With lawmakers, Common Cause of Delaware, the Commissioner of Elections and other advocates for more open government gathered at Buena Vista State Conference Center, Governor Markell signed into law today three pieces of legislation that collectively increase transparency and provide greater and more timely information to the voters and residents of our state.
"These three pieces of legislation, taken together, will make our state government more open, more transparent, and ultimately, more accountable to the people we serve," said Governor Jack Markell.
The three bills are:
House Bill 300, the Delaware Elections Disclosure Act , which represents the first major overhaul of Delaware's campaign finance laws in more than 20 years. It closes a loophole with campaign advertisements, requires prompt reporting of third-party spending on campaign ads and requires greater disclosure from those who spend money to influence elections. Effective January 1, 2013.
House Bill 310, increases the penalties for late filing of elections disclosure reports from $50 a month to $50 a day; and $50 a day for incomplete campaign finance reports. Effective immediately.
Senate Bill 185, requires enhanced disclosure for lobbyists regarding the issues they are lobbying, inclusive of bills, resolutions and regulations.
Effective January 1, 2013.
Senate President Pro Tem Anthony DeLuca, D-Newark, was the chief sponsor of the lobbying reform measure and was the lead Senate sponsor of the campaign finance legislation. Both measures, he said, play a key role in giving people important information.
"It will be easier for citizens to track what lobbyists are doing in Dover, letting the public know who's invested in the outcome of a bill," DeLuca said. "Letting citizens know who's paying for the kinds of negative attack ads that PACS and other outside groups have been able to hide behind in the past, helps them understand which organizations are trying to sway their vote."
House Majority Whip Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, said that the new campaign finance laws promote openness and increased transparency in political campaigns.
"People deserve to know who is taking out political ads and donating to political campaigns," said Rep. Longhurst, who sponsored the bill increasing penalties for filing late reports. "With technology, it is easier than ever for candidates to file campaign finance reports and for the public to view them. These laws are all about increased transparency and getting more information out to the public."
The Governor thanked Delaware lawmakers, saying, "change isn't always easy and the changes we're making today would not be possible without the hard work of many people. These are important pieces of legislation and our lawmakers helped to make them reality."