Lobbying is an essential part of what we do. It is how we change minds, hearts, and priorities, and build support for our bills within the Legislature.
Gift Ban For State Officials
Facts and Resources
House Bill 39 / Senate Bill 132 would ban unlimited gifts from anyone to our public officials. It is currently legal for you to give every State Legislator expensive vacations, endless fine meals, and even cash. This bill makes bribery more illegal. To learn more and read the bill, click here: (SB 132/HB 39).
In Pennsylvania, State Representatives and State Senators systemically receive large gifts like cars and vacations from individuals and groups who have business before the state. We are one of ten states that does not ban large gifts to our State Legislators and their staffs. This is a large mechanism of corruption in Harrisburg.
We are working to pass SB 132 introduced by Senator Eichelberger / HB 39 introduced by Representative Saccone. This bill bans gifts to public officials and employees from anybody who has any business before that public servant or their office. The bills currently sit in the State Government Committees in the Senate and in the House.
When our Governor, Tom Wolf, assumed office, he placed himself and his office under a total self imposed gift ban. This means that his staff bring their own bottled water and snacks to conferences. SB 132 and HB 39 are not a total gift ban, because there are exceptions for items of little economic value like educational missions, refreshments at large events, plaques and awards given, and other common sense items.
- An example of PA officials receiving extravagant gifts.
- Another example PA officials receiving extravagant gifts.
- Pa. officials report more than $160,000 in gifts, travel in 2014
- Editorial: PA gift ban is long overdue
- With lax gift laws, Pennsylvania’s elected officials enjoy Christmas year-round.
- Shorthand explanation of current gift regulations.
- Full publication of current gift regulations.
Facts and Resources About Gerrymandering
House Bill 722 / Senate Bill 22 would end gerrymandering by taking redistricting power away from the State Legislature and placing it with an independent nonpartisan citizen commission.
Gerrymandering is the insidious way political parties create absurdly drawn legislative districts to their own advantage. Gerrymandering distorts our democracy by allowing for politicians to choose their voters, instead of voters choosing their political leaders.
We are working to pass SB 22 co-introduced by Senators Boscola and Scavelo. The bill would delegate the power of redistricting to an independent nonpartisan citizen commission. Explore the website for Fair Districts PA, a group dedicated to ending gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. www.fairdistrictspa.com
An explanation of gerrymandering in Pennsylvania:
An image of Pennsylvania’s Congressional Map: Click Here
An image of Pennsylvania’s Seventh Congressional District over time: Click Here
Here’s an extra argument for citizen commissions to draw districts.
Automatic Voter Registration
Facts and Resources
House Bill 193 would create automatic voter registration in Pennsylvania by automatically registering Pennsylvanians to vote when we interact with a government agency (with consent given).
Automatic Voter Registration seeks to remove the inefficient and unnecessary obstacle of citizens needing to register in order to vote. Automatic Voter Registration exists in six states, and 29 states plus DC are considering it. Automatic Voter Registration makes democracy more inclusive and much more inviting to participate in.
A report on Automatic Voter Registration nationwide.
We often hear, “Those people who aren’t motivated to register on their own won’t vote anyways.” Not so fast…a cognitive-behavioral scientist’s explanation for why AVR works.
What are the results of Automatic Voter Registration in states with it already in place?
You can help us by contacting your Pennsylvania legislators and voicing your support for our bills.
Step One: Find your legislators (representative and senator) on OpenStates.org. You can click on the images to the right to be directed to each of the respective sites. Note the phone number for their local and Harrisburg offices when you look them up.
Step Two: Check and see if your representative or senator have co-sponsored one of our bills. All House Bills are prefixed with HB and Senate Bills are prefixed with SB. You can find different resources depending on whether you plan to meet with your legislator in person or call their office. We recommend an in-person meeting because we have found that is what is most effective, but we also recognize that time is precious, so please call if you can’t make an in-person meeting.
Please use this script as a guide for helping you when calling your legislator.
Hello, my name is (your name). I live in (your city or county) and am calling to ask that Representative (or) Senator _____ co-sponsor House Bill 39 (or) Senate Bill 132, which would limit unlimited gifts from lobbyists to State Legislators. I think it is ridiculous that legislators are currently able to take any gifts from lobbyists including fancy dinners, tickets to sports games, vacations, and anything. I also ask that Representative (or) Senator _____ co-sponsor House Bill 722 (or) Senate Bill 22, which would end gerrymandering by creating an independent nonpartisan citizen commission to redraw our legislative districts. Pennsylvania is the second most gerrymandered state in the union (we are only better than North Carolina), and it is absurd for politicians to choose their voters instead of voters choosing their politicians. House Bills 39 and 722 (or) Senate Bills 132 and 22 will go a long way toward strengthening the relationship and trust between citizen and government in Pennsylvania. Will the Representative (or) Senator be cosponsoring these bills?
(If they request time to read the bills or otherwise deliberate, be sure to follow up with them in a reasonable amount of time. If they are against the bills, please call them often to convince them).
How to Schedule a Meeting:
- Go to your legislator’s website (google your legislator) and find where their offices are. Your legislator has offices in Harrisburg and in your district, know which office is best for you before you call.
- Call your legislator’s office and tell them (bullet points)
- Your name and where in their district you live.
- You want to talk with the Representative (or) Senator about House Bill 39 and HB722 (or) Senate Bill 132 and SB22, which would limit unlimited gifts to legislators and end gerrymandering.
- Which office you would like to meet in and what days and times are good for you.
- Begin by reading about our bills.
- Then, read our counterpoints sheet to prepare responses to frequently asked questions from legislators.
- Find out the issues that your legislator is interested in and learn how a lack of democracy affects those issues. (Search through websites like www.opensecrets.org www.followthemoney.org and www.sunlightfoundation.com).
- Be sure to get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast.
- Do be in their office at least 10 minutes before the meeting. This demonstrates passion and a respect for their time.
- Do be courteous and respectful with everyone in the office.
- Do identify clearly the subjects that you want to talk about. Be as familiar as possible with the bills.
- Do get personal about why these bills are important to you. Tell your legislator how they affect you.
- Do not get personal about specific politicians or specific political parties. DO NOT SUCCUMB TO POLITICAL TRIBALISM. BE NON-PARTISAN.
- Do restrict yourself to only talking about our bills and our group. Do not talk about other bills or other groups.
- Do remember that your goal is to make a friend and to convince them to support our bills.
- Do not negotiate the specific details of the bills with the legislator.
- Do record any specific questions about any bills in the reporting form so the legislative committee can follow up.
- Do not let your tone marginalize you and do not use this time to blow off steam.
- Do be a source of hope and courage for your legislator. Your legislator will probably respond to a few of our bills by saying that they are not politically possible. Tell your legislator that meetings like the one you are in are happening across the state. Let them know that this is a movement and they are not alone.
- Do let them know that you will follow up with them. If they need time to deliberate, say something like, ‘Can I call your office in a week to see if you have any questions about our bill(s)?’ OR ‘How long will it take you to review the bill(s)?’ Be sure to follow up.
- After the meeting, fill out the legislative reporting form.
Meeting With Leadership
In our State Legislature, certain leadership positions hold a lot of power when it comes to our bills. We always encourage outreach to all legislators in Harrisburg, but there are two leaders who are holding up our bills specifically. Click to learn more about Daryl Metcalfe and Mike Turzai.