This afternoon, the House overwhelmingly approved Rogers Republican Rep. Jana Della Rosa’s bill to shine sunlight into Arkansas campaign finance by requiring online reporting of monthly campaign contributions and expenditures.
House Bill 1427 passed out of committee last week on a voice vote. It now heads to the Senate, where it may face a tougher fight.
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The vote count on the measure was 82-5, a stark departure from the floor vote in the House in 2015 when Della Rosa’s previous version of the bill was voted down amid legislators’ dubious complaints that rural internet in some parts of the state was too slow to accommodate an online filing requirement.
When introducing HB 1427 today, Della Rosa said the transparency bill “does one thing and one thing only … it requires that candidates who file with the secretary of state file their campaign finance reports electronically instead of on paper.” She noted that the state “just spent $670,000 taxpayer dollars” on building a new, improved online system which would benefit candidates. For the system to benefit the public, she said, candidates must be required to participate. “If we don’t participate in the system as this bill requires, they will not get their usable, searchable database. … They will get what they have now, which is a half a database, which is not worth anything.”
Currently, candidates may file online but most choose to file on paper. That makes it much more difficult to assemble a picture of who is donating to whom in Arkansas elections. Della Rosa’s bill allows an exception for candidates to continue filing on paper if they sign a notarized affidavit declaring they don’t have access to the necessary technology.