Tolbert: Rep. Della Rosa To Run Bill Requiring Electronic Filings For Candidates

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 67 views 

A bill sponsored by Rep. Jana Della Rosa of Rogers would take a huge leap forward to improving campaign financial reports.

HB1233 would require candidates to file campaign reports electronically with the Secretary of State.  This would include candidates for the seven constitutional offices, the state legislature, and state judicial offices. The electronic filing system is already in place on the Arkansas Secretary of State website, but since electronic filing is not required, most candidates still send in paper reports.

“The goal of this bill is to improve transparency,” said Della Rosa who told me she is receiving broad support among her colleagues for the bill. She already has 31 House co-sponsors including members from both parties and Speaker Jeremy Gillam. She has discussed her proposal with the Secretary of State’s office who feels that her proposal will actually result in a cost savings to the state. Since the system is in place, requiring candidates to use it will save the cost of handling and scanning in the paper reports. She also expects support from Gov. Hutchinson as well as other state leaders.

In addition, the information will make the data much more usable to the public. Currently, although all campaign financial information is available, it requires someone to read a scanned image of the report.  For large campaigns, such as the governor’s race, these large reports can make the data nearly unusable unless someone has hours to mine through it.

With electronic filing, the data will be fully searchable similar to the FEC website on federal elections. Want to know who all Oaklawn’s owner Charles Cella donated to in the next election?  You will be able to find this with a few clicks of a mouse.

The proposal will move the campaign finance system light years ahead of where it currently exists. The bill is currently before the House State Agencies Committee where Della Rosa says she expects it will run in the next couple of weeks. I hope the legislature agrees with the wisdom of this one and improves the campaign finance data in time for next year’s election cycle.