Bill filed to fund online campaign filing system

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 99 views 

A bill to purchase a new online campaign filing system was filed Tuesday and is expected to run in the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee Wednesday.

HB 1138 by Rep. Jana Della Rosa, R-Rogers, would appropriate $750,000 to purchase a system from GCR Inc. out of New Orleans.

Della Rosa said the system would allow candidates to upload multiple transactions at once and would allow members of the public to search transactions by many fields. It would replace a current online system that she said has been pieced together over time and doesn’t function well. It should be ready by the spring of next year.

GCR was the only company that submitted a bid after the secretary of state’s office initiated a request for proposal. The bid was less than $750,000, and that is the amount the project ultimately will be funded. It will run as a separate appropriation in the State Central Services Fund.

“It’s a very nice, clean-looking system,” she said.

Della Rosa said the bill has the support of the governor and the speaker.

“I don’t expect anybody to fight me on it or anything tomorrow – at least not in terms of where the money comes from or anything like that,” she said.

The bill would fund a new system but would enact no new policy changes, so it can be passed in a fiscal session. Sen. John Cooper, R-Jonesboro, is the Senate sponsor.

Della Rosa sponsored a bill in 2015 that would have required candidates to file campaign finance reports online. It failed, in part because legislators didn’t want to have to use the current clunky system. This bill has no such requirement.

“Nobody likes the current system,” she said. “And right now, I’m not asking to make it mandatory. I’m just asking them to get us a new system.”

Della Rosa said she intends to run another bill in 2017 making online campaign filings mandatory. A legislative subcommittee has already endorsed that requirement. Passage will require a two-thirds majority because the bill modifies an initiated act.