The integrity of our entire system of government depends on the integrity of our elections. The process for electing our public officials has to be fair, accessible and dependable. No matter where you live or what party you’re registered with, you should have unbridled access to the ballot box; and once you get there, you should get to participate in a fair election, that means not voting in a gerrymandered district.
Legislation I’m Working On
Senate Bill 1068 − Preventing Foreign Corporate Influence on State and Local Elections
This legislation addresses an alarming loophole in federal and state election law allowing foreign influence in our state elections. This legislation would prohibit foreign-influenced corporations – those with a foreign owner holding at least 5% ownership or foreign owners holding at least 20% ownership – from making independent expenditures, electioneering communication expenditures or contributions to super PACs to spend in state and local elections in Pennsylvania. It would require the CEO of any corporation making such an independent expenditure to file a statement certifying that it is not a foreign-influenced corporation.
Senate Bill 767 − Congressional Redistricting Reform
SB 767 requires an open, public process and create an independent commission for establishing the commonwealth’s congressional districts beginning after the next federal decennial census in 2020. The commission would consist of five members – two registered Democrats, two registered Republicans and one individual not registered with either party. Interested applicants would be vetted by the secretary of the commonwealth to ensure they meet minimum qualifications and randomly selected for appointment to the commission.
Senator Costa has introduced a bill to create a commission to draw congressional districts, instead of it being done by the legislature. The commission would be made up of two members of each the Republican and Democratic Party, as well as an independent representative. None of the members shall ever have held elected office or a politically appointed position. This commission would take the politics out of drawing maps and finally make congressional districts fair and representative each time they’re updated.
There’s more to be done in protecting access to the ballot box, and the Senate Democrats have introduced proposals to:
Secure voting rights.
Secure voting rights for all by cracking down on voter intimidation and onerous Voter ID laws.
Make it easier to register to vote.
Online registration was a huge step forward, and we can make it even more accessible by allowing same-day registration.
Allow people to vote absentee without an excuse.
The list of acceptable “excuses” for voting absentee is too restrictive and discourages people from taking advantage of this legal way to vote.
Campaign finance reform.
The Citizen’s United decision from the federal Supreme Court was an abomination that has allowed corporations to have more of a voice in our democracy than its people. Reforms to campaign finance in our state are necessary to make people matter more than campaign contributions in an election.
PA Senate Democrats sent a letter to House Speaker Mike Turzai asking him to refer Senate Bill 22 to the House Rules Committee, for consideration and a motion to remove the Aument amendment on judicial districts. [embeddoc...read more
HARRISBURG, PA − June 12, 2018 − The Pennsylvania Senate Democrats voted unanimously against a Senator Aument amendment to create judicial districts, as part of the redistricting reform bill, Senate Bill 22. Ultimately, the amendment passed by a partisan vote of...read more
HARRISBURG, PA − June 6, 2018 − For the past several months, the Senate has been working with constituents and advocacy organizations to improve the fairness of Pennsylvania’s redistricting process. That work took the shape of Senate Bill 22, sponsored by a majority...read more
HARRISBURG, March 26, 2018 − Top Democrats in the House and Senate embraced Gov. Tom Wolf’s pledge of support for their ongoing efforts to reform the way political campaigns are paid for in Pennsylvania. “Our democratic form of government is designed to be...read more
Harrisburg – March 19, 2018 – State Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) released the following statement on today’s decision from the federal court on redistricting: I applaud the federal court for denying the Republican challenge to the new map. The map provided by the...read more
Harrisburg – February 15, 2018 – Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) released the following statement concerning the submission of a congressional redistricting plan to the state Supreme Court. Senate Democrats submitted the plan following the court’s...read more