Most people don’t realize it, but the state government and localities across the commonwealth collect campaign contributions for political action committees (PACs) controlled by government unions. In February, the Senate sent legislation to the House (SB 166 and 167) to end this practice. As we noted then:
“Over the course of the last ten years, various elected officials in Pennsylvania have gone to jail for using public systems for political gain. However, government unions have been using the public employees’ payroll system to collect funds that are spent directly on candidates and influencing elections (PACs) and funds used to engage in lobbying, voter registrations, get out the vote, and a host of other political activities.
“Why should it be legal for unions to use the public payroll system for political purposes, but illegal for former-Speaker John Perzel to use the constituent data system to help sway elections? There is no difference between these two activities; both are political, both are on the public dime, and both should be illegal.”
The good news is that the House State Government Committee sent two pieces of legislation, SB 166 and HB 1174, to the floor of the House for final passage. We would prefer government getting out of the business of collecting union dues and political contributions entirely. However, the passage of either of these bills would be a drastic improvement over the status quo. The main difference between the two bills is that HB 1174 would still allow the collection of political contributions from the state police, corrections officers, and other “public safety” employees. SB 166 does not make a distinction between public safety and standard employees; it prohibits the collection of campaign contributions from all government employees.
Please take a moment to contact your Representative and encourage them to support both of these pieces of legislation.