Bill Requires Arkansas Candidates To File Campaign Finance Reports Electronically

Feb 3, 2017

File photo of State Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers) presenting her electronic filing bill in the 2015 legislative session. The bill failed to pass out of the House.

Republican State Rep. Jana Della Rosa of Rogers is renewing her effort to make Arkansas political candidates’ campaign finance reports more searchable. Della Rosa filed a bill this week requiring legislative, judicial and constitutional office candidates to enter their campaign finance information electronically through a new online system.

The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office is currently installing the system. Della Rosa says the measure will allow people to more easily see who contributes to candidates.

“There’s no reason that we shouldn’t be doing this and making ourselves as transparent to the public as we can. It just doesn’t seem like it’s asking us to do very much, just to enter our information into an online system instead of writing it on a piece of paper,” she says.

The proposal, HB1427, is similar to a bill Della Rosa sponsored that failed to pass out of the Arkansas House of Representatives in the 2015 legislative session. She says the current financial reporting system is inadequate.

“What we have now is not searchable, really at all. That’s the ultimate goal in all of this: to get a usable, searchable database for the public for campaign finance in Arkansas.”

In the last fiscal session, Della Rosa says the General Assembly appropriated more than $700,000 to the Secretary of State’s office to install the new filing system, which is expected to be ready by the summer. Her bill would mandate that candidates use the new system.

Della Rosa’s bill does grant exemptions to politicians who do not have adequate internet access, after some rural lawmakers raised concerns about not having a reliable connection. Under the bill, those lawmakers can submit an affidavit stating their dilemma and file the traditional paper finance reports with the Secretary of State.

In order to pass the House or Senate, the bill would require a two-thirds majority vote, as it amends initiated acts passed by Arkansas voters.

Della Rosa says she’ll present her bill in the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs next Wednesday. The committee meets at 10am.