COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Senate has again signed off on legislation that would allow local elections officials to accept campaign finance reports electronically.
SB 44 passed on a vote of 33-0 and heads to the Ohio House for further consideration. Comparable legislation was approved by senators late last year but was not finalized before the session ended.
Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), primary sponsor of the legislation, called it an end to "the dead tree method" of campaign finance reporting.
"This is an important modernization in the way that local candidates report their campaign finance reports," he said during Wednesday's floor session, adding later, " Hopefully today we'll be passing a bill that makes it much easier for people to access this important piece of public information."
The secretary of state's office already allows online filing for some offices, but state law does not authorize county boards to accept the documentation electronically. Instead, those documents are required to be submitted in paper form.
Under SB 44, counties could opt to allow electronic filing for candidates for local offices and the state school board, with provisions to forward information to the secretary of state. Any resulting filings also would have to be posted online for public review.
"When candidates raise and spend money, there's a very important public imperative for the general public to know how that money's raised and how that money is spent," LaRose said. "In today's law, local candidates have no choice but to file their paperwork at the board of elections [on paper], hard-copy style."
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.