Making Senate Earmark Requests Open Records

S.263 would amend the Senate rules to require that any Senator making an earmark request in any budget bill do so through a form designed by the Senate Finance Committee. The form would at minimum contain “the member’s name, the specifics of the earmark request, including the county or municipality to which the earmark is steered if not statewide, the purpose to be accomplished by the earmark request, and such other information as the form may require.” Once filled out the form must be filed with the Senate Finance Committee or the senior Senator serving on a free conference committee, depending on which stage the budget bill is in. All of these forms would be available online to the public within three business days of being filed.

This is an outstanding reform that would help to prevent wasteful spending and self-serving pork in budget bills. Senators may well be too embarrassed or fearful of the consequences to file much of the earmarks they would request under the current system. To the Senators did still file for these kinds of self-serving earmarks they would be much more easily exposed by watchdog groups like the Policy Council and the Nerve.

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