Campaign finance bill wins final state passageBy DAVE GRAM
The Associated Press | January 17,2014MONTPELIER — A campaign finance bill that critics have labeled a retreat from real reform but whose chief backer has called a baseline for further changes was given final passage by the state Senate on Thursday and sent to Gov. Peter Shumlin.
The conference committee report approved by the Senate more than doubled the maximum contributions that a person, corporation or political committee could make to a political party from the limits earlier approved by the House and Senate. It also dropped provisions that would have identified political donors’ employers and occupations, as federal law requires for presidential and congressional campaign donors.
The bill, which a gubernatorial spokeswoman said Shumlin expects to sign, is a milestone on a long and winding road that saw Vermont’s last major effort at regulating political money shot down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006. Since then, there have been varying legal opinions whether that ruling put a 1981 campaign finance law back into effect or the state effectively had no law.
The bill’s primary supporter, Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, chairwoman of the Government Operations Committee, told her Senate colleagues the conference committee’s version was a compromise devised in part to withstand potential court challenges.
Without a current campaign finance law firmly in place, “we couldn’t make changes, because there was nothing to make changes to,” White said.
She said she would welcome future improvements in what passed Thursday.
The bill, as sent to the governor, calls for a $1,000 limit on contributions to Vermont House or local municipal candidates; $1,500 for those running for the state Senate or in other countywide races; and $4,000 for those running for statewide office.
Critics zeroed in on a conference committee decision to back a sharp increase in how much individuals, corporations and political committees can contribute to political parties. The Senate had limited contributions to parties to $3,000 per two-year election cycle; the House had set it at $5,000, according to a spreadsheet distributed to senators. The conference committee set it at $10,000.
Sen. Peter Galbraith, White’s fellow Windham County Democrat, raised a point of order about that, arguing that conference committee versions of bills are supposed to be built from provisions that passed the House and Senate, rather than having the committee craft new ones on its own.
Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott ruled against Galbraith’s point of order.MORE IN Vermont News
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day 1739, 'Richard Palmer' identified in prison at York Castle as the notorious outlaw DICK TURPIN; IN 1836, Battle of the Alamo begins near San Antonio de Bexar, Texas; 1896, the Tootsie Roll invented by LEO HIRSCHFELD.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1472, Orkney, Shetland islands put up as collateral by Norway to Scotland in lieu of dowry for MARGARET OF DENMARK on her marriage with JAMES III, king of Scotland; 1962, JOHN GLENN first American to orbit Earth.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City mayoral candidates debate campaign issues; Hartford, Conn., woman still missing; Neal Goswami reports attempts to legislate suicide; local woman loses 100 pounds through TOPS program.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1878, JOHN TUNSTALL murdered near Lincoln, New Mexico, by the outlaw JESSE EVANS; in 1930, ELM FARM OLLIE first cow to fly in aircraft, first to be milked airborne; 1955, nuke test WASP; '79, snow in Sahara.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Herald News Editor Alan J. Keays and staff writer Gordon Dritschilo discuss stories planned for the February 18, 2015, edition of the newspaper: Winter budgets maxed, legal marijuana, Springfield bank job, USPS slowdown
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1249 AD, ANDRE of LONGJUMEAU is dispatched by LOUIS IX of France to meet the KHAGAN, ruler of the Mongol Empire; in 1804, during 1st Barbary War, STEPHEN DECATUR scuttles the pirate-held USS Philadelphia in Tripoli.