Bill which would increase campaign contribution limits passes Senate
02/15/2017 02:25 PM
FRANKFORT – A bill which would increase the limits on individual campaign contributions to candidates, caucus committees, or political parties was passed on Wednesday by the Senate Standing Committee on State and Local Government and then later, the full Senate by a 27-10 vote along party lines.
Senate Bill 75, sponsored by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, would double the campaign limits individuals are allowed to contribute.
SB75 is similar to legislation that Thayer has filed in the past, and the Senate Majority Floor leader believes it is much needed legislation.
“We’re all pretty well in agreement that this is long overdue to update the contribution limits that individuals and PAC’s are able to make are able to make to campaigns, political parties and caucus committees,” Thayer said.
Specifically, the bill will double the contribution limits from $1,000 to $2,000 to a campaign. If passed and signed into law, contributions to a political party or a campaign caucus committee will double from $2,500 to $5,000.
Thayer also believes the bill is also about transparency.
“It will also increase disclosure and transparency because it adds another reporting period, 60 days prior to the election,” Thayer said. “Right now, candidates are required to report 15 and 32 days prior to a general election. This will make it 15, 30 and 60 days prior to an election.”
Thayer believes that the legislation is necessary because the current limits have been in place for decades.
“It’s been twenty some years and campaigns are more expensive and we already have some of the lowest contribution limits in the country,” Thayer said. “As a matter of fact, we have neighboring states like Virginia and Indiana where there are no limits. Unlimited contributions are allowed.”
Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, was one of ten Democrats who voted against the legislation feeling that increased contributions will lead to the wealthy influencing policy.
“Our society now equates free speech to how much money you can donate to a political candidate, a political party,” Jones said. “We are valuing the people and their ability to express themselves on how much money they can donate.”
Thayer disagreed, saying that his bill was about free speech and the rising cost of campaigns.
“If you vote against this bill you essentially are saying that you support a not large anonymous contribution dwarfing the role of your political campaign and your political parties ability to engage in free speech to get your message out,” Thayer said.
The bill moves on to the House for consideration.
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