Legislation which would raise campaign finance limits passes House committee

02/01/2016 07:25 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would double campaign contribution limits, reflecting inflation since the limits were last set, has passed a House committee.

House Bill 147, sponsored by Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, which would raise the limits of contributions from individuals and political action committees (PACs) to candidates and campaign committees from $1,000 to $2,000,
was passed by the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs on Monday by a 5 to 2 vote.

In addition the upper limit for donations to caucus campaigns and state and local executive committees would rise from $2,500 to $5,000. This limit would not have an impact on donations to a state executive committee’s building fund.

Finally, the rules governing aggregate PAC donations would change after the first $20,000 rather than the current $10,000.

The individual and PAC donation limits to candidates and campaign committees would be indexed to the cost of inflation and adjusted every odd-numbered year. This would mirror the law for federal races.

Stumbo says that it’s all about leveling the playing field for candidates who don’t have outside money supporting their campaigns.

“One of the things wrong with American politics these days is the influx of huge out of state, dark money, soft money, whatever you want to call it,” Stumbo said. “What this does is try to level the playing field a little bit. I think it’s only fair that candidates be able to collect a little more money.”

Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, supported the bill saying that it’s a way for candidates to combat opponents whose financial support comes from out-of-state organizations.

“This piece of legislation does, in my opinion, gives up an opportunity to at least fight back a little bit and try to get things where that individuals that do not have access to great sums of money can still hold public office,” Bell said. “I think that is the tradition and the spirit that our constitution and our political parties were built upon.”

House Bill 147 would also let the state’s two political parties establish a separate building fund account and make it possible for corporations to contribute to it.

The bill now moves on the full House for consideration.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.