The Connecticut House of Representatives passed one of the strongest campaign finance packages in the nation late last night. Here's the roll call vote. The bill bans state contractors and lobbyists from making contributions to political campaigns, ends so-called "ad books" and creates a public financing system for state campaigns.
An attempt by Democrats to strip the public financing element from the bill failed by 79-66 vote. (AP)
Gov. Rell has said that she will sign the bill.
Rell called the bill "truly historic" and said she was looking forward to signing it. She had been pushing lawmakers to pass a bill after they failed to reach a deal during the regular legislative session earlier this year.
"The people of Connecticut want these reforms. They want to remove the corrosive, corrupting influence of special interest money in our elections, and we can finally reward them with this landmark legislation," Rell said. (AP)
A quick look at the roll call shows that most Republicans voted against the bill, which is amazing for a measure that would largely benefit them. I could only find three that voted for it. The governor had promised support from her own party, but apparently was unable to deliver.
Many Democrats voted against the bill, including my own rep, Steve Jarmoc (D-59). Of course, now that public financing is in place, it'll be easier (I hope) to get rid of him.
The legislation will continue to be revised and retooled by the legislature:
But that doesn't mean the end to the campaign finance reform debate in Connecticut. After much discussion about loopholes in the legislation, lawmakers promised to return during the regular session in February to make further changes. (AP)
The bill isn't perfect. Third parties will suffer, the implementation date is after the upcoming election cycle and it's not entirely clear that it will dramatically decrease the influence of lobbyists, contractors and money in campaigns. I'm also a little suspicious of the speed in which it was done after months of hemming and hawing.
Yet this is also the strongest such legislation in the country, and it's an excellent place to start. We can build on this legislation in future sessions, and serve as a model for the nation.
The legislature should be proud of the work it has accomplished this year. With the passage of this bill, the historic 2005 legislative session, which saw the passage of a minimum wage increase, civil unions and now historic campaign finance reform, finally comes to a close. I have been very hard on the Democrats for stalling on this bill, but in the end they got it done. Bravo.
I just saw MikeCT's analysis of the situation posted in the comment section of the post just below this one. Check it out.
Update: Register your opinion! Vote in the new poll on the sidebar beneath the maps.
"Legislature passes campaign finance reform bill." Associated Press 1 December, 2005.