Thursday, May 04, 2006

Last Minute Campaign Finance Reform Fix Passed

The House finally passed the campaign finance reform compromise at three minutes before midnight, last night. The Senate had passed the bill only eight minutes earlier.

This is a crazy system.

Anyway, here are some highlights:
The fix approved Wednesday would allow public financing for campaigns to be frozen only if the campaign finance law is challenged and a temporary injunction of a week or more is issued by a judge after April 15. Further, the public financing system would be frozen only until Dec. 1 of the same year.
Under the new agreement, candidates in primary races would not be allowed to accept in-kind contributions from PACs. The agreement also sets a $10,000 per-PAC limit in Senate races and a $3,500 limit in House races. The new rules also make it easier for minor-party candidates to obtain public financing, but do not completely level the field, lawmakers said. (Keating)

I'm going to take a look at the actual bill and see if it really is easier for third party candidates, but the compromises here are not bad. The law seems strengthened.

I'm glad they got it done, but why did it have to happen at the very last second? That makes no sense. The legislature spent a lot of the day passing odd bills like one that allows the governor to lower the U.S. flag to half staff, or an attempt to get someone who turned in a lottery ticket three days late to get his money (highlights here). They also ate up time toasting retiring members. Other big issues like eminent domain and gasoline "zone" pricing were left undone.

Still, it was mostly an effective short session. The budget "adjustment" moved us forward on transportation, and that's a good thing. It's almost certain that more would have been done without the Zarella scandal clogging up the works.

There may yet be a special session or two, but there isn't the urgency of last year. Now lawmakers can return to their districts with whatever records they have, and concentrate on the upcoming elections.


Keating, Christopher and Elizabeth Hamilton. "A Deal At Last." Hartford Courant 4 May, 2006.


TSCowperthwait said...

Just a quick note. The legislature has raised the issue of zone pricing numerous times since 1997 (1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005) and has never been able to pass anything. It doesn't surprise me that they talked about it again but still couldn't get anything done. I also find it disappointing that they didn't pass anything related to the eminent domain issue.

MikeCT said...

Great news on campaign finance reform! Lots of credit to Common Cause CT, CCAG, and others in the Clean Up CT campaign. You can send your contributions to them rather than pols next year.

A NH Independent article, written before the bill passed provides a little more detail on the third party provision. Sounds like an imperfect fix.

It allows third-party candidates to gather signatures on petitions to qualify for matching public campaign funds, the way independent petitioning candidates can. (Under the original law, third-party candidates could qualify for public money only if their party had previously run a candidate for the same office in the prior election and obtained a minimum threshold of votes.) However, the amendment still sets high thresholds, up to 20 percent of signatures of eligible voters in their districts, for qualifying for the maximum amount of matching funds. Democrats and Republicans don't need to do that.

And Cathy Cook, the Senator from Pfizer, is gone! Rumored to be running for Comptroller. Democrat Andy Maynard will run against Rep. Lenny Winkler for the seat.

Sen. Ciotto also gone.

Patricia Rice said...

Republicans in the General assemble do all the can to delay or deny the process. Caruso is one of the best in the House. A real straight shooter and probably the most honest guy in the G.A. Mr.Ward should not assoicate everybody with McCarthy who seeks the truth.

I would still like to know, the Hartford Courant talked about "fixed votes" regarding Tomasso fast track projects. Could any of these votes have taken place in the General assembly? Did Republican leaders Ward,Deluca or Aniskovich ever accept any contributions from Tomasso and did they have anything to do with fast tracking projects?

It would be interesting to know what friends of John were working behind the scenes to help him accomplish his goals. Of course, Jodi would say she knows nothing.

TSCowperthwait said...

Patricia, that is quite a generalization to make. Perhaps the same could be said about Democrats on other issues. As for Rep. Caruso, I don't know him and can't speak as to his integrity, ethics and ability as a representative. What I can say is that a bill such as the campaign finance reform amendments should have had more than a few minutes of floor discussion before a vote -- it is too important to get it wrong.

BRubenstein said...

Pat Rice..i finally agree with you about something...Caruso is a great guy.

disgruntled_republican said...

p Rice-

Since you consistantly sling these allegations of fixed votes, instead of asking a million times on here why dont you look into yourself. You sound like a broken record. said...

GC- I agree with you on the crazy system. The Paul Bass article yesterday evening on ctnewsjunkie really shed some light on it. I wonder how many legislators had a chance to read and reflect on a 90 page amendment on the last day of session?

I'm glad the CFR fix passed, but when legislation is passed to improve government I'd like to see some good process behind it.

CTObserver said...

Rasmussen Reports has a new survey with Leiberman ahead by only 20% (51%-31%). In the cross-tabs, among self-identified liberals, Leiberman is ahead only 42% to 40%, within the margin of error.