***Note: this bill has been substituted, this analysis may no longer be valid***
Representative Brian King (Democrat – Salt Lake City) is attempting to limit campaign contributions with HB 60 – Campaign Finance Amendments.
This is not King’s first attempt to reign in campaign contributions. King has run similar legislation for the past four years, however, each time King comes a little bit closer. The 2010 bill died in committee while the 2014 bill failed on a very close 35-38 vote in the House.
If passed, HB 60 would limit contributions from political action committees, corporations, and other individuals. A maximum of $5,000 could be donated to a legislative, judicial, or school board candidate. Donations to a current state office-holder would be limited to $10,000. Donations to political parties, political action committees, and labor organizations would be capped at $40,000. Under the bill, violating these limits would be a class B misdemeanor.
HB 60 has already received blowback from some legislators. In September, the Government Operations Interim Committee put off endorsing the bill, asking King to work on the legislation. King then changed some parts of the bill, clarifying that limits would be adjusted for inflation and that self-funded campaigns would still be allowed. The committee, in a close vote, still failed to endorse the bill.
Senator Scott Jenkins (Republican – Plain City) has been particularly opposed to the legislation. Last November, Jenkins says that the bill would help Democrats and hurt Republicans in the process due to the fact that Republicans have larger donors.
“Democrats are getting slaughtered in this state, they have had big issues with these elections… and I look at this I say, ‘Well, this helps Democrats and it hurts Republicans’ because I have more large donors that want to donate on the Republican side and less on the Democratic side. This means that you are going to restrict me and help even that playing field. Certainly that takes away my rights.”
HB 60 would be a great step forward for the state’s campaign finance laws, though the chances of its passage are not as straight forward. Lower caps would do more to help reduce the influence of money on campaigns, though lower caps also mean reducing the probability of success.
King has consistently been fighting an uphill battle with this legislation; as noted, last year King came painfully close to passing this legislation out of just one chamber, and it is probable that the legislation will encounter a lot of resistance in the Senate, as evidenced by the chilly reception it received in committee. The lack of a committee endorsement certainly won’t help the bill’s odds – but if there is one thing that has become clear with King and his legislation, it is that King isn’t going to let the issue die.
To contact Representative King, Click Here or call 801-560-0769
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