Friday, February 29, 2008

Campaign finance limits still in play

House refuses to concur with Senate changes

Efforts to reduce the proposed high limits on individual contributions laid out in House Bill 9 - Campaign finance reporting failed Thursday and the Senate gave the bill final approval.

Sen. Ken Decaria of Evanston tried to amend the bill to bring Wyoming contribution limits closer to federal individual limits.

The Senate version of the bill, you'll recall, allows individuals to contribute $3,500 per election or up to $7,000 total if they support a candidate running both primary and general election campaigns. The Senate imposed identical limits on state Political Action Committees. The bill carries no upper limit, meaning a wealthy individual interested in getting involved in many elections could give hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence Wyoming elections.

The Senate also cut the penalty for violating the law from $25,000 to $10,000 and inserted an amendment affecting payroll deductions for contributions to PACs. That change eliminates a requirement that an employee annually sign a form authorizing the deductions.

The House refused to concur with the Senate's changes. Reps. Pete Illoway, Deb Hammons and Mary Throne were appointed to represent the House in the concurrence committee. The Senate has yet to appoint its committee members.