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Minnesota Legislature

Campaign finance reform changes

Published (4/8/2010)
By Patty Ostberg
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Administrative changes to laws governing the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board were approved 127-1 by the House April 7.

Sponsored by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) and Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), HF1206/ SF80* would: remove election laws that have since been ruled unconstitutional; no longer require necessary food utensils and supplies to be reported as campaign expenditures; set a value of $5 or less on informational material given to an official in connection to legislation; permit the board to exempt the requirement of an e-mail address being provided; and set contribution limits for judicial candidates.

The bill would allow a candidate to accept up to $2,000 in an election year from any individual, political committee or political fund, and up to $500 in other years. These limits are the same as candidates running for governor, Simon noted.

He said the changes were included in a larger election bill vetoed last year by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Gary Goldsmith, the board’s executive director, said in a previous House committee, “This is really an administrative bill that makes it possible for the board to move further into the 21st century to leverage the technological resources that have been developing.”

An amendment unsuccessfully offered by Rep. Laura Brod (R-New Prague) would have prohibited political committees and others from soliciting contributions by deception or falsely implying the contributions to support a candidate for office.

Brod said a donut stand at the Minnesota State Fair was doing just that by giving proceeds to a political party without informing customers of the intent.

Simon said while he supports the direction of the amendment, it would go too far in defining a contribution.

A successful amendment offered by Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls) would require lobbyist registration forms to include the Web address of each association to bring further transparency to the process.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.

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