Campaign contribution bill goes to House floor

FRANKFORT— Legislation that calls for the first increase in campaign contribution limits in Kentucky in nearly 18 years was approved by a House committee.

Key changes under House Bill 147, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and approved by the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs, would double the limit on individual campaign contributions from $1,000 to $2,000 as of this July and double the annual limit on individual contributions to a party’s state executive committee and affiliates from $2,500 to $5,000. It would also double from $10,000 to $20,000 the overall amounts allowed from permanent, executive and caucus campaign committees.

The increased limits are only part of the bill, which would also allow corporate contributions to political party building funds and allow married couples to write one check for a contribution up to the individual limits of each spouse, among other provisions.

The legislation would also help combat what Stumbo called an influx of out-of-state soft money into Kentucky by modernizing the contribution limits. Soft money is typically defined as a contribution going to a political party, not directly to a candidate.

Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, voted against the bill in committee, something he said was “very difficult” to do but that he said was rooted in American politics today.

“People are tired of the political system in which money controls how we elect people,” said Graham.

The committee agreed that some changes to HB 147 recommended by the state Registry of Election Finance could be addressed in a floor amendment.

HB 147 now goes before the full House for consideration.

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