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Miller To Sponsor Campaign Finance Bill

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert) will join forces with some progressive groups tomorrow to announce campaign finance reform legislation that includes both an increase in contribution limits and a pilot program for public financing of legislative campaigns.

Miller has blocked previous efforts to allow public financing of campaigns, citing concerns about the cost. The House of Delegates has been far friendlier to such efforts.

The bill that will be unveiled tomorrow relies on revenue from a voluntary checkoff on income tax forms. The legislation would allow fewer than a quarter of candidates seeking election to the General Assembly to participate in the 2014 election cycle, according a person familiar with the bill.

The bill also raises individual contribution limits to candidates from $4,000 per cycle to $4,400. The limit for contributions by political committees would increase from $6,000 per cycle to $6,600. And the cap on what individuals may give to all candidates during a cycle would increase from $10,000 to $15,000.

The bill also includes some other provisions, including one aimed at limiting contributions from companies controlled by the same person, according to the person familiar with the bill.

Miller will join Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's), a longtime champion of public financing, in sponsoring the legislation, which is also supported by Common Cause and Progressive Maryland.

Both organizations put out news releases yesterday touting the bill.

By John Wagner  |  March 5, 2009; 4:53 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , John Wagner  
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Way to get rolled, "progressives".

This measure to supposedly decrease the influence of money in state politics will put more money into the pockets of sleazy politicians like Mike Miller.

All for what? A public subsidy for professional politicians?

Posted by: fonkyou | March 6, 2009 5:30 AM | Report abuse

Our analysis of those aspects of the bill indicates that in fact these modest increases in the contribution limits are essentially just inflation adjustments that are in line with other states and will not substantially increase the amount of private money in the system. Moreover, that increase will be more than offset by the fact that, if Maryland is anything like Maine, Arizona, and Connecticut, most legislators will be elected under the new optional public system, which will result in better policy outcomes for average Marylanders.
Matthew Weinstein
Progressive Maryland

Posted by: weinsteinm | March 6, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Weinstein:

Your organization is touting the fact that in states with a public financing system, 90% of incumbents are re-elected:

How will putting the same old hacks into office produce any difference in outcomes? If anything, the complicated reporting and accounting requirements in your bill will pose an additional barrier to new political voices.

This looks more like an incumbent protection act than anything else.

Posted by: fonkyou | March 6, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Weinstein suggests Maryland will see "better policy outcomes" like Arizona, Connecticut, and Maine.

Like the largest budget deficit among the states (AZ)? Like the collapse of the Dirigo health plan (ME)? One of the highest foreclosure rates in the country (AZ) and among the highest taxes in the country (ME)?

"Clean election" schemes promise much but deliver almost nothing but broken promises (see and for starters).

Sean Parnell
Center for Competitive Politics

Posted by: seanparnell | March 6, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

In response to the comments of Sean Parnell, I am definitely agin "clean elections" maybe.

Posted by: caffreyt | March 9, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

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