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Two "Hard Heads" Put Forward Campaign Finance Bill

A campaign finance bill formally unveiled today required "two hard heads having a meeting of my the minds."

That is the description of Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's), who was referring to his noggin and that of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who is sponsoring the legislation with him.

Pinsky, one of the Senate's most liberal Democrats, and Miller, a Democrat who trends conservative on many issues, appeared together today to announce an agreement on a bill that would allow some public financing of legislative elections in the 2014 election cycle and increase the contribution limits in existing law.

Under the public financing provision, candidates who chose to participate would become eligible for public funds once they raise at least $5 from at least 350 contributors. The amount of public funding would depend on the race and whether the primary and general election are both contested. Someone running for Senate, for example, could receive as much as $100,000.

Pinksy said the private cash is meant to prove a candidate has a certain breadth of support.

"We don't want to have any Uncle Sam on stilts getting public money," he said.

Miller, who has opposed such legislation in the past, said he was willing to come on board in part because of how the bill will be funded: largely from a checkoff on personal income tax forms.

MIller acknowledged he was in unusual company at the press conference, which was attended by Common Cause and Progressive Maryland, two liberal-minded groups. He introduced himself to speakers from the organization just before the event started.

"These guys are such natural allies of mine, I've got to introduce myself to them," he joked.

By John Wagner  |  March 6, 2009; 12:57 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , John Wagner  
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