Once again, campaign finance reformBy Associated Press
Legislation that limits the flow of big money donations into state campaigns would give all voters their voice back in the political system, some state lawmakers and government watchdog groups said Wednesday.
The bills by Reps. Mark Strama, D-Austin; Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio; and Todd Smith, R-Bedford, were getting a hearing Wednesday before the House Elections Committee.
Strama's bill would place limits on the amount that individuals and political committees can contribute to candidates, with limits ranging from $500 for state legislative candidates up to $2,000 for statewide candidates.
Strama said Texas in one in a handful of states that has no limits on individual or political action committee donations.
"An increasingly small number of super wealthy donors have taken an increasingly bigger role in determining public policy in Texas," he said.
Villarreal's bill would place a limit of $100,000 on the total amount one person can contribute in a two-year election cycle for state office.
Smith's bill would strengthen the century-old ban on corporate campaign spending by prohibiting "issue ads" paid for by undisclosed corporate sources.
Few lawmakers will say they oppose campaign finance reform, but those who do say it's because candidates will have to spend more time raising money and less time talking to voters.
Opponents also say setting limits makes no sense because of inflation. Sending out flyers and paying for advertising costs more each year. Others say Texans pay a bigger price by letting big decisions be influenced by big money.
"When mega donors invest that much money in a candidate, they expect a return on their investment," Villarreal said.
The League of Women Voters, Texans for Public Justice, Common Cause and True Courage Action Network voiced support for the proposals.
Similar legislation has been filed in the past but failed to get votes.