MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont lawmakers are planning to take up what’s being called a technical corrections bill to fix a mistake in a recently passed campaign finance law. But some legislators who were unhappy with the law passed last month say they may push for bigger changes.
Lawmakers were told last week that the language in the bill signed into law by Gov. Peter Shumlin took away old campaign contribution limits, but didn’t put new ones in place until next year. That means there would be no limits for the 2014 election.
Some lawmakers say when the measure that would fix the problem comes up in the House - which is likely to happen this week - they may push for lower limits and for identification of the employers of campaign donors.
As passed last month, the measure calls for a $1,000 limit on contributions to state House or local municipal candidates; $1,500 for those running for the Senate or in other county-wide races; and $4,000 for those running for statewide office.
Critics zeroed in on a sharp increase in how much individuals, corporations and political committees can contribute to political parties. The new law sets that limit at $10,000.
Reps. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, and Chris Pearson, a Burlington Progressive, were among those saying Friday they would like to open the matter for broader debate when the technical corrections bill comes up.
Browning wrote to her Democratic colleagues that Vermont should shoot for tougher limits and more disclosure. She argued that where a contributor works is relevant to voters trying to determine who is trying to influence elected officials. Vermont’s campaign finance law currently does not require disclosure of donors’ employers.
“If a candidate who opposes raising the minimum wage … has received large donations from Walmart executives, don’t you think that would be good info for voters?” she wrote in her email to colleagues.