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Legislative panel to consider campaign finance reforms

Idaho state Capitol
Idaho state Capitol

A joint legislative interim committee will meet Tuesday to consider campaign finance reform proposals, after a major bill the panel endorsed unanimously last year went nowhere in this year’s legislative session.

The sweeping bill required more frequent and more detailed campaign finance reporting in Idaho elections, extended reporting requirements to local elections, and required entities doing independent campaign expenditures and out-of-state entities donating large sums to Idaho PACs or candidates to identify the source of the money.

The proposal, which is backed by Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, included centralizing all campaign finance reports on a single, searchable database managed by the Secretary of State’s office, including those from local elections. Those running campaigns at any level of government would be subject to reporting requirements, but only once they’ve raised $500. It also expanded the reporting requirements to include local recall and special elections.

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, who co-chairs the interim committee, said the bill, which wasn’t scheduled to take effect until July 1, 2019, just needed refining.

“I want to get everybody on board,” she said, after the Senate Judiciary Committee, which she chairs, held an informational hearing on the bill in March.

Last year’s interim legislative committee also unanimously endorsed a proposal from Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, to end Idaho’s distinction as one of just two states with no personal financial disclosure requirements at all for its elected officials. Loertscher’s proposal was a modest one, but the House State Affairs Committee, which he chairs, was unenthusiastic about it.

Tuesday’s meeting will be audio streamed live online through Idaho Public Television’s “In Session” service for anyone who wants to listen remotely. It will start at 9:30 a.m. in Room WW54 of the state Capitol in Boise.


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