Campaign finance reform advances in Senate

The Senate gave its preliminary approval Tuesday to a comprehensive campaign finance reform bill after refusing to strip out a provision letting counties set up their own public-financing systems.

 The measure, which has already passed the House, could receive a final vote as early as Wednesday. It would need to be reconciled with a slightly different House version.

 Among other things, the legislation would raise campaign donation limits that haven’t changed in two decades, curb giving through multiple corporate entities to evade those limits, increase reporting requirements and give the State Board of Elections new enforcement powers.

Senators turned aside an attempt by Senate Minority Leader E. J. Pipkin, an Eastern Shore Republican, to amend the measure to remove the public financing provision, which would allow counties to decide whether to publicly finance campaigns for local office. His effort was rejected on a 25-16 vote.

Also rejected was an effort by Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s Democrat, to reduce the increase in maximum a donor would be allowed to give to all campaign during a four-year election cycle. The bill would raise that amount from $10,000 to $24,000. Pinsky’s attempt to cut that to $15,000 was voted down 38-8.


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