The Bulletin Board

Senate amends, passes campaign finance bill

By: - May 21, 2021 11:51 am
A woman walks outside toward a polling place

The bill would authorize the secretary of state to create an election information portal. (Getty Images)

On Thursday, the Senate passed a bill that would remove voluntary expenditure limits, a spending program for candidates that has largely fallen into disuse. The proposal also increases the reporting threshold for campaign contributions and changes the maximum contribution a person can make.

Sen. James Gray said the changes would create “an even playing field for all who wish to run for office.”

The House version of the bill would have allowed an individual to give up to $3,500 per election, but the Senate increased that amount to $5,000. That would allow an individual donor to give up to $10,000 to a candidate in an election cycle.

If House Bill 263 is signed into law, the threshold for reporting contributions to a campaign would double from $500 to $1,000.

Sen. Donna Soucy said that would create transparency concerns, particularly for smaller entities that currently have to file campaign finance reports but wouldn’t have to if the proposal becomes law.

Soucy also said that removing the voluntary expenditure limits sends the wrong message.

“We are sending a message that we are not looking at campaign finance in a way where we would have the ability to limit ourselves in our activities,” she said. Soucy voted against the proposal, which passed on a voice vote that fell along party lines.  

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee reported on energy and environment for New Hampshire Bulletin. She also previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.