March 3, 2010

Clean Elections Update  

Hello everyone,

Very exciting news today - the Supreme Court Public Financing Pilot Project (HB 4130) passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 67-30! It will be officially reported to the Senate tomorrow, when we will see if the committee assignments are as we expect: Judiciary and Finance. If so, we have every reason to believe that Judiciary Chair Jeffrey Kessler (D-Marshall), a long-time supporter of public financing, will handle the bill expeditiously. We will need all Senate votes possible, so please contact your Senators and ask them to support House Bill 4130.

Several amendments were offered to the bill during Second Reading, only one of which was adopted. That amendment removed the tax refund check-off option as a funding source. This was not a central funding source, and I have never seen an estimate of an amount projected to be provided by it. The other amendments offered, which were rejected, were as follows: 1) to make the elections covered in this project non-partisan; 2) to again remove the court fees - which were taken out by Judiciary and replaced in Finance - as a funding source; and 3) to place any unspent monies at the end of the Pilot Project into the Rainy Day Fund instead of General Revenue.

There was quite a bit of debate on the floor today while the bill was up for passage. There were opponents of some of the funding sources, and of the philosophy of public financing in general. One of the most eloquent defenders of the Pilot Project was long-time sponsor Del. Patrick Lane (R- Kanawha), who stated that while the perception of money's influence in legislative politics is negative, "money in the judiciary is abhorrent."

Our next coalition meeting will take place after the session is over, on Wednesday, March 17 at 1:30 PM at the Catholic Diocese (1116 Kanawha Blvd, E.). We hope to be discussing implementation efforts, but will also certainly celebrate this significant victory of today. We will keep you updated meanwhile, and will let you know if we need calls to specific Senators to get the bill on the committees' agendas. Meanwhile please do call your Senators and ask for their support!

Thanks so much!

Carol Warren
WV Citizens for Clean Elections
(304) 847-5121

Voter-Owned Elections

Citizens for Clean Elections P.O. Box 6753 Huntington, WV 25773-6753 304-522-0246