This article originally provided by
The Charleston Gazette
February 23, 2004
Senate committee endorses
public election bill
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Candidates for state offices could apply for public
financing under a proposal endorsed Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The committee voted 10-4 to endorse the proposal (SB270), which would allow
candidates who agree to raise no private money and spend none of their own to
receive cash from a public fund.
"The goal is to increase public trust by taking special interest money out of
the process and letting candidates spend more time on issues and less on
fund-raising,'' said Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall.
Arizona, Maine, Vermont and North Carolina have some form of public election
Under the West Virginia bill, candidates would need a number of $20
contributions to qualify for state funding. The number would depend upon the
The fund would raise money through a voluntary checkoff on state income tax
returns, as well as through contributions and civil penalties. No tax dollars
would be used.
Backers said successful public funding models in other states have had a
dedicated revenue source, usually taxes.
One opponent, Sen. Russ Weeks, noted that he and other Republican lawmakers won
their seats in 2002 while being significantly outspent.
"It's not about money, it's about working hard,'' said Weeks, R-Raleigh.
The Senate Finance Committee must also endorse the bill, and supporters
predicted it would likely fail there.
In other action, judiciary members defeated on a divided voice vote a bill
(SB478) to allow adult motorcycle riders to ride without helmets. Similar bills
have failed to pass the Senate for several years.