WV Clean Elections Legislative Update by Norm Steenstra

February 18, 2005

Clean Elections Passes Judiciary Committee

by Norm Steenstra, norm@wvcag.org

After three years of hearing about the concept, the full House of Delegates will get the opportunity to debate the concept of publicly financed legislative elections next week. Late Thursday afternoon the House Judiciary Committee narrowly approved HB 2486, which creates a Clean Elections pilot project for the 2006 legislative elections. This proactive bill was vehemently opposed by ultra conservative Republicans and a few self-serving democrats. (Ed note: We have just learned that the Clean Elections Bill, HB 2486, was not reported to the House floor and languishes somewhere in purgatory. Your calls supporting this Pilot Project Bill are even more critical NOW than when we wrote this)

It's been a long time since House Leadership has lent its power to a WV-CAG issue but this time it pulled out all the stops to get the bill out of committee. The vote was 12 -10 with 3 members not voting. Because the vote was a show of hands, and not a formal "roll call vote", even though we know how everyone voted it isn't fair to publish the individual names. On Monday the full House will debate HB 2486 and a flurry of amendments is expected.

Real heroes Thursday include Speaker Bob Kiss, Judiciary Chair Jon Amores and Delegates Mike Caputo and John Doyle. Anti heroes include a Democratic delegate whose former spouse was recently convicted of vote buying. The delegate was perhaps the bill's most mean - spirited opponent repeatedly stating that there are "no problems" with the way we elect legislators. Another Democratic delegate opposes spending up to $500,000 to fund the pilot project yet voted to give $700, 000 of taxpayer money to a tournament at a golf course owned by a state senator.

With the backing of House Leadership, hard work by the Clean Elections coalition lobby team and your calls to House members, West Virginia may soon become only the second state to launch such a pilot project.

Remember! Election Reform is the reform in which all other reforms are possible.

Ask Delegates To Support Pilot Project

Thursday's Clean Elections victory in the House Judiciary Committee (see page one) wouldn't have happened without your calls and letters to delegates!

On Tuesday, we expect the bill to be voted on in the full House. It's time again to contact your Delegates (see last week's insert for contact info.) and ask them to support voter-owned, publicly-financed elections by passing HB 2486, the WV Public Campaign Financing Pilot Project. Tell them that based on its success in states like Maine and Arizona, where it is now the political norm to run for office free from direct dependence on private donations, this voluntary alternative to special interest driven campaigns deserves a trial run in West Virginia. Thanks for your continued support and we hope to have more good news next week!

Voter-Owned Elections

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