This article originally provided by Public Campaign

May 5, 2006

With Just Minutes Left, CT Legislature Approves CE Fix

With just minutes left in the legislative session last night, the Connecticut Senate and House approved crucial reforms needed to strengthen and preserve the stateís landmark Clean Elections law, which provides full public funding for legislative and statewide candidates starting in 2008, as well as banning contributions from lobbyists and state contractors. The Senate voted unanimously on the measure about 11:50 pm; minutes later, House members voted 122-23.

Passing the bill had been a "roller coaster ride," in the words of Karen Hobert Flynn, of Connecticut Common Cause. Despite wide agreement that several crucial changes were needed to protect the Clean Elections law, the measure almost died. While Wednesday afternoon, legislators announced a compromise at a press conference, that agreement fell apart just hours later. It wasnít until the late hours of the night that the agreement came back together.

"This victory was a tribute to the staying power of Connecticut reformers and to grassroots pressure," wrote Public Campaign executive director Nick Nyhart in a blog post made minutes after the vote. "But it also came to be because the Connecticut lawmakers finally and fully made good on their commitments from last year. With so much corruption in Washington DC, itís good to see politicians and reformers in Connecticut coming together and producing sweeping legislation rather than sham measures that barely skim the surface of real change. Beltway, take note."

The biggest loophole to close was a clause buried in the law that would permanently eliminate the law if a legal challenge were brought and a judge issued a temporary injunction that stopped the public financing system for as little as three days. The legislative fix approved last night would allow public financing to be frozen only if a judge were to issue a temporary injunction of a week or more after April 15; in addition, the funding would be halted only until December 1 of the same year, reported the Hartford Courant.

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