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November 2009 Newsletter

Campaign Finance Reform

Last week, the Illinois General Assembly took a significant step forward on campaign finance reform.  At the urging of every reform advocacy group in our State, I joined in supporting the bill despite my reservations over the lack of spending limits by political parties in a general election.  I’ve included a link to the website of CHANGE Illinois – a coalition of over forty groups working to reform government in Illinois – regarding their support for the legislation.

http://www.changeil.org/

This was a difficult choice to make.

But before this legislation passed, Illinois was one of only five states with no campaign contribution limits.  That has now been addressed.

Before this legislation passed, the State Board of Elections had no authority to conduct random audits of campaign committees to determine whether their campaign disclosures were accurate.  That has now been addressed.

Before this legislation passed, campaign committees were only required to report every six months.  Now each committee must report their contributions quarterly and every contribution in excess of $1000 must be reported in five days.  Disclosure has been significantly enhanced.

Before this legislation passed, there were no limits on transfers from political parties to candidates.  A cap has been placed on those transfers in primary elections – the point at which every candidate enters the political process.

I will keep fighting to require caps on transfers from political parties for general elections.  But the compromise that was reached that does not include those caps is not a failure.  The federal campaign contribution laws do not include any limits on party transfers – in either a primary or general election.  Twenty five states have no limits on party transfers in either a primary or general election.  So the bill we passed is not, by any means, out of the mainstream for campaign finance laws in this country.

I appreciate your willingness to hear me out on what has been a protracted and contentious process.

Chair of MIPRC

Last month, I was honored to be elected the new chair of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC), a 10-state group of state legislators and officials leading efforts to improve the region’s passenger rail system.

The election occurred at on October 16 at the group’s two-day fall meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

The landscape for passenger rail has changed dramatically in the last twelve months and it requires MIPRC to chart a new course.  I look forward to the challenge of leading the group through this significant time of transition.

I will serve for one year along with Ohio Representative Bob Hagan, vice chair, and Robert Polk as financial secretary.  Mr. Polk is president of M2 International and serves as Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s private sector delegate to MIPRC.

 

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