$8000 PAC limit to be proposed.
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Lawmakers arriving in Pierre on Monday also were greeted with their first look at a package of legislation reforming some of the state's campaign finance reporting laws.
"We'll spend some time on that issue. It's an important one," said Republican Sen. Bob Gray of Fort Pierre. He's the president pro-tem of the Senate.
Secretary of State Chris Nelson is pushing the package. It includes limits, for the first time, on contributions by individuals to political action committees. Nelson proposes an $8,000 limit for those committees.
"That makes a lot of sense," said Sen. Ben Nesselhuf, D-Vermillion. "I still think we also need to include those subfunds and other political funds in reporting requirements."
It also seeks to raise the amount that individuals may contribute legally to legislative and statewide candidates. It also proposes a $50 per day fine for late filing of campaign reports. About 30 legislative candidates missed the deadline last summer, Nelson said.
Several questions about campaign reports from the past election assure that the Nelson package will be among the more closely watched bills of the session.For legislators, contributions from individuals could be no more than $1,000. The limit now is $250. The limit for contributions to legislators from other candidates' campaign committees would be $8,000.
Nelson said Monday that the limits on campaign contributions haven't been altered since 1975. His proposal raises the numbers roughly the same level as the rate of inflation.
"I don't know of many legislative candidates who will get $1,000 contributions, although some could," Gray said.
It's about time the campaign donation limits were raised. Now the only question remains whether or not it is going to put a stop to the abuses out there, or will they create only a minor obstacle, easily hurdled just as they are now.