House panel approves bill that would alter funding rules for gubernatorial candidates

jbrammer@herald-leader.comMarch 11, 2014 

FRANKFORT — House Speaker Greg Stumbo's bill aimed at allowing candidates running for governor and other state constitutional offices to compete on a more level financial playing field won bipartisan support Tuesday in a state House committee.

Under House Bill 366, once a candidate for governor or his or her running mate donates $1 million or more to the candidate's campaign committee, all other candidates would be able to accept donations of $2,500 a person, instead of the current $1,000 limit.

The changes would apply to primary and general elections. However, if a self-funding candidate fails to advance out of a primary election, the $1,000 donation cap would be reapplied through the rest of the general election.

Candidates for Kentucky's other statewide constitutional offices — attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and agriculture commissioner — would all have to follow similar rules if a candidate for these offices chooses to self-fund his or her campaign.

However, for those offices, the contribution limit would increase once a candidate or his immediate family donates $500,000 to the campaign.

Stumbo told the committee that Illinois has had such a system for about 10 years.

He later told reporters that his bill wasn't directed at any particular candidate and would not favor him if he should run for governor in 2015. So far, the only candidate who has announced a gubernatorial campaign is Hal Heiner, a Republican businessman and multimillionaire from Louisville.

The House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee gave unanimous approval to the bill, which now goes to the full House.

The House committee also approved Tuesday a constitutional amendment that would establish an independent commission to set salaries for state legislators and state constitutional officers. The commission's work could be subject to a public referendum.

House Bill 182 is sponsored by Rep. Dwight Butler, R-Harned.

Stumbo said he wasn't familiar enough with the proposal to comment on its prospects in the House.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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