Campaign Finance Reform Bill Brings Accountability To Elections
During the second week of the session, the House passed a piece of legislation that is sure to have a significant effect on elections for years to come. Elections have been one of the areas in which I’ve served often as a House member, and the need for campaign finance reform has always been an issue. House Bill 479 provides a first step in providing transparency and accountability in the campaign finance arena.
The measure was brought to the House with a prior review by the Rules Committee. It defines and outlines how campaign contributions can be used and offers acceptable options for what can be done with leftover contributions after a campaign or service is over.
I view this action by the House as a very important first step toward getting our campaign finance laws brought up to speed. The public deserves to know who is giving to candidates and where that money goes. It is no secret that campaigning takes money, and spending that money should be subject to election laws, in my opinion. There was quite a bit of discussion on some of the terms included in the bill, which I didn’t think were specific enough. I think there was some merit in concerns – in my experience most candidates want to make sure they do the right thing on these reports. The more specific we can be, the more likely it is that folks won’t make mistakes on their reports.
The Mississippi Ethics Commission will oversee the enforcement of this bill. It passed 102-13 and has now gone to the Senate for their review and action. Hopefully, any snags in the language will be caught and straightened out at that time. I voted for the measure because I wanted to see the ball start rolling on this very important topic.
The Ways and Means Committee on which I serve passed House Bill 131, which authorizes the Department of Revenue to compromise and settle a state tax liability that is a doubtful claim. The bill passed without opposition and will be sent to the Senate. The people stand to gain over $1 million in these funds that have been lingering in dispute for years. I was glad to cosponsor this bill.
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