Friday, April 12, 2013

SB 49 Campaign Finance Reform Passed Committee, Now Moving to Full Senate

Last month, we discussed the importance of the campaign finance & ethics reform bills pending in the Nevada Legislature this session. One such is bill is SB 49, Secretary of State Ross Miller's bill that calls for more campaign finance reporting. Believe it or not, SB 49 also moved out of committee yesterday. And that's no small feat.

So what happened? Yesterday, the bill had its final day in the Senate Legislative Operations & Elections Committee. A few members grumbled over the reporting requirements.

And then, the bill was amended. Secretary Miller already changed the minimum amount of immediately reportable contributions from $1,000 to $2,000. He also decided to include internet advertising as required expenditure reporting, and he agreed to exclude charitable and educational events from gift reporting. But on top of that, Senator Kelvin Atkinson (D-North Las Vegas) further amended the bill by delaying the start of the new reporting rules to 2014.

And then, finally, it was time to vote. Senators Barbara Cegavske (R-Spring Valley) and James Settlemeyer (R-Minden) voted against SB 49. Meanwhile, Senators Atkinson, Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas), and Mark Manendo (D-Paradise) voted in favor. So SB 49 passed as amended.

So was it watered down some? Yep, though it was also strengthened in other ways (like required online ad reporting). But ultimately, it passed committee. It's moving onto the full Senate. And finally, something may happen.

How often have we seen ugly corruption scandals emerge? And how often have we seen the exact same reaction of petty finger pointing while offering no real solutions?

It's time for a chance. And SB 49 starts to move Nevada in a new direction of transparency. Knowledge truly is power. And the more we know about the flow of money in and out of campaigns, the more we can do to identify the problems in our campaign finance system and change them.

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