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Vt. lawmakers look at changing rules on running for office - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers look at changing rules on running for office

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Tuesday, the Vermont Senate Committee tasked with overseeing Government Operations agreed to change the rules governing how lawmakers run for office. The legislation has started and stalled multiple times this year.

"It's going to be the final bill unless there are amendments on the floor it's going to be what it is," said Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham County.

The plan sets caps for donors, politicians and super PACs.

A House member could receive $3,000 from their party, $750 from political committees and single sources-- like an individual voter or a labor organization.

Senators could receive twice that.

So could statewide officeholders, but political parties could contribute $85,000 for those campaigns.

Single sources can't give more than $25,000 to candidates and political committees or parties. 

"I think we struck a good balance," White said.

Committee chair Jeanette White says the goal is to allow politicians enough resources to run effective campaigns, but not enough to reduce public confidence in their integrity. Lawmakers say they're mindful of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that tossed an earlier Vermont law for setting donation limits too low and a Supreme Court case finding corporate campaign contributions to be protected free speech.

"It's not as much difficult as it is complex," said Sen. John Campbell, D-Vt. President Pro Tem.

Campbell says Vermont's campaign law hasn't been updated in more than a decade and he says reform is needed.

"We're not going to allow someone to buy an election," Campbell said.

The bill would require more transparency in donations and political ad funding, including new reporting requirements.

Campbell says though large, new, in-state spending didn't lead to political victories this last year, they hope Vermont will be a little less green in time for the next election cycle in 2014.

The bill is expected to reach the Senate floor Wednesday. Opponents say caps on spending will hit mom and pop campaigning along with super PACs.

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