Reform in the States: A Roundup

This is part of a series examining ethics, transparency and campaign finance proposals in the states. 

Washington, D.C. is the only place in the country where money-in-politics reform is a tough sell. Outside the Beltway, America’s cities and states are taking the lead in implementing innovative policy solutions that get to the heart of the problem. Here’s a run-down on what’s happening right now:

  • Arkansas organizers are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would require stricter disclosure requirements and contribution limits. It also calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. If voters pass the initiative later this year, Arkansas would be the first southern state to support the reform amendment, and the seventeenth state overall. If you want to volunteer for the Arkansas Democracy Coalition, check out their website! 
  • In judicial news, a Ninth Circuit Appeals Panel upheld a Hawaii law that restricts government contractors from making campaign contributions. It’s a common sense law that ensures Hawaii tax dollars go to the best company for the job, not just the biggest campaign donor.
  • Oregon is moving closer to passing campaign contribution limits for legislative races. The Beaver State is one of six remaining without any campaign contribution limits, as Oregon’s two previous attempts to implement restrictions have been overturned by the State Supreme Court.
  • Texas has recently seen a spate of Republican-led legislative proposals to increase dark money disclosure requirements. While the bills narrowly failed, the growing bipartisan push for reform is a real step in the right direction.
  • In the Pacific Northwest, a Seattle group pushing for a voucher-based public financing ballot initiative filed 32,000 signatures with the City Clerk. I-122 would give voters four $25 vouchers to contribute to any candidate or candidates running for city office.

Capitol Hill ought to take note. Overall, more than 125 bills dealing with campaign finance reform have been introduced in 33 statehouses in the past five months, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.