FRANKFORT – Looking to update Kentucky’s campaign-finance laws, House Speaker Greg Stumbo pre-filed legislation on Friday that would increase political donation limits and bring campaign-finance laws in line with court rulings.
“In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision five years ago to essentially open up the floodgates for independent political expenditures, it is more important than ever that our candidates have the resources they need to make sure their own voice is heard,” House Speaker Stumbo said. “This legislation is also needed because the donation limits we set years ago have not kept pace with the rising cost of inflation.”
Under the Speaker’s bill, the contribution limits would double in several ways. Donations from individuals and political action committees (PACs) to candidates and campaign committees would rise from $1,000 to $2,000 and the upper limit for donations to caucus campaigns and state and local executive committees would go from $2,500 to $5,000. Current rules governing aggregate PAC donations would change after the first $20,000 rather than the current $10,000.
The individual and PAC donation limits to candidates and campaign committees would be indexed to the cost of inflation and adjusted every odd-numbered year. This would mirror the law for federal races.
In addition, the Speaker’s bill would allow the state’s two political parties to establish a separate building fund account and make it possible for corporations to contribute to it.
In the wake of court rulings on campaign finance matters, Speaker Stumbo’s bill would also update the law to bring it in compliance. That includes clarifying that electioneering limits around polling places do not bar campaign signs on private property and that candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are not limited in the amount of personal loans they can make to themselves.
The Speaker’s bill will be considered during the 2016 Regular Session, which begins January 5. If enacted, the changes to contribution limits for candidates would apply to elections occurring after July 15, 2016.