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MO House passes changes to campaign finance laws

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By AP/KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Legislation revising Missouri's campaign finance laws gained initial approval Tuesday in the state House. It would require the Ethics Commission to audit campaign finance reports for accuracy.

Candidates who fail to fix errors within a month would forfeit those contributions or expenses.

But the bill doesn't do away with contribution limits or make other sweeping changes that were part of a separate proposal that cleared the Senate last month.

The House legislation also bars people running for House Speaker or Senate President Pro Tem from forming a candidate committee.

Put the Senate bill would do away with Missouri's contribution limits to political candidates a move supporters claimed would make campaign spending clearer to the public. The Senate proposal also would prohibit lobbyists from providing lawmakers or their staffs or families with travel, lodging or tickets, such as to sporting events or concerts, without prior approval by the House or Senate administration committees. And the Senate version further bans candidates for the House, Senate or statewide office lawmakers or challengers from accepting campaign contributions during the legislative session. The House bill makes no such restriction.

Both measures restrict lobbyist spending on caucuses to just those of either political party in the House or Senate. The intent is that when lobbyists pay for meals for a group of lawmakers with some shared interest, they would have to report the expense for each lawmaker.

Both bills also would require state legislative candidates to file campaign finance reports electronically, which statewide candidates already must do. The legislation needs another vote to move to the Senate.

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