Thursday, July 10, 2008

Clean Money moves forward in California

Clean Elections prospects in California are looking brighter. Last month, AB 583, the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act, authored by Assemblymember Loni Hancock and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, passed through the Senate Elections Committee on a 3-2 vote. Democratic Senators Ron Calderon, Jenny Oropeza, and Carole Migden voted for it and Republican Senators Jim Battin and Dave Cogdill voted against it. This was the first time in almost three decades that a public financing bill has advanced this far through the legislature. The bill already passed the Assembly last year.

The bill has a long list of grassroots political, environmental, consumer, labor and legal rights groups as well as Secretary of State Debra Bowen. The bill would fund Secretary of State races in 2014, and, as Ronda Paschal, speaking for Secretary Bowen at the hearing, said, "If this measure is implemented, it will mean that candidates for the Secretary of State can spend less time fundraising and more time reaching out to voters and discussing issues that matter to them."

The committee was impressed by the presence of some 40 volunteers who came from all over the state to support the bill, some of them driving overnight to get to Sacramento for the hearing. The record this time goes to Allan Beek, a Republican who drove all the way up from Orange County. The huge lineup of supporters who got up to the microphone and said they supported the bill also had a clear impact, say organizers.

After the hearing, volunteers fanned out through the Capitol to lobby for the bill. The group of Joni Eisen, Lauren Wechsler, and Jeff Diamond from San Francisco spoke with State Senator Leland Yee and got his commitment to co-author the bill on the spot.

The next step for AB 583 is in the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Clean Money supporter State Senator Tom Torlakson. If it passes through Appropriations, which it has to do by August, then it's on to the Senate Floor. Both will be major fights given this year's tough budget environment, so the bill will need all the help it can get.

For more info, visit the California Clean Money Campaign website at

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