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Florida lawmakers pass campaign finance, ethics reforms

4:24 PM, Apr 24, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As the clock ticks down on Florida's 2013 legislative session, state lawmakers are starting to wheel and deal.

The Senate passed a campaign finance reform bill Wednesday and in exchange, the House passed ethics reform legislation.

Senate President Don Gaetz pushed hard for the ethics bill, while House Speaker Will Weatherford considered campaign finance reform one of his top priorities.

The new campaign rules would raise the limit on political contributions from $500 per election to $3,000 for statewide candidates and $1,000 for state lawmakers and lower offices.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said the new contribution limits have been used in the past.

"These are the levels that were in the statute up to 1991 and so we're basically just returning to the level of contribution that we had 20-some odd years ago."

But Gov. Rick Scott remains unconvinced about the need for higher contribution limits. He said no one has explained to him why the state should take that action.

"No one's showed me a rationale for raising these limits. So I don't know why we'd be doing it, so I haven't seen the rationale yet."

The campaign finance reform legislation also eliminates Florida's murky Committees of Continuous Existence, but replaces them with something similar: political committees would be able to take in unlimited amounts of donations, just as the CCE's were allowed to do.

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