Thursday, April 09, 2009
Legislators pass bill to assist to schools and libraries, kind of
by Larry Geller
No, it’s really that campaign spending bill. This time it doesn’t have any $25,000 or $50,000 limit on corporate contributions. It lets stand the current $1,000 limit, still under dispute in the courts. It has something new for what lawmakers can do with their contributions in order to
buy votes assist struggling schools and libraries.
As predicted, HB128 passed its final committee hearing this morning. There was testimony against the part added about contributions that candidates may make but it is still in there, including this:
(4) To make donations to any public school or public library; provided that any donation under this paragraph shall not be subjected to and counted towards the limit imposed in paragraph (3);
So watch for photo-ops with incumbents and school teams. They can buy them uniforms. Forget any limits, they can just buy. Or maybe a library will dedicate a collection to a state legislator who pays for it (maybe one on ethics in politics? Sorry).
It does hold out the prospect that struggling schools and libraries may soon have friends at the state legislature. Many friends. Need textbooks? Lobby a legislator. Need team uniforms? Recruit your senator. Want that roof repaired? Make sure your representative stays in office so she/he will get lots of contributions and might fix your roof.
Same for charities, of course. And when lawmakers get done serving in the lege, you can reward them with a nice, cushy position in your own organization. Smack! No, did I really say that? Of course, no ethical legislator would ever do such a thing. To be sure, though, the entire section on charitable contributions should have been deleted from the bill.
Next stop: into the Tunnel of Love, the darkness of the conference committee, where anything can happen to a bill as it leaves public scrutiny entirely.
(Thanks to Dave Shapiro for taking up this issue and for his kind words about this blog in his article this morning, Legislators want to play Easter Bunny)