Tuesday (4/21/15) marked a great day for Oregon voters as the state Senate held a hearing for two bills on campaign finance reform. The 75-seat hearing room was packed with supporters of the two proposed bills, Senate Bill 75 and Senate Joint Resolution 5, with the room overflowing into the lobby. Although similar bills to limit campaign contributions have appeared in the past, this hearing marked a great step forward as the proposed bills will allow Oregonians to vote on a constitutional amendment that will provide the means for these contribution limits to actually take effect.
Supporters came out with full force at Tuesday’s hearing and the lineup of testimony reflected the overwhelming support for contribution limits in the state. Of the 39 people who came to testify, only 3 people opposed the proposed bills. Governor Kate Brown kicked off the testimony and a long line of other political all-stars turned out in support. Testimony after testimony showed legislators that people across the state are calling to limit the money given to candidates. From the governor to constituents, the testimonies given expressed the huge support for allowing voters to have their voices heard in politics--and heard they were.
Legislators engaged with those testifying, discussing everything from possible expansion of the proposed bills to include limiting spending on ballot measures to what it means to limit free speech to what potential effects of the bill would be. Question after question in opposition to the bills were shot down with grace by those testifying, showing the Senate committee that supporters care and have thought through what it will take to level the playing field in Oregon politics. Overwhelmingly, Oregonians believe that campaign finance limits are the answer to the rising inequality in who is heard when electing voters. One particularly poignant moment included a testimony that recounted the shock and horror of a campaign director on the national level upon hearing that Oregon races had no contribution limits. Although the battle to limit the influence of money in politics is far from over, this hearing seems to show that we are one step closer to winning this fight.
Keep up the good work, Oregon!