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3/23/2016 House passes Edwards legislation that would tighten language, increase accountability in campaign finance law
STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives has passed legislation submitted by Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) that would increase the accountability of the campaign finance law by clarifying language.

The bill (2016-H 7147A) would clarify the definition of the term “entity” for purposes of campaign finance as it pertains to advocating for the approval or rejection of any question presented to voters at a financial town meeting, financial town referendum, or local election involving charter amendments. The act would include business entities, political action committees, persons and exempt nonprofits in the definition of an “entity.”

The passage of the legislation in the House comes just days after American journalists observed Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.

“It is fitting that this bill received committee approval during Sunshine Week,” said Representative Edwards “It is casting light on what has been in the shadows for a long time. The legislation would extend the power of campaign finance legislation by clarifying which people and groups are obliged to submit campaign finance reports. It also extends those provisions to those who campaign for or against financial and charter change referendums.”

While in the House Judiciary Committee, the bill was amended to change the timing of the filing of the campaign finance reports from every seven days to the schedule for the filing of all other campaign finance reports.

 “We made some good progress two years ago in campaign finance reform,” said Whip Edwards. “But we need to revisit this topic every year to review the laws and make whatever adjustments are necessary to hold all parties accountable. I think this bill is an important one to keep the campaigning of local issues fair for everyone involved.”

The measure, which passed the House, 66 to 11, now heads to the Senate, where similar legislation (2016-S 2369) has been introduced by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).

The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton), Mary Duffy Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket), Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Minority Leader Brian C. Newberry (R-Dist. 48, North Smithfield, Burrillville).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903