Mo. House Democrats Push Ethics Reform Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY- During a news conference Monday, House Democrats announced they filed an ethics and campaign finance bill.

In February, the state Supreme Court struck down a similar 2010 ethics law due to certain provisions tied to the bill.

The current bill would cap donations to candidates for legislative and statewide office at $5,000 and require donors to report to the Ethics Commission any donations of more than $2,000 within 48 hours. Lawmakers and their family members could not accept more than $1,000 in lobbyist expenditures each year.

The bill also gives the Ethics Commission more authority to investigate campaign finance.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Tishaura Jones, D-St. Louis, said that the Republican leadership needs to make the bill a priority for it to move forward.

"We were elected to be serious about ethics reform and not play games. For more than a month we've waited for action from Republican leadership," Jones said. 

But House Speaker Steve Tilley said he will treat this bill like any other this session, and does not plan on making it a priority bill.

He added that the bill would probably have a better chance of passing if the provision to cap campaign donations were taken out.

"I've always had an issue with campaign contribution limits because it leads to what we had before," said Tilley.

Tilley said that before campaign donation limits were repealed, donors gave to committees rather than individuals. He argued that this made tracking campaign finance more difficult.

Currently, a similar ethics reform bill is stalled in the Senate Rules Committee.