By Jamey Dunn
A bill that would limit campaign contributions for the first time in Illinois passed both chambers, but critics said the proposal wouldn’t take reform efforts far enough.
The House voted to approve HB 7, the campaign finance reform bill that is opposed by numerous reform groups, including Gov. Pat Quinn’s own Illinois Reform Commission. Quinn ended up backing the bill and testified in a House committee last Friday in support of it.
Members of both parties voiced opposition to the bill because they said it veered too far from the suggestions of the commission.
Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, said that it had gaping loopholes and was inconsistent in the way it placed different limits on different groups. She then voted in favor of the bill. “While this bill is far from the one we need, it is the one we have,” she said.
Rep. Kathleen Ryg from Vernon Hills was one of a handful of Democrats that cast a “present” vote. “Even the supporters of this bill recognize that it’s only better than nothing,” she said.
The House also unanimously passed a different provision that would create a task force to study the merits of implementing a public financing system for judicial races. Quinn’s reform commission recommended starting a pilot program to publicly finance judges, making the task force measure a watered-down solution.
Democrats who supported the campaign finance provisions in the bill said that it was a good start and could be revisited later.