I have been supporting and advocating for a proposed Carrboro campaign regulation bill as of late. The BOA unanimously presented this to the legislative delegation last year, and we did so again this year. The Senate approved it last summer during the long session, and the bill has been considered by the House this week. I understand the bill may be modified slightly from the Senate version.

Passage of this bill would establish enabling legislation, which would then allow the Board to have a hearing, receive public input, and then consider whether or how to adopt any campaign regulation ordinance. Having this bill passed is the first step toward ultimately crafting an ordinance.

The bill will give Carrboro the authority to limit campaign contributions. Our bill is modeled after a Chapel Hill bill that has been successfully implemented over the past few election cycles. Chapel Hill limits individual contributions to a maximum of $250. This has proved to be a workable number for their elections. Note that the candidate and his/her family members are exempt from such regulations. Public input at the hearing would help us determine what we would do in Carrboro.

I have received inquiries regarding any minimum amount we would consider setting for disclosure. State law now requires the disclosure of all donors over $50 or more, and we think that is adequate. I have also been asked why the bill only applies to in-state donors (as it currently reads, it does not apply to out-of-state donors). The answer is that we did want to include out-of-state donors, and we had it as part of our original bill. Someone at the General Assembly took it out; I was told that it was believed to be in conflict with federal election law. Representative Verla Insko is working to see if this can be resolved definitively so that we can have the bill apply to all donors.

As many of you know, I voluntarily limited my contributions to $100 during my race, and did not accept any PAC money. Several other area candidates did or do so as well. Carrboro races to date have all been fairly low-cost affairs, and this act is a way to memorialize what the practice has been. This is a progressive campaign finance policy, much like the public financing programs at the state level for the appellate judicial races, and much like reform that is needed at the national level.

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