House Bill 1517, signed by the Governor on August 30, 2007, sets up a pilot program for publicly financed races for 3 of the 10 Council of State races. Beginning in 2008, candidates for Commissioner of Insurance, State Auditor, and Superintendent of Public Instruction will have the voluntary option of financing their campaigns using a publicly supported fund, but only if they can demonstrate adequate grassroots support, spelled out in the bill. The law contains rescue fund provisions similar to those in HB 1828. This pilot project, which will be reviewed regularly, is very important given that the candidates for those seats often have to raise money from communities they regulate. It should allow for more interested citizens to run, since the costs associated with a statewide race now exceed $1million. And it will free up the candidates to focus on the issues and to have more time to interact with the voting public. As a participant in two very expensive legislative races, I look forward to an alternative financing system for our legislative races as well.
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