FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 5, 2013) — A bill that would allow candidates in Kentucky Supreme Court races to receive public financing for their campaigns cleared the Kentucky House today on a 48-46 vote.
House Bill 31, sponsored by Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, would base public financing for eligible candidates on funds spent in the previous state Supreme Court race, said Wayne. Financing would come from a “clean judicial elections fund” — which would include voluntary donations and funding from a state income tax check-off, among other sources — and be distributed equally to participating qualified candidates.
“The purpose of this bill is to make sure that we have really qualified judges who are not beholden to anyone because of campaign contributions,” Wayne told the House before the vote.
State Supreme Court candidates would be eligible for public financing after raising $10,000 (including donations of no more than $25 from 200 individuals and another $5,000 donated under current state campaign contribution law) and agreeing to take no additional contributions for their campaign, Wayne said.
Wayne said funding spent on judicial races nationwide in states where judges are elected, not appointed, totaled over $30 million in 2012 for TV advertising alone. In 1990, he said, the total spent on those races nationwide was $3 million.
HB 31 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.