The Vermont Senate might soon scrap the Green Mountain State’s campaign finance law in its entirety in favor of new legislation.  The pending bill would change contribution limits, increase reporting frequency, and require groups paying for electioneering communications to disclose their major donors.  The ambitious bill, which is making its way through the state senate, appears to have bipartisan support.

Among the changes, the current iteration of the bill:

  • Removes an important exception that allows Federal PACs contributing to Vermont candidates to comply with state reporting requirements by filing copies of their FEC reports with the state.
  • Requires political committees to file quarterly reports in off-years and, in election years, monthly reports through July 15, bi-monthly reports through the election, and post-election reports. This nearly triples the number of reports required under current law.
  • Imposes additional reporting requirements for groups funding mass media communications that refer to candidates within the 45 days preceding an election, regardless of the content of the communication.
  • Sets forth biennial contribution limits of $25,000 to candidates and $25,000 to political committees and parties.
  • Imposes increased reporting requirements for those making electioneering communications, including requiring disclosure of the names of those who contributed more than 25 percent of all contributions to the committee making the expenditure.

The new law also imposes a $3,000 limit on single source contributions to political committees, including state Super PACs.  In a creative bit of legislating designed to avoid constitutional challenge, however, those limits apply only if, in pending litigation, federal courts conclude that such limits are constitutional.