Democrats refile initiative to sidestep rejection

Posted: Friday, September 05, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Democrat lawmakers backing a pair of initiatives to lower campaign contribution limits and change the way U.S. Senate vacancies are filled refiled their petitions on Thursday.

The group made changes to their original proposals after the state's attorney general found technical problems with each initiative, said Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage.

The other sponsors include Reps. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage and David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks.

The campaign finance initiative also incorporates limits on so-called ''soft money'' donations to parties that were upheld in August by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Lt. Gov. Loren Leman must certify the petitions before the sponsors can begin gathering signatures to get the measures on the 2004 general election ballot. The group has until Jan. 12, when the Legislature returns, to gather more than 23,000 signatures.

One initiative would roll back limits on political contributions that were doubled by the GOP-controlled Legislature this year along a party line vote.

It also changes lobbying regulations relaxed this year and would require people to register as lobbyists after spending at least 10 hours in a 30-day period attempting to influence government. The current law is 40 hours in a 30-day period.

The measure limits individual contributions to candidates to $500 and contributions to political parties to $5,000. It would cut current contribution limits in half.

Democrats also propose eliminating a new requirement that all campaign contributions, regardless of the amount, be reported in disclosure forms. Their initiative proposes candidates report only contributions over $100.

Another initiative was proposed in reaction to Gov. Frank Murkowski's decision to appoint his daughter to serve his unexpired term in the U.S. Senate seat. The initiative would require a special election to fill an unexpired vacancy in the U.S. Senate, mirroring state law on filling a vacancy in Alaska's lone U.S. Representative seat.

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