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Bills proposed in NC House would reduce reports surrounding campaign contributions

A sample ballot for the 2018 midterm elections
Jason deBruyn

State House lawmakers are considering looser campaign finance reporting rules.

Bills that passed their first committee on Tuesday would reduce the number of reports required for large donations in the final weeks before an election.

Current law requires disclosures within 48 hours when a candidate receives a donation of $1,000 or more. The House bill would only require reports for donations larger than $2,000. And candidates who are running unopposed in a primary wouldn't have to file the disclosures in the weeks ahead of the primary date.

The WUNC Politics Podcast is a free-flowing discussion of what we're hearing in the back hallways of the General Assembly and on the campaign trail across North Carolina.

Another bill would allow donors to make anonymous cash contributions up to $100. Current law limits those donations to $50. Republicans sponsoring the bills say the change is needed to address inflation.

"When money only buys what it used to buy if you double up on it, we ought to recognize that as legislators," said Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke and the sponsor of one of the bills. "So it seems to me that change is appropriate."

Democrats like Rep. Cynthia Ball oppose the change. "I'd rather see us go the other direction," she said. "We need more transparency in all that we do in our elections, from how we fund it to how we report it."

Another provision in the bills that passed a committee Tuesday would increase the font size of political party labels on election ballots. While current law leaves ballot designs largely up to elections officials, the bill calls for the candidate's party label to appear "in italics font and at least 10-point in font size."

Blackwell says he had trouble reading the ballot last year. But Rep. Allison Dahle, D-Wake, says she worries that the bigger fonts could mean more voters don't bother to reach the end of the ballot.

"The 10-point font is going to make the ballot longer, and we already have a problem in North Carolina with people voting down the ballot," she said.

The bills now head to the House Rules Committee.

Colin Campbell covers politics for WUNC as the station's capitol bureau chief.
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