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Speaker: Minnesota House to tackle campaign, disclosure issues

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, Democrats, Republicans Updated: February 19, 2014 - 5:22 PM

The Minnesota House will try to expand disclosure required of political spending and the disclosure required of their own economic interests this year, House Speaker Paul Thissen said.

Both are issues that arose last year but were left undone.

Current law requires certain types of groups to disclose their political fundraising and spending but lets other groups, particularly political non-profits, to spend on politics without giving much public information. To change that, lawmakers propose that Minnesota require most everyone who spends on politics to release public information no matter what type of group the spending comes from.

"I think people understand the need," Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said. In 2013, the House rejected similar proposals.

He also said that since the session ended last spring, lawmakers have been talking about beefing up the law dictating what public officials have to release about their own economic interests.

 

"We are ready to go on that bill," Thissen said.

Minnesota right now makes lawmakers and others fill out economic disclosure forms but those forms don't actually contain very enlightening information and are frequently out of date. Many other states require lawmakers to release far more information.

Thissen said lawmakers are also eyeing undoing an exception to a gift ban that state put in place last year. Generally, lawmakers are severely restricted on their ability to attend free events sponsored by lobbyists. But the new exemption allows lobbyists to wine and dine lawmakers, as long as the entire Legislature is invited to the party.

Thissen said the House agreed to the provision last year as part of a compromise with the Senate. And this year, House members want to roll back that exception.

Photo: House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, speaking on Wednesday at a University of Minnesota conference about campaign finance.

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