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GOP lawmakers seek special session on campaign financing

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HELENA (AP) – A group of Republican lawmakers wants the Legislature to hold a special session in August to consider raising campaign contribution limits to be more in line with those in nearby states—or abolishing them altogether.

The legislators filed their request on Tuesday with the Secretary of State’s Office, just a week before the June 7 primary and just two weeks after a federal judge struck down Montana’s voter-approved limits. The Secretary of State has five days to begin surveying the 150 members of the House and Senate.

Lawmakers also would consider closing what some consider a loophole that, in effect, allows political parties to pay the salaries of campaign staffers and provide unlimited in-kind personnel services.

It would cost about $92,000 to reconvene the Legislature for a one-day session, and $44,000 for each additional day.

The last time a special session was convened was in September 2007, when the Legislature met for a single day to budget money for fire suppression and disaster relief.

Rep. Matthew Monforton, a Republican from Bozeman, said the current limits—put in place by Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl following the judge’s May 17 ruling—were too low to mount an effective campaign. He called the new limits arbitrary.

Motl said that the current limits were based on the limits in place prior to a 1994 initiative that imposed limits that were struck down May 17.

Copyright 2016 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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