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UPDATE: The Clean Elections bill, SSB 1173, passed out of the Senate State Government Committee on February 8, 2007!

For immediate release February 6, 2007

For more information, contact:
Adam Mason, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
515-282-0484 or adam@iowacci.org

Iowa moves closer to adopting VOICE legislation

Des Moines, Iowa – Legislation to enact a Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE) system was passed out of committee in the Iowa House Tuesday afternoon by a vote of 14-7. The bill, modeled after systems already in place in Maine, Arizona, and Connecticut, would work to reduce the influence of money in political campaigns, by providing public financing to viable candidates if they choose to use the system.

Seven states currently have some form of clean elections legislation on the books, and another thirty states’ legislatures are looking into implementing the system. There is also a growing movement at the federal level to enact clean elections reform.

Rep. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, has introduced Clean Elections legislation in recent years, and has been a long time advocate for effective campaign reform. VOICE legislation has worked to lower the cost of elections, increase the number of candidates, and restore the power to voters in the states that are using the system.

Sen. Mike Connolly, D-Dubuque, has introduced the companion legislation in the Senate. The Senate State Government Committee will be considering the bill on Thursday afternoon, where it is expected to pass as well.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has been pushing for the reforms for a number of years, working to educate Iowans about Clean Elections legislation, where money matters less, and people matter more.

“Democrat, Republican or Independent, the current election funding system and escalating campaign costs trap candidates in a need to constantly fund raise,” said Iowa CCI member Bernadette Siebert, from Ames. “VOICE would eliminate the need to fund raise and let elected officials focus more on meeting with constituents and responding to the needs of voters.”

VOICE would provide a limited but competitive amount of public financing to candidates who prove they are viable through the collection of petition signatures and $5 donations. This provides an opportunity for those interested in running for public office to run without having access to wealthy donors and special interest contributions.

CCI member Charlie Day from Des Moines added, “It’s no surprise that most people feel that money has too much of an influence in current politics. But most people don’t know what we can do about it. VOICE opens the door to reduce that influence and restores a needed balance to our political system, and we know it is working because other states are using it.”

The voluntary VOICE system would go into effect for the 2010 election cycle. The bill also includes provisions to provide for electronic campaign reporting, campaign contribution limits, and increased transparency in the way Political Action Committees and 527 groups use advertisements to try and influence elections.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a 32-year-old organization with thousands of members across Iowa from all walks of life who talk, act and get things done on critical issues impacting everyday Iowans. For more information on VOICE, or Iowa CCI, visit www.iowacci.org.

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