Vote delayed on bill for campaign finance

The proposal was set aside in an attempt to manage the flow of legislation.
COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Senate delayed consideration Wednesday of a bill that would bar local political officeholders or candidates from soliciting or accepting political contributions from local government employees.
Maggie Mitchell, a spokeswoman for majority Senate Republicans, said Senate leaders delayed full consideration of the measure, sponsored by state Sen. Robert F. Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat, to better manage the flow of bills to the Senate floor.
Mitchell said the full Senate could consider Hagan's measure as early as next week.
The Senate State, Local Government and Veterans Affairs Committee approved the measure Tuesday. Hagan, who's running in Tuesday's Democratic primary for Youngstown mayor, said he has received assurances from GOP Senate leaders his measure would be considered next week.
Under current law, state elected officeholders, candidates for state office and their political action committees cannot solicit campaign contributions from state employees. The ban was created as part of the Legislature's campaign-finance reform package adopted in 1995.
Backers of Hagan's measure say the bill would simply extend the prohibition to local officeholders and local government employees.
Among the measure's backers are The League of Women Voters of Ohio and state Attorney General Jim Petro, a Republican.
Hagan's bill, which has been amended to cover only employees directly appointed by the local government officials, would extend the current penalty for violation by state officeholders to local officeholders and their campaign committees -- a first-degree misdemeanor and a fine equal to three times the amount accepted in the violation.
Under Hagan's bill, an officeholder or political candidate who unknowingly accepts a contribution must return the donation, and no civil penalties would be sought.
If passed by the full Senate, Hagan's measure would have to be considered by the GOP-led Ohio House of Representatives as well as signed by Republican Gov. Bob Taft to become state law.

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