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The Oregon legislature passed three bills to change the campaign finance laws, but the final call now rests with voters.

Voters to decide future of Oregon's campaign finance regulation

The future of Oregon's money-in-politics rules now rests on the shoulders of the voters: A 2020 ballot initiative will allow Oregonians to decide whether campaign finance regulation is constitutional.

Before the session ended on June 30, the Democratic-controlled legislature passed three bills to bolster transparency and regulation around election spending. But all three bills hinge on the first one advancing through the ballot initiative process.

The first measure received bipartisan approval by the House and Senate and could lay the groundwork for all future money-in-politics regulations within the state. It amends Oregon's constitution to allow future campaign finance laws to be enacted by the legislature, any governing body of a city, county, municipality or district in the state, and the people of Oregon through an initiative process.


Now that this measure has been passed by the legislature, it's up to Oregon voters to give the final approval. The ballot question will ask whether officials will be given the authority to limit big-money influences in Oregon politics.

The outcome of the ballot initiative will also determine the fate of two transparency bills passed by the legislature this session. If the ballot initiative is successful, these two bills will take effect immediately.

The first of the two transparency bills mandates the disclosure of the top five funding sources for a political advertisement made in support of or in opposition to a candidate. The second combats Oregon's dark money activity by requiring organizations that receive large donations ($10,000 or more) to disclose the name, address and aggregate amount given by each donor during a particular election cycle.

Two other pieces of campaign finance legislation in Oregon were considered this year, but ultimately did not gain enough traction to pass before the session ended.

One of the considered bills would have put limits on the total contributions a candidate or political committee can accept in an election cycle. The other would have established a Small Donor Elections Program to enable candidates running for state representative or state senator to receive 6-to-1 matching on small-dollar donations.

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The House on Friday passed legislation to restore a provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The bill would require advance approval of voting changes in states with a history of discrimination. Here President Lyndon Johnson shares one of the pens he used to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Passage of historic voting rights law takes a partisan turn

In a partisan vote on an issue that once was bipartisan, House Democrats pushed through legislation Friday that would restore a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House 228-187, with all Democrats voting for the bill and all but one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voting against it.

The bill faces virtually no chance of being considered in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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Big Picture

TV stations fight FCC over political ad disclosure

Broadcasters are pushing back against the Federal Communications Commission after the agency made clear it wants broader public disclosure regarding TV political ads.

With the 2020 election less than a year away and political TV ads running more frequently, the FCC issued a lengthy order to clear up any ambiguities licensees of TV stations had regarding their responsibility to record information about ad content and sponsorship. In response, a dozen broadcasting stations sent a petition to the agency, asking it to consider a more narrow interpretation of the law.

This dispute over disclosure rules for TV ads comes at a time when digital ads are subject to little regulation. Efforts to apply the same rules for TV, radio and print advertising across the internet have been stymied by Congress's partisanship and the Federal Election Commission being effectively out of commission.

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1952 Eisenhower Answers America

On TV, political ads are regulated – but online, anything goes

Lightman is a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.

With the 2020 election less than a year away, Facebook is under fire from presidential candidates, lawmakers, civil rights groups and even its own employees to provide more transparency on political ads and potentially stop running them altogether.

Meanwhile, Twitter has announced that it will not allow any political ads on its platform.

Modern-day online ads use sophisticated tools to promote political agendas with a high degree of specificity.

I have closely studied how information propagates through social channels and its impact on political messaging and advertising.

Looking back at the history of mass media and political ads in the national narrative, I think it's important to focus on how TV advertising, which is monitored by the Federal Communications Commission, differs fundamentally with the world of social media.

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