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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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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a trio of democracy reform bills this week.

California governor signs three political reform bills

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday three democracy reform bills focused on local redistricting, voting access and campaign contributions.

The first piece of legislation prohibits partisan gerrymandering at the local level by establishing criteria for cities and counties to use when adjusting district boundaries. While California is the largest state to use an independent redistricting commission to draw its congressional and state district maps, local districts did not have the same regulations.

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Gov. Ralph Northam used his executive authority to restore voting rights for felons, noting that Virginia is among the states that permanently strips such rights after a felony conviction.

Virginia governor restores voting rights to over 22,000 felons

More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.

In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.

Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.

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