The California Senate reversed course Monday by approving a fundraising ban it rejected last week.
Senate Bill 1101 would prohibit anyone running for the state Legislature from accepting or soliciting campaign donations during two one-month periods: when lawmakers deliberate over the state budget from mid-May to mid-June, and during the final month of session as they vote on scores of contentious bills.
The bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, is similar to a rule the Senate passed last week to ban campaign fundraising in the upper house during two blackout periods. But the rule would apply only to the Senate and need to be renewed each session, while SB 1101 would create a law that applies indefinitely to both houses of the Legislature. Because the bill amends California's Political Reform Act, it requires approval from two-thirds of state lawmakers.
It fell short of that margin last week when Senate Republicans argued that the bill didn't make clear that it covered all legislative candidates -- not just incumbents. Padilla got their votes when he brought it back today by saying he promised to make that amendment as the bill moves through the Assembly. It passed today with bipartisan support from 32 senators.
Republican Sen. Joel Anderson voted "no" and four senators withheld their votes: Democratic Sen. Bill Monning and Republican Sens. Tom Berryhill, Ted Gaines and Mimi Walters.
"With today's vote, we are one step closer to improving the public's confidence in state government," Padilla said in a statement. "A fundraising blackout will help reduce the unseemly overlap of public policy and campaign contributions."
PHOTO: Sen. Alex Padilla, chair of the Senate Energy Committee, listens to testimony on why the state Energy Commission has been unable to spend millions of federal stimulus dollars on August 1, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Jose Luis Villegas.