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MD Lawmakers Consider Corporate Campaign Finance Changes

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By Natalie Neumann

Lawmakers in Maryland's General Assembly are introducing legislation in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that threw out limits on corporate campaign spending.

Lawmakers hope the bills will ease problems triggered by last week's ruling. Among other things, the bills would require complete disclosure of a corporation's state expenditures, outlaw corporate donations to campaigns if they receive more than $5,000 in state contracts and not allow companies to deduct political contributions.

Senator Brian Frosh, a Democrat from Montgomery County and chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, is proposing a bill requiring advanced shareholder approval before a corporation donates to campaigns.

"It's something that will bring about greater corporate democracy and at least help preserve democracy in Maryland while we're at it," he says.

Democratic Senator Jamie Raskin, also from Montgomery County, says the proposals are particularly important because of the Wall Street bailout.

"We took more than $1 trillion of taxpayer money and gave it to these companies and now the Supreme Court has said those companies can get involved in our elections," he says. "I think that's alarming to people across the political spectrum."

Raskin anticipates bipartisan support for the bills.

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