Lawmakers will take up two bills this week that propose to change campaign reporting regulations.

  • Senate Bill 86 is scheduled to be heard 3 p.m. Monday by the State Administration Committee.
  • House Bill 131 is slated to be heard 9 a.m. on Thursday by the same committee.

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said together, the bills increase the public's access to information about money in campaigns. (See related story.)

In an email, Rep. Ellie Hill said she is sponsoring HB131 at the request of Motl. The Missoula Democrat said former Missoula City Councilman Dave Strohmaier requested she sponsor identical legislation after he lost his bid to serve in the house.

"Basically, this bill would change a candidate's early reporting of what they raised and spent to just before the absentee ballots are mailed," Hill said in her email. "(A candidate currently makes this last pre-Election Day disclosure about a week before Election Day.)"

"The end-of-campaign, pre-Election Day disclosures are really important for fair campaigning because it allows one's opponent to know how much money was spent and who is investing in the campaign, as well as how much money the other candidate has left to spend before Election Day.

"Such a high percentage of Montanans vote by mail now, that elections in Montana are generally 'over' after the mail ballots are sent, which is a full month before the actual election day, so it makes sense to adjust the pre-election disclosure requirement to just before the mail ballots are sent."

SB86 would require electronic reporting, Motl said. The bills together would give the public the latest campaign information on candidates and make it available right away to anyone who can get online.

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Reporter for the Missoulian