By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — A bill that would allow public financing of state supreme court races narrowly passed the House on Monday.
House Bill 31 passed the House 48-46 with six members not voting. Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, and sponsor of HB 31, said that he was happy after Monday’s vote that the measure made it through the Democratic-controlled House this year. But said that it’s unlikely that the measure will get a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate with so few days remaining the 30-day legislative session.
House Bill 31 allows a candidate seeking a state supreme court seat to receive $25 contributions from 200 individuals and an additional $5,000 through traditional fundraising. A candidate who reaches that $10,000 threshold would then be eligible to receive public financing, Wayne said. Money for public financing would come from direct contributions to the public judicial financing fund, a check-off box on income tax forms or through contributions collected through Kentucky Bar Association fees.
North Carolina has a similar system for public financing of state supreme court races. Connecticut has public financing for all elected offices, Wayne said.
The bill would ensure that Kentucky has qualified judicial candidates “that are not beholden to anyone,” Wayne said.