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Lacking supermajority, state senator offers finance bill concessions

SACRAMENTO -- Three weeks after Republicans blocked a measure that would curb anonymous political donations, state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) said Thursday he would amend the bill to address concerns of GOP lawmakers.

The change is necessary after Democrats lost a supermajority last month that had allowed them to pass such bills without Republican support. The supermajority was lost when Sen. Ronald Calderon (D-Montebello) took a leave of absence to fight corruption charges. Since then, Calderon and Democratic Sens. Roderick Wright of Baldwin Hills and Leland Yee of San Francisco have been suspended over criminal charges.

The suspensions will force Democratic lawmakers to make concessions to their Republican colleagues, as Correa is doing, if they want approval of bills requiring a two-thirds vote.

On Thursday, Correa had SB 27 sent back to the state Assembly, where he will change it to clarify that contributions made before July 1 are exempt from the new disclosure rules.

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar had led a united GOP vote against the bill, saying it was unfair to people making donations now for this year’s elections to be confronted with new rules.

“This [amendment] addresses the concerns raised by Sen. Huff on the Senate floor and he has pledged support if amended,” said Damon Conklin, a spokesman for Correa.

A spokesman for Huff said he had not made a final decision on the bill and wants to review the new language first.

The bill was introduced after a web of out-of-state nonprofit groups poured $15 million into the state to fight Gov. Jerry Brown's tax hike and to support an unsuccessful measure to curtail unions' political power.

The measure would require an organization to provide information about its donors if it spends or contributes at least $50,000 in one year or a total of more than $100,000 in four consecutive years. Correa’s bill would also require committees on ballot measures, if they raise at least $1 million, to maintain a public list of the top 10 contributors who gave $10,000 or more.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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