Voters in 4 Other States OK Campaign Finance Reform


Voters in four other states joined California on Tuesday in approving ballot initiatives to reform state campaign finance law--a hot topic during the just-ended campaign and one gaining momentum in the wake of the unfolding furor over questionable contributions received by the Democratic National Committee.

Arkansas, Colorado, Maine and Nevada all adopted campaign finance reform measures, most of which would limit the amount of contributions to and the spending allowed for political campaigns. The California initiative that passed--Proposition 208--takes a similar approach.

One of the most far-reaching reform measures was Colorado's Amendment 15, which reduces the amount of money, goods and services that a person may contribute to a political campaign.

For instance, an individual is limited to $1,000 in contributions per election cycle to a candidate for governor and to a political action committee. For a candidate for the state Senate, the limit on individual contributions is $200.

The measure also asks candidates to embrace voluntary spending limits--$2 million in a gubernatorial race, for instance. Compliance or noncompliance would be prominently featured in campaign materials.

On a host of other issues, ranging from legalization of gambling, term limits and various environmental issues, voters around the country delivered mixed verdicts.

On gambling, Michigan voters approved a plan to allow casinos in Detroit and rejected a ban on bingo as a political fund-raising tool. In a second closely watched measure, Ohio voters rejected riverboat casinos.

In Louisiana, a state that has become a gamblers' mecca even as scandals have riddled the industry, voters had the option of kicking out gambling on a parish-by-parish basis. They split their decision: Six parishes with riverboat gambling kept it, 23 decided to allow it and 14 voted to keep it out; 30 parishes held on to video poker and 34 rejected it.

Elsewhere, Arizona permitted more Indian casinos but Arkansas rejected a state lottery. Colorado rejected gambling in the city of Trinidad; Nebraska rejected a constitutional amendment allowing off-track betting; Washington state rejected allowing up to 500 slot machines at Indian casinos.

Ballot initiatives on term limits for officeholders were before voters in more than a dozen states. Most of the measures, drawn after the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that term limits for federal offices could be set only by a constitutional amendment, sought to have the positions of candidates on the issue disclosed on the ballot when they run for office.

States that approved such term-limit measures were Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada and South Dakota. Voters rejected similar initiatives in Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

On environmental issues, voters in Florida rejected a proposed 1-cent-per pound tax on sugar growers that would have used the money to help restore the Everglades.

In Maine, a proposed ban on clear-cutting on 10 million acres of the state's northern forests failed after the most expensive referendum in state history. Among the opponents were the paper industry--which spent more than $5 million to defeat it--and Gov. Angus King, who warned the plan could cost more than 15,000 jobs.

Idaho voters rejected an attempt to nullify a state-federal government agreement to dump high-level nuclear wastes in the state.

On hunting-related issues, Alabama voted to amend its Constitution making hunting a protected right, while in Alaska voters approved an initiative that bans hunters from tracking wolves and other predators by airplane and then landing and shooting them the same day.

Elsewhere, Colorado banned the use of leg-hold traps; Idaho rejected a ban on black-bear hunting in the spring and a ban on bear hunting with bait or dogs; Michigan rejected a ban on bear hunting with bait or dogs; Oregon upheld a ban on hunting bears and cougars with bait or dogs; Washington state banned such hunting techniques.

On other high-profile ballot initiatives, voters in Colorado maintained property-tax exemptions for churches and other nonprofit organizations while rejecting a proposed constitutional amendment that would have given parents the right to "direct and control the upbringing, educational, values and discipline of their children."

Voters in Oregon more than doubled taxes on cigarettes, with the revenue earmarked to fund health care programs for the uninsured.

And in Florida, voters amended their Constitution to require a two-thirds "super majority" before new taxes may be imposed.

Times staff writer Tony Perry contributed to this story.

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