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Weekly Address – February 12, 2021

From the hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.

Several bills to strengthen campaign finance laws are making their way through the legislature, including a measure I’ve sponsored.

It prohibits candidates from using campaign funds, or carryover funds, to pay fines imposed by the state Ethics Commission.

Some penalties are relatively minor, and the candidate simply committed an oversight rather than being guilty of intentionally flouting the law.

The Secretary of State publishes a guide for candidates running for elected office. On the cover it advertises that it’s in plain English, but still, it is 172 pages long.

Campaign finance law is complex. Even so, candidates must be responsible for all campaign finance matters, and the proper accounting for all expenditures and donations.

Running a political campaign is not as challenging as serving on the Quorum Court, the school board or the legislature.

We expect accountability in our elected officials, and that starts before they get elected, when they’re running for office. They should assume personal responsibility for their campaigns.

That’s why my bill has teeth in it. If a candidate uses campaign funds to pay a fine for an ethics violation, they will be deemed as having converted campaign funds to personal use, which is a serious offense.

The Senate has approved the measure and sent it to the House, where it will be taken up by the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs.

Also this past week, the Senate voted to require counties to publicly post sample ballots before elections.

The Secretary of State will also be required to post all sample ballots on its Internet site, and the site would have to make it easy for voters to find the ballot for the precinct in which they live.

The penalties for racing on public highways will be more severe, under legislation approved by the Senate.

A first offense will remain a Class A misdemeanor, but a second offense would become a Class D felony.

The Senate also passed legislation to add more penalties for sex trafficking. If someone uses a truck to commit an offense, they would no longer be able to hold a Commercial Driver’s License.

In other news, the legislature will create an oversight committee to review all aspects of the medical marijuana industry, which is a $200 million industry.

Legislators will review regulation and licensing of growers, dispensers and transporters.

From the Capitol, it is always my greatest honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Senator Keith Ingram.


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