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Published: Thursday, 4/21/2005

Ohio House votes to close hole in state's campaign-finance law


COLUMBUS - Lawmakers moved quickly yesterday to plug a hole in Ohio campaign-finance law created by a recent court decision at least temporarily shelving part of a new law prohibiting unions from making campaign contributions with members' dues.

The House voted unanimously to send the bill to Gov. Bob Taft. It would allow contributions from union dues but cap them at $10,000 - as are contributions from corporation-linked political action committees.

But before supporting the move, Democrats considered denying majority Republicans the supermajority vote needed to add an emergency clause so that it could go into effect immediately upon receiving the governor's signature instead of waiting the usual 90 days.

"You're saying it's OK for certain groups to participate in the political process in the state of Ohio in an unregulated fashion [for 90 days]," said Rep. Kevin DeWine (R., Fairborn). "That's not what campaign-finance reform is all about."

Minority Leader Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island) said Democrats support the bill, but questioned the need for an emergency clause.

With Democrats outnumbered 60-39 in the chamber, a supermajority vote is one of the few times the minority party can flex its muscles in the chamber.

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