Yesterday, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that would modify Wisconsin’s ban on corporate expenditures and double the state’s political contribution limits. In response to Citizens United, the bill lifts Wisconsin’s blanket prohibition on corporate expenditures. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would permit corporate independent expenditures and corporate contributions to independent expenditure committees. Corporations would also be permitted to give funds to political parties to buy or rent office space for the party.
Under the revised contribution limits, donors could give candidates for Governor up to $20,000, for Senate $2,000, and State Representative $1,000 per election cycle. The state’s aggregate contribution limit, which a Wisconsin resident is currently challenging the constitutionally of, would also be doubled. These limits would be adjusted for inflation every two years. Other provisions in the bill would expand the window when lobbyists are permitted to make political contributions and require both lobbyists and lawmakers to complete four hours of ethics training.
The Assembly passed this bill on a voice vote with almost no debate and prospects for passage in the Senate are unclear. We will continue to monitor the progress of this bill.