Pennsylvania becomes fourth legislature this year to consider public financing of judicial races

I noted last month that legislatures in Kentucky, Ohio, and Wisconsin were considering establishing (or, in the case of Wisconsin, reestablishing) public financing of at least some judicial races. Now, Pennsylvania joins the list of states considering such a move.

Under HB 2193, introduced earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Fair Campaign Fund would be created to publicly finance races for the state’s appellate courts (Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth). Funds would come from a) $3 tax return check offs, b) a fee up to $50 on attorneys and c) if the other two sources are insufficient, general revenue funds. Candidates who collect $45,000, of which 350 contributions must be in amounts of at least $10, would be eligible for funding up to $100,000 for primaries and $200,000 for general elections (whether head-to-head partisan or retention elections). Additional “rescue” funds would be made available if a third party attacks the candidate.

The bill is currently pending in the Pennsylvania House State Government committee.

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