A law that would prohibit candidates for the state legislature and statewide office from raising money during a regular legislative session has been put on hold. Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan has issued a temporary restraining order on the prohibition which the legislature approved last year. Callahan relies on a federal court ruling in reaching his decision. Federal District Judge Stephen Limbaugh struck down a similar law passed in 1994, finding the law overly broad and in violation of the first amendment rights of free speech and association. Callahan notes in his order that it is puzzling that the General Assembly made no effort to correct the deficiencies identified by Judge Limbaugh in Shrink Missouri Government PAC v. Maupin. In that case, Judge Limbaugh found that the ban as applied to state-wide elected officials and non-incumbent candidates for the legislature was not sufficiently narrowed to address the state’s claimed interest in regulating the appearance of impropriety from contributions made to legislators during a legislative session. Callahan points out that similar campaign contribution bans during legislative sessions have been struck down as unconstitutional in other states. Callahan writes in the order that a North Carolina ban narrowly tailored to contributions from lobbyists to legislators during the legislative session was upheld. Callahan has ordered a hearing on his order for early March.
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