I've had plenty of harsh things to say about House Elections Committee Chair Todd Smith this session, but he's always been one of the good guys on campaign finance reform.
Texas could start regulating how political parties use corporate and union campaign contributions under a bill the Texas House passed Friday 71 to 63.
House Bill 2511 would close what author Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, has called an "absurd" loophole that enables corporations and labor unions to escape a century-old ban against political donations by funding issue ads that stop short of urging a vote for or against a candidate.
Under the bill, donations from corporations and unions could only go toward a political party's or political action committee's administrative costs.
The Texas Pastor Council sent an email blast urging a vote against the bill.
"HB 2511 will censor free speech and drastically change how nonprofit organizations communicate with their supporters about important policy issues," the group wrote. "This very email could be ruled illegal under this proposed law, prohibiting nonprofits from highlighting elected officials and their bad votes on legislation affecting all Texans."
Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, said he head received a letter from a host of conservative groups including Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texas Eagle Forum and the Texas Alliance for Life that were worried about the bill.
"They are concerned that this will limit their ability to come out and talk about issues," King said.
UPDATE: Burka figures out the reason for the partisan split on this one.