Candidates for school board positions in Kansas might have to follow the same campaign finance reporting rules as candidates for other offices, if state Sen. Tom Hawk’s bill is approved.
At a Senate ethics and elections committee hearing Thursday, Hawk — the Democratic senator for the 22nd District, which includes Manhattan — pushed to amend legislation on campaign finance reporting. Candidates for school boards in districts with fewer than 35,000 students don’t have to disclose their campaign contributions until Dec. 31, after their respective elections, unlike candidates for other offices.
Hawk’s bill would require any community college trustee candidates and board candidates in school districts with more than 5,000 students to file campaign finance reports and likely would require those candidates to follow the same deadlines and procedures as candidates for other local offices. That includes a $500 limit on individual or organization donations to campaigns.
The state division of budgeting estimates that Hawk’s bill, if passed by the Senate, would require new reports from 275 potential school board candidates from 23 school districts, including the Manhattan-Ogden and Geary County school districts, as well as 216 potential trustee candidates for the state’s 19 community colleges.
That would require $52,100 in new salary costs for an additional campaign finance coordinator position to review and process the additional reports, as well as $5,556 in indirect costs.
Hawk said he was inspired to write the bill after a Mercury editorial in August criticizes inconsistency in campaign finance reporting regulations. He shared the editorial with other senators in the committee Thursday.