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Monday, March 7, 2011 - 12:34pm

Utilities Move Closer To Campaign Contributions

The state Senate Ethics Committee Monday unanimously approved a bill that would allow regulated utilities to contribute to political campaigns in Georgia.

A coalition of ethics watchdogs said they were disappointed in the vote.

“[The bill increases] the influence of special interests and further drowns out the voices of those fighting for the people's interest," said William Perry of Common Cause Georgia.

Supporters said the measure is needed to give utility companies and their employees access to the political process.

Donations from utility companies would still be banned to members of the Public Service Commission, which oversees utilities.

The legislation now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, which will decide if the measure makes it to a full Senate vote. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Don Balfour, heads the Rules Committee.

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