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Oregon voters may get new chance to clamp down on money flowing to politicians

SALEM — Two constitutional amendments next year could bring the most dramatic changes in a generation to how Oregon conducts its elections.

But first, they have to pass through the Legislature.

The pathway for campaign finance reform looked relatively smooth until it hit a bump Wednesday. The Senate Campaign Finance Committee approved one proposal that would ask voters whether they want to limit campaign contributions in Oregon's state and local elections. It did so without the support of the committee's two Republican senators — including the legislation's co-sponsor, Sen. Tim Knopp of Bend.

Because of an Oregon Supreme Court decision in 1997, Oregon is one of a handful of states that does not limit campaign contributions. The Supreme Court ruled that Oregon's constitutional right to free speech protects campaign donations and spending, effectively allowing a donor to plough . . .