Frist looks to improve campaign finance legislation

Megan R. Harrell

Star Staff

   Campaign finance reform has been the topic of choice in Washington this week. The House passed legislation that would ban millions of dollars political parties benefit from. Sen. Bill Frist has high hopes that the Senate will be able to improve the bill on the floor.
   Sen. Tom Daschle is expected to bring the latest Campaign Finance Reform Bill to the floor, where senators hope to fine tune it. "There are issues of constitutionality that I feel must be addressed," Sen. Frist said. "I hope that the reform will improve current campaign financing and that we will not increase the financing of special interest groups."
   The Campaign Finance reform is aimed at eliminating all non-federal financial support of political parties. If the Senate does not pass the bill it will be sent to special committee. Sen. Frist believes the reform bill may be signed into legislation soon. "I hope to see the Senate take the bill to conference committee and discuss the constitutional issues, but I do think that a reform bill will be passed and signed by the president this year," Sen. Frist said.
   Senators Frist and Chris Dodd have recently introduced a bill on organ donation. The bill proposes an enhancement in public awareness and education. It would improve coordination and would establish demonstration projects. "It is important because in past experience nothing is more tragic than a person dying that would have lived if the organ was available," Sen. Frist said.
   Sen. Frist is encouraging a reduction of financial barriers for the families of organ donors. He stated that many times the family faces additional charges and the bill proposes a method of reimbursing the costs.
   Sen. Frist continues his support of government's commitment to combat bioterrorism. Secretary Tommy Thompson recently testified before the Senate Finance Committee as to what he thinks need to be done to reduce the country's vulnerabilities.
   Sec. Thompson stated that the government must continue to increase the funding for bioterrorism in order to beef up responded to potential terrorist attacks. Sen. Frist noted that the Bush administration has already increased the bioterrorism budget five times from its previous budget. The president has proposed an increase in 2003 four times that in 2002.
   Bioterrorism funding for local health departments, hospitals, and training should arrive in Carter County soon. "I have thought for a while now that more than one billion in funding should go to state and local preparedness," Sen. Frist said. "I was pleased to see that 20 percent of the bill that was passed in mid-December has already been released." The funding should trickle down to Eastern Tennessee soon.
   The funding for health care and training will be administered directly through the state and public health agencies. Affiliates with health care centers and hospitals across the area will be responsible for dispersing and monitoring the grant funds.