AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A legislative committee is taking up bills that would restrict distributions of taxpayer-financed campaign funds.

The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee opened hearings on the two proposals Wednesday. Republican Rep. Gary Knight, of Livermore Falls, is sponsor of a bill to bar distribution of Maine Clean Election Act funds to candidates in uncontested legislative or gubernatorial primary elections.

Knight told the committee that $500 distributions give uncontested candidates an unfair advantage over their general election rivals. But Alison Smith, of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, who opposes the bill, said it would deny some primary candidates a chance to make themselves known to candidates through relatively small disbursements.

The other bill would create new limits on Clean Election Act funding for independent or those with no party affiliation.

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