By Bob Katzen

The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would allow a candidate for public office to use campaign funds for childcare while the candidate is campaigning on his or her own behalf or attending events directly related to his or her campaign.

The bill prohibits payments to family members, unless the relative owns, operates or is employed by a professional daycare or babysitting service and the cost of the service is not greater than the family member would otherwise charge.

Under current law, candidates are prohibited from using campaign funds for their personal use. The state’s Office of amping and Political Finance has classified childcare, while performing campaign duties, as a personal expense rather than a campaign expense.

“This bill would break down a major barrier to open elective office to people who have traditionally not had that opportunity,” said Senate sponsor Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “Many of us currently in office would not be here today if we didn’t have trusted people taking care of our kids while we knocked doors for our first campaigns. Allowing campaign finances to be used for childcare means that more people in our communities can participate than ever before and amplify the voices of those who have previously not been heard.”

“It’s exciting to see [the bill] move through the Senate,” said House sponsor Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge). “We filed this bill so that all candidates, no matter their economic or family background, can have a better opportunity to run for state or local office. Allowing candidates to use their own campaign funds for childcare will help to strengthen the diversity of the candidate pool and the representation in our elected bodies.”

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