Newsletter #1

Open Democracy Action Legislative Update January 13, 2017

Welcome to the first of Open Democracy Action's 2017 Legislative Updates. We promise to keep them short and sweet, concentrating on the progress of key bills involving campaign finance and closely related issues. The newsletter is a work in progress, of course, and we welcome your critique and suggestions for improvement. First point of contact is Olivia Zink: Email, Office: 715-8197, Cell: 661-8621.

What happened the week of January 9

The Reform Caucus met for the first time on Wednesday. Turnout was exceptional⎯free lunch helped to be sure⎯and the discussion was lively. After introductions, Rick Bourdon, ODA co-chair, went through the list of 2017 bills that are of particular interest to Open Democracy. (The list is appended to this email.) He stressed that while ODA understands the importance of the many bills related to voter rights and access, the group's focus is in the campaign finance arena and it simply doesn't have the capacity to track voter bills. Devon Chaffee of ACLU spoke of that organization's efforts in this area. Our sincere thanks to all who attended and especially to those who filled out contact and interest forms.

Coming up the week of January 16

Hearings for four priority bills are scheduled for this week. (Note: We are in the process of developing briefs and talking points for each bill. Please bear with us.)

Tuesday, January 17

SENATE Election Law and Internal Affairs

SB 33  clarifying the definition of "political advocacy organization." This bill fixes the loophole that has allowed independent spending groups to avoid registering with the Secretary of State and filing expenditure reports. Prime sponsor: Sen. Bradley.

9:15 LOB 102. This is the second of two hearings beginning at 9:00. Executive session may follow.

Wednesday, January 18

HOUSE Election Law

HB 203-FN-A  establishing an independent redistricting commission to draw unbiased election district boundaries for all state and federal offices. Prime sponsor: Rep. Cote, Hills. 31.

1:00 LOB 308. This is the sixth of seven hearings beginning at 10:00. Executive session may be held throughout the day, time permitting.

HB 116  requiring legislative hearings to assess the consequences of the Citizens United decision and evaluate proposals to amend the U.S. Constitution in the wake of that ruling. The bill also calls upon New Hampshire's congressional delegation to support such an amendment. Prime sponsor: Rep. Elliot, Rock. 8.

1:20 LOB 308. This is the last of seven hearings beginning at 10:00. Executive session may be held throughout the day, time permitting.

Thursday, January 19

HOUSE State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs

HR 7  calling on the United States Senate and House of Representatives to consider a constitutional amendment prohibiting campaign contributions unless the donor is eligible to vote in that federal election. Prime Sponsor: Rep. McConnell, Ches. 12. Representative McConnell's FAQs.

11:30 LOB 206. This is the fourth of five hearings beginning at 10:00. Executive session may be held throughout the day, time permitting.

2017 Priority Reform Bills and LSRs

ODA top priorities

HB 203-FN-A  establishing an independent redistricting commission to draw unbiased election district boundaries for all state and federal offices. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Cote, Hills. 31.

HB 519  establishing a bipartisan commission to study the feasibility of implementing a clearinghouse model for tracking political expenditures and contributions. With a clearinghouse model, campaign donations and expenditures are recorded in real time (as they occur). The model also eliminates the need for candidates to report campaign receipts and expenditures to the Secretary of State. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Higgins, Graf. 12.

HB 533  clarifying the definition of "political advocacy organization." This bill fixes the loophole that has allowed independent spending groups to avoid registering with the Secretary of State and filing expenditure reports. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Smith, Straf. 6.

HB 537   relative to campaign donation limits. This bill fixes the loophole that allows candidates to accept donations of up to $5,000 before they publically declare for office. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Porter, Hills. 1.

SB 33  clarifying the definition of "political advocacy organization." Senate version of  HB 533 (see above). Committee: Election Law and Internal Affairs. Prime sponsor: Sen. Bradley.

2017 0974 (SB) calling for an appropriation to the Department of Justice to enforce election and lobbying laws. Prime sponsor: Sen. Feltes.

Other bills and LSRs of interest

HB 116  requiring legislative hearings to assess the consequences of the Citizens United decision and evaluate proposals to amend the U.S. Constitution in the wake of that ruling. The bill also calls upon New Hampshire's congressional delegation to support such an amendment. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Elliot, Rock. 8.

HB 320  calling for use of a computer model to draw unbiased state and federal election district boundaries. Redistricting criteria would be limited to district population size and compactness while respecting existing town and ward boundaries. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Knirk, Carr. 3.

HR 7  calling on the United States Senate and House of Representatives to consider a constitutional amendment prohibiting campaign contributions unless the donor is eligible to vote in that federal election. Committee: State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs. Prime Sponsor: Rep. McConnell, Ches. 12.

2017 0489 (SB) establishing an independent redistricting commission. This bill may be⎯we haven't seen language yet⎯a Senate version of HB 203 (see above). Prime sponsor: Sen. Lasky.

2017 0977 (SB) relative to political contributions made by limited liability companies. This bill would prevent campaigns from accepting donations from sham LLCs. Prime Sponsor: Sen. Feltes.

Contact ODA

Open Democracy Action: 4 Park Street Suite 301, Concord, NH 03301;

Office: (603) 715-8197

Olivia Zink: olivia@opendemocracy.me; (603) 661-8621 (cell)

Gordon Allen: wgordonallen@gmail.com; (603) 588-2742

Rick Bourdon: rick.bourdon@gmail.com; (603) 795-2818; (603) 759-1888 (cell)


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  • published this page in State House 2017-03-24 17:26:20 -0400