Reform Caucus Legislative Newsletter

#3 January 12, 2018

It's all happening fast. 

What you need to know in a nutshell (details follow)

(1) Hearings. In three days this coming week, January 16-18, there will be hearings on all six ODA priority bills that are new this year. Tuesday will see the most activity, with hearings for SB 440 (civil penalties for campaign law violations), HB 1773 (civic dollars), HB 1368 (LLC loophole) and HB 1667 (donations from businesses/disclosure of top donors). Wednesday: HB 1524 (Citizens United and redistricting amendment). Thursday: HB 1666 (redistricting).

(2) Action. Tuesday is Lobby Day. We strongly encourage activists to show up and support ODA priority bills.

The Details

(1) Hearing Schedule (Details of individual bills follow)

Tuesday, January 16

Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs, Room 102 LOB

9:40 AM SB 440 (civil penalties for campaign law violations)

Tuesday, January 16

House Election Law, Room 308 LOB

10:50 AM HB 1773 (civic dollars)

11:30 AM HB 1368 (LLC loophole)

12:00 PM HB 1667 (donations from businesses/disclosure of top donors)

Wednesday, January 17

House State-Federal Relations & Veterans Affairs, Room 206 LOB

10:00 AM HB 1524 (Citizens United and redistricting amendment)

Thursday, January 18

House Election Law, Room 308 LOB

10:00 AM HB 1666 (redistricting)

(2) Action

Tuesday, January 16

Please join us for Lobby Day. We will meet at 4 Park St. Suite 304 at 10:00 AM for coffee, bagels and discussion of the bills we are promoting that are being heard that day. We will have fact sheets, talking points and other literature. We'll then head over to the Legislative Office Building to sign up in support of key bills and make our presence known.

To be effective we need a large showing of people at the hearings. Afterward we'll return to 4 Park for lunch. Please RSVP to doreen@opendemocracy.me if you can make it. When: Tuesday, January 16, 10 AM. Where: 4 Park St. Suite 304 (at the corner of Park and Main, just east of the Capitol) and room 308 in the Legislative Office Building (LOB).

Looking Back (and ahead)

SB 33. This holdover from 2017 closes the loophole that allows independent spending groups to avoid registering with the Secretary of State and filing expenditure reports. It was scheduled to be voted on by the full House on January 9, but time ran out. It will be up for a vote at the next general session of the House. That is listed as "call of the chair," most likely February 7 or 8. 

Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, the bill was retained in House Election Law. In November, committee members deadlocked 10-10, which would have sent the bill to the floor with no recommendation. Later, upon reconsideration, they opted for interim study, a recommendation that would delay action until after the 2018 election.

Some supporters of interim study worry that the bill casts too wide a net, requiring, for example, the League of Women Voters to register and file spending reports in order to put out voter guides. In fact, however, the bill only affects organizations making "expenditures," which are defined in NH election law as funds used to support the success or defeat of a candidate or candidates. The League and similar groups would not be affected.

We believe the bill's language is rock solid as is and requires no further study. It should be implemented right away so that we don't go through another election cycle without a full accounting of electioneering spending. At the next general session we urge House members to support full disclosure by voting NO on interim study and YES on ought to pass. In the meanwhile we urge citizens to contact their representatives on this issue.

Priority bills supported by ODA

HB 1773 provides voters with four $25 "civic dollar" certificates to donate to candidates who qualify by limiting their maximum donation from private donors to $250. The bill also includes other reforms, e.g., stronger requirements to ensure the "independence" of SuperPACs and candidate campaigns, and a new campaign finance enforcement structure. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Cushing.

SB 33 closes the loophole that allows independent spending groups to avoid registering with the Secretary of State and filing expenditure reports. The 2017 bill was passed by the Senate, retained in House Election Law, and recommended for interim study, which would effectively delay action until after the 2018 election. Prime sponsor: Sen. Bradley.

Other bills of particular interest

HB 1368 closes the loophole allowing a donor to create multiple Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) to get around campaign contribution limits. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Porter.

HB 1524 calls on the NH Legislature to support an amendment to the US Constitution allowing regulation of money in politics and prohibiting partisan advantage as a factor in drawing voting district boundaries. Committee: State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs. Prime sponsor: Rep. Read.

HB 1666 requires redistricting to be repeated after analysis of election results reveals partisan bias as measured by an "efficiency gap" exceeding 8%. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Knirk.

HB 1667 prohibits businesses and unions from contributing directly to candidate campaigns except through "segregated funds," i.e., corporate and union PACs. The bill fixes language found unconstitutional in a 1999 court case, a decision that, in effect, legalized direct contributions from corporate treasuries. HB 1667 also requires political committees to list their top five natural-person donors in electioneering communications. Committee: Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Read.

SB 440 provides civil penalties for violation of the law pertaining to campaign contributions. Committee: Election Law and Internal Affairs. Prime sponsor: Sen. Lasky.

To 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) 


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.