Reform Caucus Legislative Update

#1, January 2, 2018

What you need to know.

Two critical items are on the agenda in this first week of the legislative session: 

(1) 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. 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. The bill will reach the House floor late on this week's calendar, hopefully Thursday, January 4, possibly Tuesday, January 9. We urge House members to support full disclosure by voting NO on interim study and YES on ought to pass. And we urge citizens to contact their representatives on this issue.

(2) HB 372. Another 2017 holdover, HB 372 as amended would bar out-of-state college students and others with “temporary” residency in the state from voting here. The bill may reach the Senate floor as early as Wednesday, January 3, or if not, then Thursday. We urge Senators to support voting rights by voting NO on ought to pass and YES on inexpedient to legislate. And we urge citizens to contact their senators on this issue.

Mark your calendar (at least tentatively): Free food at a start-of-the-session luncheon meeting of the Reform Caucus that ODA initiated last year. We'll talk about priority bills for 2018 with special emphasis on HB 1773, Open Democracy and Representative Cushing's revolutionary proposal for citizen-funded elections. If you are sponsoring other relevant legislation (see ODA priority bills below) and are willing to supply one-pager(s) for distribution at the luncheon, please contact Olivia at the address or phone number below.
When: Noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, January 10.
Where: New England College, 62 North Main St., Concord. (As of this writing, we haven't confirmed the NEC location, so place and date are not firm. We'll update you as soon as they are.)

Priority bills supported by ODA

HB 1773 provides voters with four $25 "civic dollars" 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: [email protected]; (603) 661-8621 (cell)
Gordon Allen: [email protected]; (603) 588-2742
Rick Bourdon: [email protected]; (603) 795-2818; (603) 759-1888 (cell)

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  • Steve Varnum
    published this page in State House 2018-01-02 21:18:16 -0500