Reform Caucus Legislative Update

#4, January 20, 2018

It's all continuing to happen fast. 

What you need to know in a nutshell (Details follow.)

(1) Hearings. SB 440 (civil penalties for campaign law violations) and HB 1540-FN (ranked-choice voting) will be heard this week.

(2) Request of activists. We need phone calls in support of HB 1773-FN-A (civic dollars) and HB 1667-FN (donations from businesses/disclosure of top donors) ASAP. These two bills are at risk of being voted on soon. If you can, show your support at House Election Law Committee meetings this week please email [email protected]

(3) Request of legislators and activists. We at ODA want to expand our mailing list and increase the size and bipartisan composition of our Reform Caucus. If you know of potentially interested legislators and(or) activists who are unaware of ODA (i.e., aren't getting updates like this one), please provide us with names.

The details

(1) Hearing schedule (Details of individual bills follow.)

Tuesday, January 23

Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs, Room 102 LOB

9 AM SB 440 (civil penalties for campaign law violations) was supposed to have been heard last week but time ran out.

House Election Law, Room 308 LOB

1 PM HB 1540-FN (ranked-choice voting) didn't make the ODA shortlist this session, but ranked-choice voting is an interesting concept which certainly deserves our attention.

(2) Executive sessions (week of February 22-26)

Executive sessions, times when a committee discusses and(or) votes on bills, can happen any time the committee meets. All our priority House bills were heard last week, so potentially any one of them could come up for a vote this week. Bills with fiscal notes such as HB 1773-FN-A (civic dollars) and HB 1667-FN (donations from businesses/disclosure of top donors) are at particular risk because the deadline for them to be reported out of committee is February 1. In our experience, having supporters of a bill in the committee room when a vote is taken has an effect on the outcome, so if you possibly can, attend committee meetings and show your support.

House Election Law meets Tuesday and Thursday this week beginning at 10 AM in room 308 LOB. House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs (home of HB 1524 (Citizens United and redistricting amendment)) meets Wednesday and Thursday this week beginning at 10 AM in room 206 LOB.

Looking Back

HB 1773 (civic dollars), HB 1368 (LLC loophole), HB 1667 (donations from businesses/disclosure of top donors), HB 1524 (Citizens United and redistricting amendment), and HB 1666 (redistricting) were all heard in committee last week. We had a great turnout for Lobby Day on Tuesday, packing the room for the Election Law hearing on HB 1773 (civic dollars). We heard excellent testimony from prime sponsor Renny Cushing, Brad Cook, Rick Bourdon, John Rauh, Jim Rubens, Dan Weeks, and Joe Magruder. A good start for this very important bill.

Looking ahead

The next scheduled general session of the House will be Wednesday, February 7, possibly carrying over to Thursday, February 8. The next general session of the Senate is scheduled for Thursday, February 1. 

Priority bills supported by ODA

ODA top priorities

HB 1773-FN-A provides voters with four $25 "civic dollar" certificates to donate to candidates who qualify by limiting their maximum donation from private donors to $500, $250, and $200 for candidates for Governor, Executive Council, and Senate, respectively. 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-FN 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-FN 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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