Reform Caucus Legislative Update

#5, January 26, 2018

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

(1) Executive session. HB 1773 (civic dollars) will come up for a vote in the House Election Law Committee next Tuesday, Jan. 30. This top priority bill would authorize citizen-funded elections in New Hampshire. We urge activists to contact Committee members before Tuesday and ask for their support. Links to contact information at House Election Law. Links to supporting documents at ODA State House Page.

(2) 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) Executive sessions (Week of Jan. 29 to Feb. 2. Details of individual bills follow.)

Executive sessions, times when a committee discusses and(or) votes on bills, can happen any time the committee meets. All our priority House bills have been heard, so potentially any one of them could come up for a vote this week. The executive session for HB 1773 (civic dollars) has been scheduled for Tuesday. Other bills with fiscal notes such HB 1667 (donations from businesses/disclosure of top donors) and HB 1540 (ranked-choice voting) are likely to be "execed" soon. Phone calls and emails to committee members are greatly appreciated. See below for links to contact information for committee members and supporting documents for each bill. And, if you possibly can, attend committee meetings and show your support. In our experience, having supporters of a bill in the committee room when a vote is taken has a measurable effect on the outcome.

Tuesday, Jan. 30

House Election Law, Room 308 LOB

1 PM  HB 1773 (civic dollars) comes up for a vote in committee. This top priority bill would authorize citizen-funded elections in New Hampshire. We urge activists to contact Committee members before Tuesday and call for their support. Calls from constituents are especially effective. Links to contact information at House Election Law. Links to supporting documents at ODA State House Page.

Other bills that may come up for a vote in House Election Law on Tuesday: HB 1667 (donations from businesses/disclosure of top donors) and HB 1540 (ranked-choice voting).

Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs, Room 102 LOB

9 AM Possible committee vote on SB 440 (civil penalties for campaign law violations).

Wednesday, Jan. 31

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

10 AM Possible committee vote on HB 1524 (Citizens United and redistricting amendment).

Looking ahead

Wednesday, Feb. 7 (probably)

House floor

The full House will vote on 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. 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.

Looking back

Tuesday, Jan. 23

Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs, Room 102 LOB

Hearing for SB 440 (civil penalties for violation of campaign finance laws). The Committee heard from Prime Sponsor Sen. Lasky and Open Democracy's Olivia Zink. No testimony from opponents of the bill was given. See SB 440 Hearing Transcript for details.

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 $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: House 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: House 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: House 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: House 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: House Election Law. Prime sponsor: Rep. Read.

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

Links to contact information for key committee members

House Election Law (for most ODA priority bills)

House State-Federal Relations & Veterans Affairs (HB 1524)

Senate Election Law & Internal Affairs (SB 440)

Full House Roster

Full Senate Roster

Link to supporting documents for specific bills

ODA State House Page

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) 


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