January 4, 2019
The NH House and Senate may be more favorable in the 2019 session to restoring voting rights, fair redistricting and getting money's influence out of politics. But there will likely be resistance at the executive branch to bills which empower the voters and challenge special interests. The New Hampshire Democracy Report will be following democracy bills in the NH House and Senate, as well as proposed changes to the NH Constitution regarding Citizens United and a nonpartisan redistricting commission.
Not all bills have been assigned numbers yet, particularly Senate bills, but we anticipate having a more complete listing of bills in the coming week. In the meantime, here are some of this week's hearings in Concord.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND VOTES
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9
SENATE ELECTION LAW AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS, Room 102, LOB
10:00 a.m. Secretary of State’s Office
10:15 a.m. The Association of Counties
10:30 a.m. NH Municipal Association
THURSDAY, JANUARY 10
HOUSE ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. HB 345, relative to certification of devices for the electronic counting of ballots. This bill asks the Ballot Law Commission to examine voting machines upon request or a minimum of every five years to insure election integrity. Supported by Open Democracy Action
10:30 a.m. HB 152, increasing the threshold for reporting by political committees. HB 152 is attempting to raise the limit at which a donation must be disclosed by a political committee to the NH Secretary of State's office from $25.00 to $100. In our opinion, this makes campaign funding less transparent. Opposed by ODA
10:45 a.m. HB 297, relative to political advertisements on behalf of political committees or advocacy organizations. This bill patches an existing RSA by requiring the advertiser's name on the sign or flyer to the same one on file with the SOS's office. Supported by ODA
1:00 p.m. HB 106, relative to the terms “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency.”
1:30 p.m. HB 105-FN, relative to domicile residency, voter registration, and investigation of voter verification letters. HB 105 is an attempt to reform last year's vote-stifling HB 372, which put layers of requirements for medium-term residents in order to vote, particularly for students and military personnel. Supported by ODA and NH Campaign for Voting Rights (NHCVR)
TUESDAY, JANUARY 15
HOUSE ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. CACR 5, relating to the right to vote. Providing that 17-year-olds who will be eligible to vote in the general election be permitted to vote on that election’s primary election.
10:30 a.m. HB 242, relative to special elections.
11:00 a.m. HB 315, repealing the authority to share voter information or data with other sites.
1:00 p.m. HB 202, relative to requirements for presidential primary candidates. HB 202 would require all U.S. Presidential candidates competing in the NH Primary to disclose 5 years of Federal Tax Returns to be on the ballot.
1:30 p.m. HB 147, relative to appeals from recounts.
2:00 p.m. CACR 6, relating to elections. Providing that any inhabitant who so desires may vote by absentee ballot in primary and general elections. NH currently has strict rules as to who may, and may not, vote via absentee ballot. This bill relaxes those rules.
LEGISLATION WE'RE WATCHING THIS TERM
Did you know that only a tiny percentage - 06% - of New Hampshire residents fund the overwhelming majority of campaign funding? That money buys influence for a small number of people, and the special interests behind them.
But take heart! ODA anticipates a bill this session from the Senate called the “Voter-Owned Elections Act.” This public funding system uses public “Voter Dollars” to fund qualified candidates who agree to a cap of $250 donations from private donors. A revised version of last year's HB 1773, voters will be able to direct their four $25 Voter Dollars certificates to the qualified state candidates of their choice. Such a system reduces the influence of affluent donors who may or may not represent special interests. We do not have a new bill number yet, but will alert you in the coming weeks. This is ODA's top priority, and we will be asking the help of democracy supporters to help educate voters and legislators.
We have learned that there are two bills headed to the NH Senate, neither of which have bill numbers yet, which address campaign reform issues. One bill attempts to close the loophole allowing a donor to create multiple Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) to get around campaign contribution limits. A second bill defines political advocacy organizations, and what spending limits they may have in state elections.
Redistricting & Ending Gerrymandering
Most activists following campaign reform issues agree: The problem of gerrymandering has the highest visibility due to cases files in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. As of last week, there is news that two of those cases will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming term. As you know, New Hampshire has numerous gerrymandered districts dating from the last redistricting in 2010.
There is one bill from the NH House which aims to create an independent redistricting commission to study and fairly draw boundaries for voting districts for state and federal elected positions. Taking that bill one step further, a constitutional amendment bill (CACR) will be also be proposed to enshrine this independent commission in the NH Constitution.
“Granny D” Haddock's Birthday Luncheon for Legislators, Jan 24
Legislators, have lunch with us and learn about publicly-funded elections! ODA supporters, invite your legislators to attend with you! We'll be honoring Open Democracy founder, Doris “Granny D” Haddock's legacy by bringing legislators up to date on proposed democracy legislation this term, and introducing the Voter Dollars bill, which helps keeps power in the hands of the voters. The event will be held on Thursday, January 24 at St. Paul's Church. The lunch is free and will start immediately following the lunch recess.
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