Reform Caucus Legislative Update

#6, February 2, 2018

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

(1) House floor vote. This Wednesday, Feb. 7, the full House is scheduled to vote on HB 1773. This important bill would authorize citizen-funded elections in New Hampshire. We urge activists to contact their representatives and ask for their support. Links to contact information at  Full House RosterLinks to supporting documents at ODA State House Page. We urge legislators to request a roll call and vote NO on Inexpedient To Legislate (ITL) and YES on Ought to Pass (OTP).

(2) House floor vote. Also on Wednesday, the House will vote on SB 33, a top priority bill that closes the loophole allowing independent spending groups to avoid registering with the Secretary of State and filing expenditure reports. Activists: please contact your representative(s) on this one. Legislators: please request a roll call and vote NO on Interim Study and YES on OTP.

(3) Executive sessions. A committee vote on SB 440 (civil penalties for violation of campaign finance laws) is possible this Tuesday.

The details

(1) House floor vote

Wednesday, February 7, Representatives Hall

10 AM 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. The bill came out of committee with an ITL recommendation after a failed amendment to send it to a study committee. Opponents cited the bill's complexity and lack of a funding mechanism. Supporters felt it merited further study. We urge activists to contact their representatives and ask for their support. Links to contact information for representatives at Full House Roster. Links to supporting documents at ODA State House Page. We urge legislators to request a roll call and vote NO on ITL and YES on OTP.

(2) House floor vote

Wednesday, February 7, Representatives Hall

10 AM 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 requesting a roll call and voting NO on Interim Study and YES on OTP. And we urge citizens to contact their representatives on this issue. Links to contact information for representatives at Full House Roster. Links to supporting documents at ODA State House Page.

Note: Wednesday's House general session may spill over to Thursday. HB 1773 is listed in Part 1 of the regular calendar, SB 33 in Part 2.

(3) Executive sessions (Week of Feb. 5-9. Details of individual bills follow.)

Executive sessions, in which committees discuss and/or vote on bills, can happen any time the committee meets. 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, February 6

Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs, Room 102 LOB

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

What happened last week

HB 1773, Open Democracy's citizen-funded elections bill, was voted down in the House Election Law Committee. An amendment  to send the bill to a study committee that would meet over the summer and fall failed on a party-line vote. The motion to send the bill to the House floor with an ITL recommendation passed 16-3. Opponents cited the bill's complexity and lack of a funding mechanism. Supporters felt it merited further study. On a positive note, Republican Committee Chair Barbara Griffin volunteered to be a member of an ad hoc committee to see how HB 1773 could be improved.

Priority bills supported by ODA

ODA top priorities

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 (for HB 1524)

Senate Election Law & Internal Affairs (for 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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