Reform Caucus Legislative Update

#9, February 23, 2018

What you need to know in a nutshell 

As the result of actions taken on Feb. 22 and previously (see Bill Summary below):

All our bills have had their first hearings and executive sessions, so there will be no more hearings and executive sessions before Crossover. At this point it looks like all the remaining House bills will be scheduled for floor votes on March 6, although the February 23 Calendar did not include the March 6 Agenda. 

HB 1524, HB 1773, and SB 440 are officially dead for the session, having been voted down by the full House and Senate. 

HB 1540, HB 1666, HB 1667 were voted Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) out of the House Election Law Committee on Feb. 13 and put on the Consent Calendar.No floor date yet, but likely March 6.

HB 1368 was voted ITL out of Election Law on the Feb. 13 on a party line vote and will be on the Regular Calendar, likely on the floor on March 6

SB 33 remains on the Table after the House voted on Feb. 15 to Table it. No word yet on whether or when there will be a motion to take it off.

What happened last week

As expected, not a busy week, the only action being on HB 1524.

HB 1524 (calls on Congress for a constitutional amendment requiring Congress and State Legislatures to regulate money in politics to prevent corruption and prohibit partisan gerrymandering) was voted down 185-138 in the House on Feb. 22.  This received a lot of attention from national reform groups.

Bill Status Summary

HB 1368 (closes LLC loophole): ITL House Election Law 11-9, 2/13/15

HB 1524 (constitutional amendment): ITL House, 185-138, 2/22/18

HB 1540 (ranked-choice voting): ITL House Election Law, 19-1, 2/13/18

HB 1666 (redistricting reform):  ITL Election Law 20-0, 2/13/18 on Consent

HB 1667 (bans unlimited corp. donations): ITL Election Law 20-0, 2/13/18 on Consent

HB 1773 ** (civic-dollar election option): ITL House 214-135, 2/8/18

SB 33** (closes disclosure loophole): Tabled House 162-155, 2/15/18

SB 363 (bans foreign donations): OTP passed Full Senate 24-0, 2/15/18

SB 440  (raises penalties on finance violations): Killed with Interim Study, Senate VV, 2/15/18

** Top priorities with votes by the full body in bold.

Summary of 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 1540 institutes ranked-choice voting in races for N.H. House and Senate, governor, Executive Council, US House, and US Senate. Ranked choice allows voters to vote for candidates by order of preference. It results in representation substantially closer to the proportion of Democratic, Republican, and third-party voters in a district than does the current winner-take-all system. More complete explanation at Fairvote. Committee: House Election Law. 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: [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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