Reform Caucus Legislative Update

#7, February 9, 2018

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

(1) House floor vote. On Thursday, Feb. 15, 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.

(2) Senate floor vote. Also scheduled for Thursday is a vote on SB 440 (civil penalties for violation of campaign finance laws). Activists: Please contact your senator about this. Senators: Please request a roll call and vote NO on Interim Study and YES on OTP.

(3) Executive sessions. On Tuesday Feb. 13, all ODA priority bills remaining in the House Election Law Committee are scheduled for executive session. These include HB 1368 (LLC loophole), HB 1540 (ranked-choice voting), HB 1666 (redistricting), and HB 1667 (corporate donation ban and top donor identification on political advertising). Activists: Please contact members of the Election Law committee and ask for their support on any of these bills.

The details

(1) House floor vote

Thursday, Feb. 15

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 by the House Election Law Committee. 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 ought to pass. 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.

(2) Senate floor vote

Thursday, Feb. 15

Senate Chamber

10 AM  SB 440 provides civil penalties for violation of the law pertaining to campaign contributions. Activists: Please ask your senator to support enforcement of campaign finance law by voting NO on Interim Study and YES on Ought To Pass.

Note: Thursday's general sessions of the House and Senate begin at 10 with an address by the Governor. Voting will follow.

(3) Executive sessions (Week of Feb. 12 to Feb. 16. Details of individual bills follow.)

Executive sessions, in which a committee discusses and(or) votes 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, Feb. 13

House Election Law, Room 308, Legislative Office Building

11 AM  The following bills are scheduled for a committee vote: HB 1368 (LLC loophole), HB 1540 (ranked-choice voting), HB 1666 (redistricting), and HB 1667 (corporate donation ban and top donor identification on political advertising). Activists: please contact members of the committee and ask for their support on any of these bills. Links to contact information of House Election Law Committee members. Supporting documents at ODA State House page

What happened last week

HB 1773, Open Democracy's citizen-funded elections bill, was voted down by the full House, 214-135. 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 has volunteered to be a member of an ad hoc committee to see how HB 1773 can be improved.

SB 440 would provide civil penalties for violation of campaign finance rules. The Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee recommended Interim Study on a 3-1 vote. Interim Study could mean just that, or it could mean slow death.

HB 1524 (amendment to the US Constitution allowing regulation of money in politics and prohibiting partisan advantage in redistricting). The bill was voted Inexpedient to Legislate (Vote 10-7). Links to contact information at House State-Federal Relations & Veterans Affairs Committee members.  Supporting documents at ODA State House page.

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. Status: ITL in the House 214-135.

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-FN)

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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