March 24, 2019 Newsletter

SB 8 Vote Likely Thursday for Senate's Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission

With the NH House completing its democracy bills two weeks ago, the action has been in the Senate last week and for the Wednesday, March 27 full session.

Call your senator signSB 8 has now been amended to include many of the elements of the House's version, HB 706. Both bills now include a 15-member commission chosen from a pool of 45 initial candidates, a four-year absence from State government for legislators and state officials, and prohibitions of party leaders, big donors, family members of legislators and lobbyists. Both SB 8 and HB 706 protect fairness for ethnic and communities of interest. The bill passed in the Elections Law and Municipal Affairs committee along party lines 3-2. Supported by ODA, recommend OTP with a roll call vote

Will Transparency Win Over Special Interests? SB 155 & 156

The full Senate votes Wednesday on two campaign finance bills which pit transparency of donations against special interests and big donors. 

Cartoon of a man with large moneybag for a headPrior to the year 2000, RSA 664 barred “business entities” from making political contributions directly to a candidate. A court case deemed the language in RSA 664 too broad, and the NH Legislators struck the “business entity” language from the law.

As a result, for the last 18 years, business donations directly to candidates have not been prohibited. SB 155 restores the “business entity” language, and because language of allowing donations to “Segregated Funds” not controlled by the candidates had already be added, the bill is now acceptable to the courts. Unfortunately, though, the Elections Law Committee voted it Inexpedient to Legislate in a 4-1 vote. We hope the full Senate will reconsider this bill and vote OTP. Supported by ODA, recommend committee override, OTP

In a related vote, on SB 156, the committee did vote to close the so-called “LLC loophole.” This bill will fix a loophole in current federal legislation to get around campaign contribution limits by anonymously donating to a limited liability corporation, or LLC. The bill apportions the donation amounts by that person's share in the LLC, and requires that names and addresses be disclosed when reporting to the NH Secretary of State. The committee voted OTP 3-2, and it will be before the full Senate this Wednesday. Supported by ODA, recommend OTP with a roll call vote

SB 106 Defines Political Advocacy Groups

Because of a weak definition in state law, some groups sending mailers and doing electioneering on behalf of candidates have skirted existing campaign spending disclosure rules. SB 106 expands the definition of political advocacy groups including an annual political spending Call your senator signthreshold of $5,000 as proposed, but an even lower threshold of $2,500 was proposed in a hearing last week. Conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity and Cornerstone Action are opposed, citing the need to register and that the definition is too wide, and might encompass the media. Open Democracy Action's Rick Bourdon testified in support of the bill:

SB 106 has been carefully constructed to address a glaring loophole in New Hampshire election law that certain groups have exploited over the years. Open Democracy Action supports any amendment to the bill that addresses legal concerns so long as, in the end, that loophole is closed for good. The bill should be implemented right away so that we don't go through another election cycle without a full accounting of electioneering spending. I strongly encourage the Committee to vote Ought to Pass on SB 106. Supported by ODA, recommend OTP

SMART Act SB 7 Passes 14-10 in the Senate

The SMART Act, SB 7, seeks to facilitate voter registration during transactions at the Department of Motor Vehicles, such as drivers license Great news! badgerenewals new licenses. Due to the integration of new data into the DMV databases, there is a cost to such a bill, with estimates of $500,000. Like SB 8, the Smart Act was supported by Democrats and not Republicans, 3-2, and was mirrored in the Senate with a 14-10 party line vote. Make sure to drop your senator a line thanking them for their support of democracy  - and ask those who voted against it, "Why not?"   The bill now crosses over to the House.

 

Birdsell, Regina

Republican

 

19

Nay

Bradley, Jeb

Republican

 

03

Nay

Carson, Sharon

Republican

 

14

Nay

Cavanaugh, Kevin

Democrat

 

16

Yea

Chandley, Shannon

Democrat

 

11

Yea

D'Allesandro, Lou

Democrat

 

20

Yea

Dietsch, Jeanne

Democrat

 

09

Yea

Feltes, Dan

Democrat

 

15

Yea

French, Harold

Republican

 

07

Nay

Fuller Clark, Martha

Democrat

 

21

Yea

Giuda, Bob

Republican

 

02

Nay

Gray, James

Republican

 

06

Nay

Hennessey, Martha

Democrat

 

05

Yea

Kahn, Jay

Democrat

 

10

Yea

Levesque, Melanie

Democrat

 

12

Yea

Morgan, Jon

Democrat

 

23

Yea

Morse, Chuck

Republican

 

22

Nay

Reagan, John

Republican

 

17

Nay

Rosenwald, Cindy

Democrat

 

13

Yea

Sherman, Tom

Democrat

 

24

Yea

Soucy, Donna

Democrat

 

18

Yea

Starr, David

Republican

 

01

Nay

Ward, Ruth

Republican

 

08

Nay

Watters, David

Democrat

 

04

Yea

 UPCOMING HEARINGS & SESSION VOTES

Red = Open Democracy Action Priority Bill

The Senate will meet in session on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 3 p.m., and Thursday, March 28, at 9 a.m.

SB 283, Authorizes the Secretary of State to acquire and review new types of optical vote counting machines in anticipation of replacing older machines. 5-0 OTP in committee. Fix redistricting now sign

SB 8, the Senate's own version of the nonpartisan redistricting commission. The bill has been amended to now have 15 commissioners, none of whom are sitting legislators or have been for the previous four years. Also a change, like HB 706, the pool begins with 15 each of Republicans, Democrats and Independents/3rd party members. Supported by ODA, recommend OTP with a roll call vote

SB 67, relative to the definitions of resident and residency. Similar to HB 106, this bill attempts to clarify language regarding domain and residency. It adds the following language to the existing RSA 21:6: “A person who satisfies the definition of residency in this section, but who does not have a current intent to remain in his or her place of domicile or abode for the indefinite future, including  military personnel, a student of any institution of learning, or a person employed for a fixed term, is not a resident for the purposes of Title XXI of New Hampshire's statutes governing motor vehicles.” Supported by ODA through its allies.

Call your senator signSB 155, relative to permissible campaign contributions by business organizations. Inexpedient to Legislate, Vote 4-1. Supported by ODA, recommend committee override, OTP 

SB 156, relative to political contributions made by limited liability companies. Ought to Pass, Vote 3-2. Supported by ODA, recommend OTP

SB 158, relative to town and city membership in a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and prohibiting recipients of municipal or county funds from using such funds for lobbying. Re-refer to Committee, Vote 3-2.
 


Results of Last Week's Full Senate Votes

Next sessions for the full NH Senate and full NH House, 10 AM. There are several democracy-related bills being acted on in the session.

OTP = Ought to Pass

ITL = Inexpedient to Legislate

SB 7, (March 14) Passed, roll call vote, 14-10 establishing the secure modern accurate registration act (SMART ACT), a bill to facilitate voter registration during transactions at the Department of Motor Vehicles, such as drivers license. renewals new licenses.

SB 304, (March 14) Re-Referred to Committee The Voter-Owned Elections Act has been recommended by the committee for re-refer, after members concluded that the cost shouldn't be covered by taxpayers. Vote 3-2 for re-refer, and the Open Democracy Action policy committee will continue to work until the bill's return in January 2020

SB 231, (March 14) Re-Referred to Committee Establishes rules, process and penalties for untruthful political advertising. The committee voted 5-0 to re-refer this.

SB 305, (March 14) Re-Referred to Committee Similar to SB 7, SB 305 allows voters obtaining or renewing a drivers license to register to vote. Costs associated include the programming of the state systems to enter and store relevant data. The committee voted to re-refer this bill, though SB 7 was voted OTP.

SB 206, (March 21) Passed, roll call vote, Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in major lobbying efforts like Northern Pass. This bill proposes that those costs are not passed on the the consumer. This bill had passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and was confirmed with a bipartisan 24-0 vote in the full Senate.

SB 230, (March 21) Passed, voice vote, then tabled, voice vote. The bill requiring the Attorney General to hire staff to supervise election law, campaign finance law, and lobbying matters. The Attorney General testified in support of the bill. OTP by a voice vote, followed by Senator Feltes’ motion to table, which also passed by a voice vote.

 

LEGISLATION WE'RE WATCHING THIS TERM

For updates and descriptions of the other important democracy legislation this session, click on the links below.

Click here arrowPublic funding

Redistricting and ending gerrymandering

Campaign reform

Money in politics

 

Questions? Want to Help?

Olivia Zink: olivia@opendemocracy.me; (603) 661-8621 (cell)

Rick Bourdon: rick.bourdon@gmail.com; (603) 795-2818; (603) 759-1888 (cell)

Brian Beihl: Brian@Beihl.org (603) 620-8300 (cell)


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  • Brian Beihl
    published this page in State House 2019-03-27 18:31:54 -0400