Reform Caucus Legislative Update

#11, March 9, 2018

The snowstorm slowed the legislative pace in Concord, but not enough to extend the life of several ODA priority bills. All but two are dead. No further action is expected before crossover on March 22. 

What you need to know in a nutshell 

No action on ODA priority bills is anticipated in the near future.

What happened last week

On Tuesday, HB 1368, the bill that would close the loophole allowing a donor to create multiple Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) to get around campaign contribution limits, was voted Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) in the House, 150-121.

Also on Tuesday, three other ODA priority bills placed on the Consent Calendar went down on a voice vote. HB 1540 (ranked-choice voting), HB 1666 (redistricting reform), and HB 1667 (banning corporate donations to campaigns) are done for the year. Hopefully, improved versions will be submitted in 2019.

On Wednesday, Rep. Marjorie Smith led a valiant effort on the House floor to remove SB 33 from the table. Her motion failed, 149-174. SB 33, a top priority bill for ODA, closes the loophole that allows independent spending groups to avoid registering with the Secretary of State and filing expenditure reports. Its future remains uncertain.

Bill Status Summary (actions by the full House or Senate in bold print)

HB 1368 (closes LLC loophole): ITL House 150-121, March 6.

HB 1524 (constitutional amendment): ITL House, 185-138, Feb. 22.

HB 1540 (ranked-choice voting): ITL House, Consent Calendar voice vote, March 6.

HB 1666 (redistricting reform): ITL House, Consent Calendar voice vote, March 6.

HB 1667 (banning unlimited corp. donations): ITL House, Consent Calendar voice vote, March 6.

HB 1773** (civic-dollar election option): ITL House 214-135, Feb. 8.

SB 33** (closes disclosure loophole): Tabled House 162-155, Feb. 15, (motion to remove from table failed, 149-174), March 7.

SB 363 (bans foreign donations): OTP with amendment Senate 24-0, Feb. 15.

SB 440 (raises penalties for campaign finance violations): killed by being sent to Interim Study, Senate voice vote, Feb. 15.

** ODA top priorities

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 363 prohibits political expenditures by foreign nationals in state elections. Committee: Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs. Prime sponsor: Sen. Feltes.

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)

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


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