Reform Caucus Legislative Update #13, April 10, 2017
In short. This past week on Tuesday, April 4, SB 33 (closing independent spending loophole) was heard in the House Election Law and HB 537 (closing the $5,000 pre-filing loophole) was heard in Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs.
Coming up next week is the hearing in House Finance on SB 197-FN-A (adding $200K over the biennium on the Attorney General's budget for enforcement of election laws) and a possible executive session on HB 537 in Senate Election Law on Tuesday April 11. The House and Senate will not be in session until April 20, and we are in a new and uncertain time because of the House’s failure to pass a budget by the April 6 deadline. This is unprecedented in recent times (40+ years) and because the Biennial Budget (HB 1 and HB 2) affects every aspect of state government, limbo and uncertainty on the budget puts a lot of other bills on hold.
Reminders. (1) Open Democracy Action plans to create a legislative scorecard based on floor votes. It is critical, therefore, that votes on priority bills be roll calls. So please, when one of our bills comes up, be willing to ask for a roll call. (2) We are collecting and making available talking points, briefs, call scripts, and other useful documents on the ODA website. You can access them here. If you have documents you want us to make publicly available, send them to Olivia Zink: firstname.lastname@example.org .
WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK, APRIL 3-7
HOUSE Election Law
Hearing: SB 33 closes the loophole that allows independent spending groups to avoid registering with the Secretary of State and filing expenditure reports. Prime sponsor: Sen. Bradley. None of the sponsors were available to present the bill (Sen. Carson was triple-booked, Sen. Bradley out of town) so Olivia and Gordon presented it, including considerable written testimony. It was rushed, through, because all the focus was on the Speaker’s amendment to SB 108 to allow towns and school districts to ratify the result of their snowstorm-delayed March elections, which turned out to be a 5-hour hearing and a 10-10 vote at the end. Note: Greg Moore, from AFP, again testified against SB 33 last and provided a string of bizarre arguments against the bill (all with no documentation, nor written testimony) which this time included that SB 33 would require the Secretary of State to file campaign expenditure reports to itself.
SENATE Election Law and Internal Affairs
Hearing: HB 537 closes the loophole that allows candidates to accept individual donations of up to $5,000 before they publicly declare for office. Prime sponsor: Rep. Porter, Hills. 1. Rep. Porter presented in a short hearing. There were few questions with ones from Sen. Sanborn trying to somehow link HB 537 to a position on the Citizens United Decision and pointing out that there were many more loopholes that HB 537 did not address. There was no executive session on HB 537.
COMING UP THIS WEEK, APRIL 10-14
Tuesday, April 11
Hearing 10:30 AM: SB 197-FN-A (as amended) calling for an appropriation to the Department of Justice of $200,000 over two years to enforce election and lobbying laws.
SENATE Election Law and Internal Affairs
Room 102 LOB
10 AM Committee Meeting: Possible executive session on HB 537.
Bill Status Summary – Top priority bills supported by ODA
HB 203-FN-A (redistricting commission): ITL full House 190-164, 2/15/17
HB 320 (computer redistricting): ITL full House 184-161, 3/8/17
HB 519 (clearinghouse): ITL full House 192-158, 3/8/17
HB 533 (independent spending loophole, same as SB 33): Retained, House Election Law 20-0, 2/21/17
HB 537 ($5,000 pre-filing loophole): OTP full House (Consent Calendar voice vote, 3/8), Hearing: Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs 4/4/17
SB 33 (independent spending loophole, same as HB 533): OTP full Senate 14-9, 2/23, Hearing: House Election Law 4/4/17
SB 107 (redistricting commission, similar to HB 203): ITL full Senate 14-9, 3/30/17
SB 197-FN-A ($ for election law enforcement): OTP (with amendment) full Senate 23-0, 3/16. Hearing: House Finance 4/11/17
Bill Status Summary – Other campaign finance bills supported by ODA
HB 116 (Citizens United): ITL full House 193-165, 3/9/17
HR 7 (Constitutional amendment): OTP full House 211-75, 2/9/17
SB 115 (LLC loophole): ITL full Senate 14-9, 2/23/17
To contact ODA:
Open Democracy Action: 4 Park Street Suite 301, Concord, NH 03301; Office: (603) 715-8197