Newsletter #2

Reform Caucus Legislative Update #2, January 21, 2017

We have four bills being heard this week.  Three are priority bills in House Election Law (see below) on Tuesday January 24th in the afternoon.   

Also on Tuesday, Jan. 24, SB 47 will be heard at 9:00 am before Senate Election Law.  This is a new bill on our list and potentially a very significant one as it makes a major change by moving enforcement of elections laws from the AG to the secretary of state.  This centralizes administration and enforcement in one agency.  It is unclear at this point exactly how SB 47 plans to fix the serious and longstanding problem we have had with the non-enforcement of our campaign finance laws with (there appears to be no additional funding in the bill), but it is very encouraging that for the first time in many sessions, we have several serious bills that address the problem – and SB 47 has strong Republican sponsors.

We need your advice and counsel on how best to summarize in this weekly update (perhaps as supplemented with other more-specific communications) the nitty-gritty of:  (1) what happened last week on the bills, (2) their prospects, and (3) possible actions and strategies for the caucus to take. The summary of last week below is very brief, and maybe that’s all we need, but please advise the co-chairs or Olivia.  Thanks.

First point of contact is Olivia Zink: Email, Office: 715-8197, Cell: 661-8621.

What happened this past week

Priority and Tracking Bills: All the following were heard as scheduled.  There were with no continuation of hearings, subcommittees created, or executive or work session dates set.

 Senate Election Law, Tuesday January 17th

SB 33 (closing loophole for reporting by independent groups) – Mixed reception.  Democrats 

           supportive, Sens. Sanborn and Gray asking hard/strange questions. AFP only opposed. 

House Election Law, Wednesday January 18th

HB 203-FN-A (independent redistricting) – Mixed reception by committee.  Good testimony.

HB 116 (Citizens United study) – Large pro turnout (even with snow), good pro testimony.

House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs, Thursday January 19th

HR 7 (call for US constitutional amendment restricting donations to constituents) – Good testimony, many questions, well received.

Coming up this week, January 23 – 27  

Tuesday, January 24th

SENATE Election Law and Internal Affairs – LOB 102

SB 47  Changes the responsibility for investigating and enforcing election laws including campaign finance (RSA 664) from the Attorney General to the secretary of state.  This is a major change, and we missed this LSR. It is difficult to know what position to take until after the hearing, but this appears to be a much different approach to solving the problem of poor enforcement than taken by one of our priority bills – Sen. Feltes’ LSR 0974 (no bill yet) that appropriates funds to the AG for enforcement.  Note: There is no FN for SB 47.   Prime Sponsor: Sen. Carson  

9:00 am – LOB 102.   This is the committee’s only bill for the day. 

Tuesday, January 24th

HOUSE Election Law – LOB 308

HB 533   Closes the loophole that allows some independent groups that run electioneering ads as issue ads to avoid registering with the secretary of state and filing expenditure reports. The same as SB 33. Prime Sponsor: Rep. M. Smith.

1:00 pm – LOB 308.  Seventh of nine hearings beginning at 10:00. 

HB 519    Establishes a bipartisan commission to study the feasibility of implementing a clearinghouse model for tracking political expenditures and contributions in real time (as they occur).  Prime sponsor: Rep. Higgins, Graf. 12.

1:30 pm – LOB 308.   Eighth of nine hearings.

HB 537   Fixes the loophole that allows candidates to accept individual donations of up to $5,000 before they officially file for office.  Prime sponsor: Rep. Porter, Hills. 1.

2:00 pm – LOB 308.  Ninth of nine hearings

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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