Reform Caucus Legislative Update #9, March 10, 2017
In short. This past week produced mixed results. Three of the bills on our list died in the full house: HB 116 (Citizens United), HB 320 (computer redistricting), and HB 519 (clearinghouse). On the positive side, HB 537 ($5,000 pre-filing loophole) passed on the Consent Calendar, and SB 197-FN-A ($ for election law enforcement) was voted OTP (with amendment) in the Senate Finance Committee. Little will happen on ODA bills in the coming week with the exception of a Senate floor vote on SB 197-FN-A.
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 publically available, send them to Olivia Zink: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happened this past week
Wednesday, March 8
Full HOUSE Session
Consent Calendar: HB 537 closes the loophole that allows candidates to accept individual donations of up to $5,000 before they publically declare for office.
Rep. Porter's bill passed on a voice vote.
Floor vote: HB 320 calls for use of a computer model to draw unbiased state and federal election district boundaries. Redistricting criteria would be limited to district population size and compactness.
Despite Rep. Epstein's masterful Parliamentary Inquiry, the bill was voted ITL 184-161. Opponents insisted that the computer code would be subject to partisan influence.
Floor vote: 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).
Perhaps a clearinghouse is too futuristic for many House members. The bill was voted ITL 192-158.
Executive session: SB 197-FN-A calls for an appropriation to the Department of Justice of $500,000 over two years to enforce election and lobbying laws.
Sen. Feltes' bill was voted OTP with an amendment reducing the two-year appropriation from $500,000 to $200,000.
Thursday, March 9
Full HOUSE Session
Floor vote: HB 116 calls for legislative hearings to assess the consequences of the Citizens United decision and evaluate proposals to amend the U.S. Constitution in the wake of that ruling. The bill also calls upon New Hampshire's congressional delegation to support such an amendment.
Rep. Read spoke effectively for the bill. Nonetheless it was voted ITL 193-165.
Coming up next week, March 13-17
Action on priority bills is limited to Thursday's floor vote in the full session of the Senate. No meetings are scheduled for Election Law committees in either the House or Senate.
Thursday, March 16
Full SENATE Session
Floor vote: SB 197-FN-A (as amended) calls for an appropriation to the Department of Justice of $200,000 over two years to enforce election and lobbying laws. Prime sponsor: Sen. Feltes.
The amended version of SB 197 came out of the Finance Committee with an OTP recommendation. We urge Reform Caucus members to vote Ought to Pass.
Bill Status – 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): Retain 20-0, House Election Law 2/21/17 (Same as SB 33)
HB 537 ($5,000 pre-filing loophole): OTP full House (Consent Calendar voice vote), 3/8/17
SB 33 (independent spending loophole): OTP full Senate 14-9, 2/23/17 (Same as HB 533)
SB 107 (redistricting commission): Hearing, Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs, 2/14/17 (Similar to HB 203)
SB 197-FN-A ($ for election law enforcement): OTP (with amendment) Senate Finance, 3/8/17, Senate floor 3/16
Bill Status – 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