2019 Priority Reform Bills
SB 304, The Voter Owned Elections Act, relative to campaign contributions and expenditures
This bill uses Public “Voter Dollars” to fund qualified candidates who agree to a cap of $250 donations from private donors. Voters will be able to direct their four $25 Voter Dollars certificates to the qualified state candidates of their choice. The first step proposes using Voter Dollars for the governor and executive council races in 2022. Such a system reduces the influence of affluent donors who may or may not represent special interests. Expect hearings on this bill in late January or early February.
SB 156 relative to political contributions made by limited liability companies. This bill will fix a loophole in current legislation to get around campaign contribution limits. A similar bill was defeated in 2018, but faces a more receptive legislature in 2019. Sponsors Senators Dan Feltes, Martha Hennessey, & Melanie Levesque, and Represenative Sandra Keans.
SB 106 relative to the definition of political advocacy organization and expenditure. This a revision of 2018's SB 33, closing the loophole that allows groups to not to disclose their electioneering expenditures by restricting their advocacy to communications that do not expressly say vote “for” or “against” a candidate. Sponsored by Senator Dan Feltes Authored and supported by ODA
HB 297, relative to political advertisements on behalf of political committees or advocacy organizations. This bill patches an existing RSA by requiring the advertiser's name on the sign or flyer to the same one on file with the SOS's office. Sponsored by Steven Smith and William Marsh. Supported by ODA
HCR 5 A resolution requesting the United States Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to reverse the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. ODA has been advised that there are three such bills, one bill in the House, one bill coming from the Senate, and this resolution. You may recall that Open Democracy's New Hampshire Rebellion activists successfully passed a resolution three years ago in 85 towns plus the city of Keene calling for this action. There are two other proposed bills, not resolutions, working through the legislature as well. This bill is sponsored by Representatives Kat McGhee and Peter Petrigno from Hillsborough County.
HB 504, relative to election-related amendments to the United States Constitution. Unlike the resolution HCR 5,which directs our Congressional delegation to take action on overturning Citizens United but can't be ratified by the NH Senate, HB 504 requires specific U.S. Constitutional amendment language, assembles a state committee to hear input from the public, and requires that redistricting not favor one political party over another. Prime sponsors are Ellen Read, Martha Fuller Clark, Edward Butler, Timothy Smith, William Pearson, Ivy Vann, and Joseph Guthrie. Supported by ODA
Money in politics
SB 206 excluding the cost of lobbying and political activity from the rates of public utilities. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in major efforts like Northern Pass. This bill proposes that those costs are not passed on the the consumer. Sponsored by Senators Dan Feltes and Martha Fuller Clark, and Reps. Erin Hennessey and David Luneau.
HB 152 increasing the threshold for reporting by political committees. HB 152 is attempting to raise the limit at which a donation must be disclosed by a political committee to the NH Secretary of State's office from $25.00 to $100. In our opinion, this makes campaign funding less transparent. Sponsored Reps. Jess Edwards , Max Abramson, Timothy Lang, Dave Testerman, Sean Morrison, Peter Torosian Opposed by ODA
HB 456 relative to persons required to register as a lobbyist. This bill removes the exception from required lobbyist registration for certain communications by an employee on behalf of his or her employer. Sponsored by Marjorie Smith , Martha Fuller Clark, Daniel Eaton, and Mary Heath.
SB 230 relative to requiring the attorney general to hire staff to supervise election law, campaign finance law, and lobbying matters. (No text available yet.) Sponsored by Dan Feltes, Martha Fuller Clark, Sharon Carson, Karen Ebel, Martha Hennessey.
Redistricting and ending gerrymandering
We have two redistricting bills this term, one which addresses the creation of a nonpartisan redistricting commission. One bill establishes a commission in the near term. The other, a proposed NH Constitutional amendment, aims to enshrine that commission as a permanent body for the state.
HB 706 establishing an independent redistricting commission. This extensive & complicated bill lays out a plan for a commission to convene every 10 years, comprised of selected citizens who are not highly political. It excludes political party leaders, lobbyists, big donors, but does have equal numbers of the two largest parties (1/3 + 1/3), as well as an equal share of smaller parties and independents (1/3). Similar to a jury selection process, it begins with a pool of 60 commission candidates, then is whittled down to 15, while maintaining the same 1/3 ratios. Should the redistricting plans fail to be adopted by the House & Senate, the NH Supreme Court would intervene. Bill sponsors include Rep. Marjorie Smith, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, Rep. Marjorie Porter, Rep. Paul Berch, Rep. David Danielson, Rep. Karen Ebel, Rep. Edward Gordon, Rep. Jerry Knirk, and Sen. Shannon Chandley. Supported by ODA. ODA Co-Chair Rick Bourdon's testimony.
CACR 9 Establishes a redistricting commission comprised of seven members of the public, one each by appointed by the president of the NH Senate, speaker of the NH House, House minority leader, and Senate minority leader. The remaining three would come from an application process and would be elected by the other four. Sponsors include Reps. David Doherty , Marjorie Smith, James Belanger, Marjorie Porter and David Huot, and Senator Jeanne Dietsch. Supported by ODA