March 1, 2011 •
Limited to Federal Office Seekers
Representative Keith Grover has introduced a bill allowing for some campaign contributions to be made during legislative sessions. HB 395 allows for accepting a campaign contribution when the Legislature is in session for an official who is a candidate for federal elective office. The contribution must be placed in a separate account specifically designated for the candidate’s campaign account for federal office.
Currently, no contributions may be made when the Legislature is convened in an annual general session, veto override session, or a special session convened before July 1st of a general election year.
Photo of Rep. Keith Grover courtesy of the Utah House of Representatives website.
February 18, 2011 •
Also To Be Available to Public
Senator Michael G. Waddoups introduced a bill mandating training for all registered lobbyists. SB 251 requires the lieutenant governor to develop and maintain a training course for lobbyists and make the training available on the internet to both lobbyists and the public. The bill also includes a component to help lobbyists understand state campaign finance requirements.
Lobbyists would be required to complete the training course once a year. A lobbyist who does not complete the training required could face a $1,000 fine and suspension of their lobbying license.
Photo of Senator Waddoups courtesy of the Utah Senate Web site.
February 16, 2011 •
Less Than A Week To Decide
The House Ethics Committee voted 5-3 against HB 0164, a bill imposing campaign contributions limits. Representative Rebecca Chaves-Houch had formerly introduced the legislation only four days earlier.
Utah presently has no limits to the amounts one can contribute to candidates for state offices. The bill caps contributions to $5,000 for legislative candidates, $10,000 for gubernatorial candidates, and $10,000 to state PACs.
Representative Chaves-Houch intends on reintroducing some version of the bill, possibly next year.
This post follows up a previous article by George Ticoras called “Putting Limits on Utah Contributions” from February 8, 2011.
Photo by Scott Catron on Wikipedia.
February 8, 2011 •
Statewide Candidates’ Amounts Set
Representative Rebecca Chaves-Houch introduced House Bill 0164 limiting political contributions to statewide candidates for office. Presently, there are no limits to the amounts one can contribute to candidates for state offices in Utah.
The bill’s provisions include caps on donations by individual contributors to $5,000 for legislative candidates, $10,000 for gubernatorial candidates, and $10,000 to state PACs.
The bill does not address corporate contributions to candidates, which Utah permits. If passed, the limits would take effect on January 1, 2013.
Photo of the Utah State Capitol Building by Sean Breazeal (Talshiarr) on Wikipedia.
January 18, 2011 •
New Bill To Be Introduced
Representative Keith Grover has prepared HB 32 for introduction, which would amend the current statutory campaign contribution and financial reporting requirements. The bill requires new disclosure reports to be filed, including both annual and interim reports, from county political parties spending at least $50 or receiving at least $750.
Included in the reports would be specific donor and expenditure detail. The bill also includes penalties, fines, and scheduling dates for filing.
The Seal of Utah by Svgalbertian on Wikipedia.
November 4, 2010 •
Amendment takes effect in 2011
On November 2nd, voters approved Constitutional Amendment D by a vote of 67 percent for to 33 percent against. Amendment D establishes a five-member legislative ethics commission with the authority to conduct an independent review of complaints alleging unethical legislative behavior.
The ultimate decision whether to punish or expel a member of either the House or Senate would remain with the member’s chamber. The amendment also prohibits sitting members of the legislature or registered lobbyists from serving on the new commission.
Amendment D takes effect on January 1, 2011.
November 3, 2010 •
A media review of major Utah county political parties recently revealed 71 percent had failed to file the financial disclosure statements supposedly required of them by August 31.
Now, Lt. Governor Greg Bell has informed the county parties they are not required to file. Going forward, only registered political parties will be required to file financial disclosure statements. Under state law, county parties are not required to register with the state. This new guidance runs contrary to previous statements which said all state and county parties were required to file disclosure statements.
The Salt Lake County Democratic Party has indicated it disagrees with the decision by the Lt. Governor’s office and plans to pursue the matter further. At this time, though, its legal options are unclear as the Utah Supreme Court has so far refused to hear their case. For its part, the Lt. Governor’s office plans to ask the legislature this coming January for a change in state law reflecting the new disclosure decision.
October 11, 2010 •
The Salt Lake County Democratic Party has filed a petition with the Utah Supreme Court asking it to intervene in the enforcement of state campaign finance law.
The plaintiffs allege the lieutenant governor’s office, which is charged by law to enforce the state’s campaign finance regulations, has taken no enforcement action against the 41 of 58 major county political parties which failed to submit their campaign finance disclosure statements by the recent August 31st deadline. The plaintiffs then turned to the Utah Attorney General asking for enforcement of the disclosure requirements.
The Attorney General’s office did not respond to the plaintiff’s enforcement request but later explained through a spokesman state law authorizes the lieutenant governor to act in matters touching upon campaign finance. For its part, the lieutenant governor’s office advises political parties to submit their financial disclosure statements even though state law does not specifically require them to do so.
According to Mark Thomas, elections director for the lieutenant governor, state law remains ambiguous on the question of the reporting responsibilities of county political parties; a question which will persist until state lawmakers clarify the law. “We would all like to get it better clarified,” Thomas said.
Photo of Salt Lake City by Skyguy414 on Wikipedia.
July 20, 2010 •
The five members of the state’s new independent legislative ethics commission met for the first time on Monday, July 19, 2010.
The commission is open for business even though, at this time, the commission has no staff, no Web site, no e-mail address, and only received a temporary mailing address in the Lt. Governor’s office on Monday evening. For the time being, complaints may be sent to Lt. Governor Bell’s office in confidence to P.O. Box 142525, Salt Lake City, UT 84114. Complaints may also be delivered in person to Bell’s office in Suite 220 at the State Capitol.
The Utah Legislature created the commission this year as part of an effort to reform legislative ethics. Utah voters will be able to vote in November on whether or not to make the new commission a permanent part of the state constitution.
Photo by Scott Catron on Wikipedia.
July 2, 2010 •
On July 1, 2010, three retired judges and two former lawmakers were named to the state legislature’s new independent ethics commission.
The new five-member commission, which will handle ethics complaints against lawmakers, was created in response to a grassroots citizens’ initiative for legislative ethics. The panel includes a retired member of the Utah Supreme Court as well as a former lieutenant governor. The commission’s first organizational meeting has yet to be scheduled but it will be open to the public. Utah voters will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to make the new panel a permanent part of the state constitution.
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