November 16, 2012 •
Two groups argue that the laws are unconstitutional
An old lawsuit has been resurrected that could leave Washington’s public disclosure law involving grassroots lobbying in jeopardy. Two groups, Conservative Enthusiasts and Many Cultures, One Message, sued the Washington Public Disclosure Commission in 2010 claiming their free speech rights were violated by the law requiring grassroots campaigns to register and report with the state.
The case was dismissed by a magistrate for lack of standing. However, last week, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court heard the appeal on the dismissal and will soon be making a decision on the law in question.
At issue in the case will be whether the law is unconstitutionally vague. The law defines lobbying, among other things, as attempting to influence the passage of legislation. Included in the definition of legislation is “any other matter that may be the subject of action” by the legislature. It is this language that is the nature of the lawsuit. The two groups claim that the language is overly vague and includes “an endless possibility of matters.”
Now, it is up to the appellate court to decide whether the case will go back to the trial court for a hearing on the merits and whether the dismissal will be upheld.
October 16, 2012 •
New law to limit incumbents’ advantage over challengers
The Seattle City Council approved a bill last night that changes the way campaign finance will work in future elections. Council Bill 117548 was approved by a 7-2 vote, but it will not take effect until after the upcoming November elections.
The new law changes the definition of election cycle, which now starts January 1 in the year prior to the general election for that office and will end April 30 following the election. Candidates will only be allowed to raise money and accept contributions during the election cycle period. The new law also limits the amount of money incumbents can carry over to the next election. The council believes that this will give challengers more of an opportunity to unseat an incumbent.
Currently, there is no limit to how much money candidates can stockpile, leading most incumbents to create massive war chests to fend off challengers. The new law does not allow any candidate to carry money over past the end of the election cycle. Current city council members have 30 days to transfer their current funds to a new campaign without being subject to the rules. Political committees are also subject to the carry-over provisions.
Finally, the new law also raises the contribution limits from $600 to $700 to candidates for mayor, city council, or city attorney.
August 13, 2012 •
Bill to limit the advantages for incumbents
Councilman Mike O’Brien has introduced a bill to the city council in hopes of limiting the advantages incumbents currently have in city elections. The bill, which has been placed into committee, would limit the election cycle, limit the time frame a person can raise money for a campaign, and limit the amount of money a candidate may keep at the end of the election cycle.
The new election cycle would start on January 1st of the year that office is up for election and end on April 30th following the general election. Also, a candidate would be forced to get rid of the money in his or her war chest following the end of the election cycle. Councilman O’Brien believes this will limit the advantage an incumbent has over challengers and encourage more people to run for city office.
The bill would take effect 30 days after the mayor signs it, however any money received by a candidate prior to the effective date may be retained until the next election for that office.
May 9, 2012 •
We have news on redistricting issues from four states:
Alaska: “High court to hear redistricting petition” by The Associated Press in The Anchorage Daily News.
Kansas: “GOP redistricting fight could mean courts make final decision” by John Hanna (Associated Press) in the Lawrence Journal World.
North Carolina: “Redistricting sets stage for fall elections” by Emery Dalesio (Associated Press) in the Winston-Salem Journal.
Washington: “Supreme Court upholds state redistricting plan” by Warren Kagarise in the Issaquah Press.
March 9, 2012 •
Five state legislatures report end to sessions
ARKANSAS: The fiscal session of the Arkansas General Assembly adjourned at noon on Friday, March 9, 2012.
OREGON: The Oregon Legislative Assembly has adjourned sine die for the 2012 regular session on March 5.
UTAH: The 2012 general session of the Utah State Legislature adjourned sine die on March 8, ending on its 45th day, the last permitted by the Constitution for annual general sessions. Governor Gary Herbert has until March 28 to sign or veto bills presented to him by the legislature.
WASHINGTON: The 2012 regular session of the Washington State Legislature adjourned sine die on March 8, 2012. Governor Gregoire has called for a special session to begin on March 12, 2012 to address a supplemental budget plan.
WYOMING: The State of Wyoming Legislature adjourned sine die on March 8. Governor Matt Mead has until March 26 to sign or veto legislation that reaches his desk.
Many thanks to our terrific Research Department for this update!
February 17, 2012 •
Here is today’s redistricting news from the states:
Arizona: “Arizona House Speaker wants June special election on redistricting” by Mary Jo Pitzl in The Arizona Republic.
Florida: “Gov. Rick Scott signs off on new congressional districts” by Brandon Larrabee in the Miami Herald.
“With redistricting lawsuit looming, legislators want immunity” by Mary Ellen Klas in the Tampa Bay Times.
“House redistricting tweaks quietly put U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams in her preferred district” by Mark K. Matthews and Aaron Deslatte in the Orlando Sentinel.
Maryland: “Alternative redistricting plans stalled” by Danielle E. Gaines in the Gaithersburg Gazette.
Missouri: “Missouri Supreme Court examines new US House districts” by Chris Blank in the Kansas City Star.
New York: “Senate redistricting proposal comes under fire” by Aaron Besecker in The Buffalo News.
“Judge calls for ‘special master’ to redraw state legislative and congressional district boundaries” by Kenneth Lovette in the New York Daily News.
Washington: “Secretary of state asking justices to approve redistricting plan” byThe Associated Press in The Seattle Times.
Wisconsin: “Court issues stern order in state redistricting” by Scott Bauer in the Green Bay Press Gazette.
“Federal judges slam GOP lawmakers over redistricting secrecy” by Patrick Marley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
January 17, 2012 •
Bill Merges Legislative and Executive Ethics Commissions into the Public Disclosure Commission
The Washington House of Representatives has introduced house bill 2402, which will transfer ethics enforcement responsibility.
This bill merges the legislative branch ethics commission and the executive branch ethics commission into the public disclosure commission.
Photo of the interior of the Washington State Capitol Building by Cacophony on Wikipedia.
January 11, 2012 •
Washington’s public affairs network is offering a new service.
Take a look at this news item on NCSL’s blog, The Thicket: “TVW Introduces SCOUT” by Jan Goehring.
According to the post: “TVW, the Washington state public affairs network, is offering an innovative service to citizens who want to follow public policy issues and the legislative process. This new tool, called SCOUT, allows the public to easily keep track of issues. SCOUT will track video and bill information and automatically send it to those who open a free account.”
Photo of the Washington State Capitol dome by Tradnor on Wikipedia.
January 10, 2012 •
Makes Electronic Lobbyist Filing Mandatory
The Washington House of Representatives, Committee on State Government and Tribal Affairs, has scheduled a public hearing for January 11, 2012 and a possible executive session for January 12, 2012 to discuss House Bill 1474 which would make electronic filing of lobbying reports mandatory.
It would also create new fees associated with electronic filings by lobbyists, lobbyist employers, and PACs.
If passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, changes will be effective July 1, 2012.
Photo of the Washington House of Representatives Chamber by Cacophony on Wikipedia.
December 30, 2011 •
Upholds Donor Disclosure Requirements
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has invalidated a Washington state law that prevented individuals from making contributions of more than $5,000 to PACs supporting ballot measures during the three weeks prior to an election.
The blackout period on contributions was challenged in a lawsuit filed by Family PAC, a political action committee that was formed to oppose Washington’s domestic partnership law.
While Family PAC was successful on the merits in challenging the blackout period, it was unsuccessful in its challenge to laws requiring PACs to report the name and address of anyone who contributes more than $25, and the occupation and employer of those who make contributions in excess of $100.
December 29, 2011 •
Big changes coming to U.S. House district map
The Washington State Redistricting Commission has released a plan for a new map of congressional districts for the state. It must be approved by the Commission by January 1, 2012.
For full news coverage read:
“New Washington map creates competitive district” by Aaron Blake in the Washington Post.
“Radical changes in U.S. House district boundaries” by Joel Connelly in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
“Deal reached on new Washington congressional districts” by Mike Baker in the Seattle Times.
December 19, 2011 •
August 26, 2011 •
Andrea McNamara Doyle to Replace Interim Director Doug Ellis
Andrea McNamara Doyle has been selected to be the new director of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.
Doyle, who has previous experience as a government manager and legislative staff attorney, was chosen from 71 applicants after a several month search.
She will replace interim director Doug Ellis who is retiring from the agency later this year.
July 26, 2011 •
Early Advantage in Campaign Cash at Stake
The campaign finance practices of Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee have come under fire as his campaign has asked supporters of his past congressional campaigns to roll their donations forward to his current campaign, regardless of contribution limits.
Inslee could then ask those donors for additional money that would be subject to the state’s campaign finance limits for the 2012 election cycle.
Republican candidate Rob McKenna’s campaign, characterized the money as “illegal.”
The Washington Public Disclosure Commission staff has stated that Inslee’s interpretations of campaign finance regulations are correct.
McKenna’s campaign pointed to federal election documents that show Inslee never declared the cash as surplus money, meaning it cannot be transferred, and also questioned whether a federal candidate could ever move money to a state campaign because the cash was raised under different election rules.
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