June 17, 2019 •

Bill Limiting Lobbyist Contributions Signed

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2677 prohibiting persons required to register as a lobbyist from knowingly making or authorizing certain political contributions or political expenditures. Prohibited contributions include those to another candidate, officeholder, or political committee […]

This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2677 prohibiting persons required to register as a lobbyist from knowingly making or authorizing certain political contributions or political expenditures.

Prohibited contributions include those to another candidate, officeholder, or political committee from political contributions accepted by the person as a candidate or officeholder or by a specific-purpose committee for the purpose of supporting the person as a candidate or assisting the person as an officeholder.

Under House Bill 2677, making a contribution described above requires a person to refrain from lobbying for a two-year period following the date the person makes or authorizes the contribution.

An exception is created for persons seeking to influence legislation or administrative action on behalf of nonprofit organizations, low income individuals, and a group of individuals with disabilities, and those not receiving compensation for their communications with members of the legislative and executive branches.

House Bill 2677 will go into effect on September 27, 2019.

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May 20, 2019 •

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Corporate Contribution Case

United States Supreme Court Building

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would decline to hear a challenge to a Massachusetts law. The law in question bans corporate contributions to campaigns, parties and candidate-focused political action committees. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial […]

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would decline to hear a challenge to a Massachusetts law.

The law in question bans corporate contributions to campaigns, parties and candidate-focused political action committees.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously rejected the challenge, brought by 1A Auto Inc. and 126 Self Storage Inc., in September.

The suit claimed disparate treatment by banning for-profit corporate contributions while allowing significant contributions by unions and nonprofits.

After the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, state law was updated to allow corporate spending for independent expenditures but not political contributions.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey applauded Monday’s decision not to hear the case for the integrity of state elections.

Opponents of the law are hopeful the Supreme Court will take up the issue in another case.

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May 20, 2019 •

New Jersey Dark Money Disclosure Bill Vetoed

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

Gov. Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed legislation requiring dark money groups spending money to influence elections in New Jersey to disclose their large donors. Senate Bill 1500, carried over from last year’s session, requires disclosure of contributors giving more than $10,000 […]

Gov. Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed legislation requiring dark money groups spending money to influence elections in New Jersey to disclose their large donors.

Senate Bill 1500, carried over from last year’s session, requires disclosure of contributors giving more than $10,000 to 501(c)(4) groups engaging in political activities and lobbying.

In issuing the veto, Gov. Murphy said the bill contained loopholes and inconsistent disclosure standards.

He also expressed concern about the legislation not passing judicial scrutiny because of broad disclosure requirements beyond spending in elections for groups involved in issue campaigns.

The veto went on to recommend requiring companies receiving large scale tax credits from the state to disclose public contracts and political contributions to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

The recommendation also sought to strike a provision limiting elected officials from managing dark-money groups.

Supporters of Senate Bill 1500, which overwhelmingly passed both houses, argued the legislation leveled the playing field by requiring all groups to disclose if trying to sway elections, legislation, or policy.

The legislature can attempt an override of the governor’s veto or work towards amending the bill based on the governor’s recommendations.

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May 17, 2019 •

New Utah Lobbying Updates Effective

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

House Bill 64, implementing the Local Government and Board of Education Lobbyist Disclosure and Regulation Act became effective on May 14, 2019. Additionally, House Bill 147, making changes to the existing Lobbyist Disclosure Act became effective on the same day. […]

House Bill 64, implementing the Local Government and Board of Education Lobbyist Disclosure and Regulation Act became effective on May 14, 2019.

Additionally, House Bill 147, making changes to the existing Lobbyist Disclosure Act became effective on the same day.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Office has released additional guidance on the new rules.

Guidance includes how online registration and reporting will be accomplished for local lobbyists.

The guidance also discusses the shift to annual registration for state level lobbyists.

Previously registered lobbyists choosing to renew their license in 2020 and new registrations will be required to pay a $60 fee and obtain new badges.

The new requirements also include completion of a workplace harassment and discrimination training.

Current, active lobbyists are not required to complete the new training until the license is renewed.

The lieutenant governor has asked that questions be directed to lobbyists@utah.gov or 801-538-1041.

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May 6, 2019 •

Massachusetts Campaign Finance Updates Delayed

Massachusetts Capitol Building

The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) missed a self-imposed deadline this week to release updated regulations limiting political contributions from labor unions. A spokesperson for the agency said it could take several more weeks to work out […]

The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) missed a self-imposed deadline this week to release updated regulations limiting political contributions from labor unions.

A spokesperson for the agency said it could take several more weeks to work out the details and release the new rules.

The push to update a labor union contribution loophole comes after a 2018 court ruling upholding the state’s ban on corporate contributions.

The ruling acknowledged the significant difference for labor unions.

The draft regulations released in March seek to reduce the amount of money a union can contribute to a candidate annually from $15,000 to $1,000.

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May 1, 2019 •

Montana Legislature Adjourns Sine Die

Montana Capitol Building by gillfoto [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

The Montana Legislature adjourned Sine Die on April 25, 2019, three days before it was scheduled to adjourn on the 90th legislative day. During the session, Senate Bill 150 passed changing the method for filing and reviewing ethics complaints. The […]

The Montana Legislature adjourned Sine Die on April 25, 2019, three days before it was scheduled to adjourn on the 90th legislative day.

During the session, Senate Bill 150 passed changing the method for filing and reviewing ethics complaints.

The Legislature also passed Senate Bill 326 adding a new provision prohibiting campaign contributions from foreign nationals. Included in the prohibitions are expenditures for electioneering communications.

Other notable bills of the 375 passed during the 66th Legislature include a re-authorization of the state’s Medicaid expansion and several anti-abortion bills likely to be vetoed by Gov. Steve Bullock.

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April 18, 2019 •

Texas Local Ethics Bills Being Considered

The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill to allow its counties to enforce local ethics rules.

Senate Bill 710, the Local Government Reform Act, seeks to allow each county to adopt an ethics code enforceable by a local ethics commission.

There is a similar law already in existence allowing local ethics enforcement in counties with a population over 800,000 and an international border.

El Paso County is the only county currently meeting this description.

Also moving through the Legislature is House Bill 1495, aiming to give ethics enforcement powers to El Paso and Montgomery Counties.

If passed, both bills would go into effect on September 1, 2019.

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April 5, 2019 •

Utah Campaign Finance Bills Signed

Last week, Gov. Gary Herbert signed six bills amending the state’s campaign finance laws. Updates include amended registration and reporting requirements for political action committees (PACs) and political issues committees (PICs). Additionally, updates modify provisions relating to the statement of […]

Last week, Gov. Gary Herbert signed six bills amending the state’s campaign finance laws.

Updates include amended registration and reporting requirements for political action committees (PACs) and political issues committees (PICs).

Additionally, updates modify provisions relating to the statement of organization and naming requirements of a PAC.

Other changes include a provision banning PICs from contributing to PACs and clarifications on how to dissolve a PAC.

Regarding electioneering communications, House Bill 319 requires a person making an expenditure for certain advertisements relating to a ballot proposition to disclose the person’s identity in the advertisement.

All bills take effect on May 13, 2019.

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April 4, 2019 •

Mississippi Legislature Adjourns

The Mississippi Legislature adjourned sine die on March 29. House Bill 1205 was passed, prohibiting public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to provide the public agency with the personal information of its members, supporters, volunteers or donors. While the bill […]

The Mississippi Legislature adjourned sine die on March 29.

House Bill 1205 was passed, prohibiting public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to provide the public agency with the personal information of its members, supporters, volunteers or donors.

While the bill has been negatively characterized as allowing dark money contributions, it does not affect any provision of the state’s campaign finance statutes.

An end-of-session report is due 10 days following adjournment sine die of the Legislature.

However, the Secretary of State’s Office has not yet announced a revision to the April 17 due date.

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March 28, 2019 •

Former Arizona Attorney General Launches Campaign Against Dark Money

Former Attorney General Terry Goddard launched an effort to prohibit the use of dark money in political campaigns. The proposed constitutional amendment, called The Voters Right to Know Act, seeks to require anyone spending at least $5,000 to influence the […]

Former Attorney General Terry Goddard launched an effort to prohibit the use of dark money in political campaigns.

The proposed constitutional amendment, called The Voters Right to Know Act, seeks to require anyone spending at least $5,000 to influence the outcome of an Arizona election to disclose the original source of the money.

The disclosure requirement would apply to both state and local elections in Arizona.

In order for the proposal to appear on the ballot in the 2020 general election, the campaign committee behind the citizen initiative will need close to half a million signatures.

Last year, the same campaign committee missed qualification for the ballot by just over 2,000 signatures.

The amendment would require the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to enforce the new campaign finance disclosure rules and exempt the commission’s anti-dark money rules from oversight by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council.

The proposal coincides with current Attorney General Mark Brnovich investigating whether Tempe’s ordinance banning dark money violates a law passed last year banning cities from enacting their own dark money disclosure regulations.

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March 21, 2019 •

Tempe Dark Money Ordinance Under Review

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich will soon rule on whether cities can impose restrictions on dark money in local campaigns. Sen. Vince Leach alleged Tempe violated a state law prohibiting local governments from requiring tax-exempt organizations from registering as political […]

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich will soon rule on whether cities can impose restrictions on dark money in local campaigns.

Sen. Vince Leach alleged Tempe violated a state law prohibiting local governments from requiring tax-exempt organizations from registering as political committees in 2017 by passing a voter approved ordinance banning dark money contributions.

The law allowing a legislator to demand an attorney general to investigate complaints applies only to ordinances, regulations or other official action adopted or taken by the governing board of a county, city or town.

It is unclear if the authority extends to this voter-approved measure referred to the ballot by Tempe City Council.

Tempe’s dark money ordinance was signed by Gov. Doug Ducey in 2017, as constitutionally required, but he noted it may soon be superseded by state law.

The ordinance in question requires any group spending more than $1,000 during an election cycle to disclose the original source of contributions.

The Office of the Attorney General has 30 days to decide if the complaint has merit.

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March 14, 2019 •

No Enforcement of Clark County Lobbying Law

An investigation done by the Las Vegas Review-Journal this month found little to no oversight or enforcement of Clark County’s lobbying laws. In addition to listing their clients when they register, current law requires lobbyists to file disclosure forms within […]

An investigation done by the Las Vegas Review-Journal this month found little to no oversight or enforcement of Clark County’s lobbying laws.

In addition to listing their clients when they register, current law requires lobbyists to file disclosure forms within five days of meeting with a county commissioner.

The Review-Journal uncovered hundreds of occasions of noncompliance just in 2018. County staff admitted timeliness of lobbyist filings is not tracked, and penalties for late filing and other cases of noncompliance have never been assessed.

In response to the findings, county commissioners have pledged to start enforcing the lobbying provisions and put processes in place to meet its goal of increasing transparency.

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March 8, 2019 •

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Resigns

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson resigned his seat this week after announcing he would plead guilty to federal wire fraud for misusing campaign funds. Nevada Democrats then unanimously elected Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro to replace Atkinson. Cannizzaro, a district attorney […]

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson resigned his seat this week after announcing he would plead guilty to federal wire fraud for misusing campaign funds.

Nevada Democrats then unanimously elected Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro to replace Atkinson.

Cannizzaro, a district attorney in Clark County, will be the first female to serve as Senate Majority leader in Nevada.

Atkinson, who spent 17 years in the Assembly and the Senate, was married to his partner in the state’s first same-sex marriage once legalized in 2014.

A special election to fill Atkinson’s seat has not yet been called.

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March 7, 2019 •

Las Vegas Councilman Resigns

Steve Seroka, Las Vegas City Councilman representing Ward 2, resigned this week effective immediately. No details surrounding has resignation were released. It is now up to the City Council to decide to hold a special election or appoint someone to […]

Steve Seroka, Las Vegas City Councilman representing Ward 2, resigned this week effective immediately.

No details surrounding has resignation were released.

It is now up to the City Council to decide to hold a special election or appoint someone to fill the rest of Seroka’s term ending in 2021.

Sekora, who had been facing a recall effort, was elected in 2017.

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