June 2, 2020 •

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Campaign Finance Law

U.S. Supreme Court Building

United States Supreme Court Building

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case challenging a Montana disclosure law. Specifically, the law requires disclosure of spending for political ads within 60 days of an election. In August 2019, the 9th U.S Circuit […]

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case challenging a Montana disclosure law.

Specifically, the law requires disclosure of spending for political ads within 60 days of an election.

In August 2019, the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Montana’s law requiring nonprofit groups running ads mentioning candidates, political parties or ballot issues in the 60 day window before an election to report any spending of $250 or more and disclose who funded their efforts.

This law is part of the state’s Disclosure Act, while the case was filed by the National Association of Gun Rights in 2016.

In their lawsuit, the group stated they were planning on sending mailers in Montana.

However, they would not report their donors or spending because it violated their constitutional rights of free speech.

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May 21, 2020 •

Alaska Legislature Adjourns Sine Die

Governor Mike Dunleavy

Governor Mike Dunleavy - by The Alaska Landmine

The Alaska Legislature adjourned after approving Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to spend over $1 billion in federal coronavirus funding. Lawmakers were spurred by a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the plans Gov. Dunleavy submitted to the Legislative Budget and Audit […]

The Alaska Legislature adjourned after approving Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to spend over $1 billion in federal coronavirus funding.

Lawmakers were spurred by a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the plans Gov. Dunleavy submitted to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee.

They were submitted through a process allowing a governor to submit plans to accept and spend additional federal or other program funds on a budget item.

In addition, the committee agreed to more than $1 billion in plans despite concerns some of the items fell outside the scope of what can go through the committee process.

Following the vote, the Legislature adjourned the 2020 regular session, though members of the House and Senate have said a special session may be needed later in the year.

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May 18, 2020 •

Wyoming Special Session Ends with Approval of Three Bills

Wyoming Capitol

Wyoming Capitol - By Bradlyons - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Legislature’s first special session since 2004 ended Saturday night with three bills headed to the desk of Gov. Mark Gordon for his consideration. The main task of the special session was to set up programs and time frames for […]

The Legislature’s first special session since 2004 ended Saturday night with three bills headed to the desk of Gov. Mark Gordon for his consideration.

The main task of the special session was to set up programs and time frames for the spending of $1.25 billion Wyoming received through the federal CARES act.

Though Gov. Gordon has the ultimate authority to spend the money, the approved legislation provides a broad outline of where that money will go.

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May 14, 2020 •

California Becomes First State to Mail Ballots to All Voters

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring election officials to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter ahead of the November general election. Newsom acknowledged attempting traditional voting on a mass scale would likely still be too dangerous […]

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring election officials to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter ahead of the November general election.

Newsom acknowledged attempting traditional voting on a mass scale would likely still be too dangerous even in November due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In-person voting is still expected to occur, but the number of people voting at polling places is expected to decline.

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May 13, 2020 •

Wyoming Governor Calls Special Session

Wyoming Gov. Gordon

Gov. Mark Gordon - by MikesGroover

Gov. Mark Gordon called a special session of the Wyoming Legislature to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two day special session will start at 8:00 a.m. on May 15. Lawmakers will gather both online and in the state […]

Gov. Mark Gordon called a special session of the Wyoming Legislature to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two day special session will start at 8:00 a.m. on May 15.

Lawmakers will gather both online and in the state Capitol, which will be open to those legislators who wish to go there, to distribute federal stimulus money to Wyoming businesses, healthcare facilities and workers.

Through four draft bills, lawmakers will determine how to distribute $500 million of the $1.25 billion the state received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March.

In addition, lawmakers are eyeing new programs to provide loans to businesses, recompense landlords for lost rent to halt evictions, and help fund healthcare facilities and other needs.

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May 4, 2020 •

No Limits on Campaign Contributions in Oregon

Oregon Senate Chamber

Oregon Senate Chamber - photo by Cacophony

Oregon political candidates in legislative and statewide races can continue to accept contributions vastly exceeding the caps voters approved in 2006. Secretary of State Bev Clarno announced on Friday she would not allow the 2006 voter approved initiative. The initiative […]

Oregon political candidates in legislative and statewide races can continue to accept contributions vastly exceeding the caps voters approved in 2006.

Secretary of State Bev Clarno announced on Friday she would not allow the 2006 voter approved initiative.

The initiative placed a $1,000 limit on donations to statewide candidates and a $100 limit on contributions to legislative candidates.

Clarno’s office released a statement communicating Measure 47 from 2006 was not made operative by the Oregon Supreme Court decision.

Therefore, there is no change in current state election laws.

Clarno’s decision was based off of a verbal opinion from the Department of Justice.

Also, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Thomas Ryan ruled Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s campaign did not need to limit spending.

The ruling came after a suit filed by Wheeler’s main opponent questioning his use of contributions.

Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone had joined several campaign finance activists in a lawsuit against Wheeler’s campaign.

The lawsuit contends the mayor must repay all the donations he’s received surpassing the $500 campaign finance limit approved by Portland voters in 2018 but never enforced due to legal challenges.

After last week’s Supreme Court ruling, the city auditor’s office will begin enforcing Portland’s campaign finance measure starting today.

However, candidates won’t be retroactively punished for taking large donations.

Portland Attorney Dan Meek said he would ask the state Supreme Court to reconsider its April decision to make it clear Measure 47 should go into effect immediately.

In November, voters will decide on a proposed state constitutional amendment making it clear the state could adopt any limits allowed under the U.S. Constitution.

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April 29, 2020 •

Portland Will Start Enforcing Campaign Contribution Limits

Portland Skyline

In the wake of an Oregon Supreme Court ruling last week overturning long standing precedents declaring campaign contribution limits in Oregon elections unconstitutional, Portland will enforce a voter approved $500 per donor limit starting Monday. The court ruled that contribution […]

In the wake of an Oregon Supreme Court ruling last week overturning long standing precedents declaring campaign contribution limits in Oregon elections unconstitutional, Portland will enforce a voter approved $500 per donor limit starting Monday.

The court ruled that contribution limits do not violate free speech.

However, they asked lower courts to decide if $500 per donor limits, approved first by Multnomah County voters and then by Portland voters, are too low.

Portland city election officials say they’ll begin enforcing the contribution limits after the Oregon Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a Multnomah County Circuit judge’s decision declaring campaign contribution limits in city elections unconstitutional.

However, election officials will not retroactively enforce the limits. Candidates who violate the new donation limits will face fines of up to $3,000 per violation.

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April 23, 2020 •

Oregon Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Campaign Contribution Limits

Oregon State Capitol Building

The Oregon Supreme Court, reversing its longstanding ban on strict campaign finance limits, ruled in favor of a voter approved Multnomah County law putting a $500 limit on campaign donations. The court concluded contribution limits are not invalid under the state […]

The Oregon Supreme Court, reversing its longstanding ban on strict campaign finance limits, ruled in favor of a voter approved Multnomah County law putting a $500 limit on campaign donations.

The court concluded contribution limits are not invalid under the state constitution.

The case has been sent back to a lower court to decide whether Multnomah County’s dollar limits themselves are too low, while tossing out the limits Multnomah County voters set on campaign expenditures.

The ruling could lead to new campaign finance limits throughout the state.

Oregon voters will vote on a proposed constitutional amendment this fall allowing limits on the flow of big money into political campaigns.

Oregon has been one of only a handful of states in the country with no limits on political donations and spending.

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April 10, 2020 •

FPPC Offers Guidance on Lobbying Filing Deadlines in Wake of COVID-19

Sacramento, CA Skyline - Basil D Soufi

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has issued an advisory encouraging people subject to lobbying registration and reporting requirements to continue to make the best efforts to timely file all legally required reports and statements. However, it may be […]

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has issued an advisory encouraging people subject to lobbying registration and reporting requirements to continue to make the best efforts to timely file all legally required reports and statements.

However, it may be difficult for some to file statements and reports given the shelter-in-place order and other issues caused by the pandemic.

If circumstances caused by COVID-19 inhibit the filing of a lobbying report or statement, the filer should communicate these issues to the Office of the Secretary of State and document all attempts to file and the issues faced.

While quarterly lobbying reports are filed electronically, the law requires certain other statements be filed on paper with an original signature.

Restrictions imposed to fight the spread of COVID-19 may make the logistics of filing documents on paper with original signatures difficult or even impossible.

To the extent this is the case, people required to file lobbying forms on paper with original signatures are encouraged to make use of digital and electronic options for filing reports to ensure timely filing.

Paper statements with original signatures will need to be filed when feasible.

If a person with lobbying filing requirements makes best efforts to comply with the Political Reform Act’s lobbying registration and reporting rules but is unable to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FPPC will consider this a strong mitigating factor in determining whether an enforcement action against the person is appropriate.

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April 7, 2020 •

Portland Auditor Extends Lobbyist Filing Deadline

Portland Skyline

The Portland Auditor has temporarily suspended enforcement of lobbying and political consultant reporting requirements for first quarter reports due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The deadline for lobbyist reports covering activity for the period of January 1 to March 31 is […]

The Portland Auditor has temporarily suspended enforcement of lobbying and political consultant reporting requirements for first quarter reports due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The deadline for lobbyist reports covering activity for the period of January 1 to March 31 is extended until June 15.

The auditor’s office will not assess late fees or penalties for failure to:

    • File quarterly reports
    • Submit required updated information
    • Register as a lobbyist or political consultant

Lobbying entities, political consultants, and city officials are encouraged to file reports when they are able to do so.

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April 6, 2020 •

California Legislature Extends Recess to May 4

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California State Capitol Building - Jeff Turner

The California Legislature pushed back a scheduled return to the legislative session by three weeks to give public health officials more time to deal with the coronavirus spreading through the state. The Legislature now is scheduled to reconvene on May […]

The California Legislature pushed back a scheduled return to the legislative session by three weeks to give public health officials more time to deal with the coronavirus spreading through the state.

The Legislature now is scheduled to reconvene on May 4.

Lawmakers had voted unanimously on March 16 to suspend its session until April 13.

The initial decision last month to suspend activities at the state Capitol was unprecedented in California history.

The decision came after legislators grappled for several days to balance public health concerns with the need for action to address the impact of the pandemic.

Both houses quickly passed a $1 billion relief plan on March 16 before putting a halt to all legislative business.

Whether a return in early May will be possible could depend on the state’s success or failure this month in slowing the rate of infection.

Early spring is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for the Legislature, with hundreds of bills considered by policy committees before receiving final votes in either of the two houses by May 31.

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April 6, 2020 •

FPPC Interested Persons Meeting; Disclosure of Political Activity by LLC’s

Sacramento, CA Skyline - Basil D Soufi

Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) staff will hold an interested persons meeting on Monday, April 20, at 10:00 a.m. The purpose of the meeting is to solicit public input regarding legislative and regulatory proposals to enhance disclosure of political activity […]

Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) staff will hold an interested persons meeting on Monday, April 20, at 10:00 a.m.

The purpose of the meeting is to solicit public input regarding legislative and regulatory proposals to enhance disclosure of political activity by limited liability companies (LLCs) in California elections.

Current law enables LLCs to make contributions or independent expenditures solely in the name of the LLC without disclosing any information, or even a way to determine, the source of the funds expended by the LLC and individuals responsible for operating the LLC.

The FPPC is interested in increasing the amount of information available to the public concerning political activity by LLCs.

Regulatory proposals will be considered for adoption or amendment on or after the May 21 meeting.

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April 3, 2020 •

Justices Decline Challenge to Seattle Democracy Vouchers

U.S. Supreme Court Building

United States Supreme Court Building

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to Seattle’s first-in-the-nation democracy voucher program for public financing of political campaigns. The court denied the challenge brought by two local property owners arguing the program violated the First Amendment by forcing them, […]

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to Seattle’s first-in-the-nation democracy voucher program for public financing of political campaigns.

The court denied the challenge brought by two local property owners arguing the program violated the First Amendment by forcing them, through their tax dollars, to support candidates they don’t like.

In 2015, Seattle voters decided to tax themselves $3 million a year in order to receive four $25 vouchers they can donate to participating candidates in city elections.

The state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the voucher program last year.

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April 3, 2020 •

Idaho’s May Primary Election Won’t Be Delayed, Deadline for Absentee Ballots Pushed Back

Idaho Capitol Building - JSquish

Idaho Gov. Brad Little won’t delay the May 19 primary election, but the election will now be all-absentee due to the risk from coronavirus. Secretary of State Lawerence Denney has extended the deadline to submit absentee ballots to June 2. […]

Idaho Gov. Brad Little won’t delay the May 19 primary election, but the election will now be all-absentee due to the risk from coronavirus.

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney has extended the deadline to submit absentee ballots to June 2.

Idahoans will be able register to vote and request an absentee ballot up until 8 p.m. on May 19.

The extension pushes back voters’ deadline to submit ballots to county clerks to 8 p.m. on June 2.

Normally that deadline would have been 8 p.m. May 19.

The Office of the Secretary of State will be sending out absentee ballot requests to every registered voter who has not already requested one.

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