May 29, 2015 •
The first session of the 104th Legislature adjourned sine die today, May 29, 2015, on the 89th day of the scheduled 90-day session. Senators passed 272 bills into law, including an $8.7 billion two-year budget. The second session of the […]
The first session of the 104th Legislature adjourned sine die today, May 29, 2015, on the 89th day of the scheduled 90-day session.
Senators passed 272 bills into law, including an $8.7 billion two-year budget.
The second session of the 104th Legislature is scheduled to convene on January 6, 2016.
February 23, 2015 •
Mayor Chris Beutler’s campaign fundraising tactics have come under scrutinty by watchdog groups decrying pay-to-play politics. During the 2013 construction of the Pinnacle Bank Arena, a $186 million project, the mayor accepted contributions from individuals and companies with city contracts, […]
Mayor Chris Beutler’s campaign fundraising tactics have come under scrutinty by watchdog groups decrying pay-to-play politics.
During the 2013 construction of the Pinnacle Bank Arena, a $186 million project, the mayor accepted contributions from individuals and companies with city contracts, many with connections to the city-financed arena.
Campaign finance reports show contributions from arena-related companies continued throughout 2014 as well. This practice, however, is not illegal in Lincoln.
Proponents of tougher pay-to-play laws believe restrictions are more important at the local level, arguing smaller contributions buy greater influence in city races compared to state or federal campaigns.
Mayor Beutler is up for reelection this May.
Photo of Mayor Chris Beutler by Lincolnearthday on Wikimedia Commons.
January 7, 2013 •
Two senators announce intention to introduce bills
Two lawmakers have announced their intention to introduce campaign finance bills this session. Senator Bill Avery plans to introduce legislation lowering the threshold amount to trigger campaign finance reports from $250 to $100. Senator Avery’s bill would additionally use the amount remaining in the fund created by the Campaign Finance Limitation Act, which was ruled unconstitutional by the Nebraska Supreme Court, to create an online system for filing campaign finance disclosure reports.
Senator Steve Lathrop intends to introduce a bill that would require nonprofits to report their expenditures on political advertising. He argues that nonprofits involved in the election process should be subject to the same rules as other groups required to report their spending.
October 3, 2012 •
First Amendment challenges a common thread
With the November elections on the horizon, a number of lawsuits have been filed by potential campaign contributors seeking to determine the constitutionality of their states’ campaign finance laws. The following states have seen campaign finance laws invalidated in August.
In Nebraska, the state supreme court held the Campaign Finance Limitation Act (CFLA) unconstitutional. The CFLA allowed candidates participating in the public financing program to receive additional public funds if their privately-funded opponents exceeded certain spending limits. The court also struck down the CFLA’s aggregate contribution limits and rules governing acceptance of contributions from independent groups after the court determined the public financing portion of the CFLA was not severable from the rest of the law.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Ohio’s ban on political contributions to candidates for state attorney general or county prosecutor from doctors who treat Medicaid patients unconstitutional. The provision was designed to prevent fraud by banning contributions to those officials who prosecute Medicaid fraud, but the court held the prohibition a violation of doctors’ free speech rights.
In Florida, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of Florida’s $100 per election contribution limit for persons 17 and under, holding the law an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights. Florida allows persons aged 18 and over to contribute $500 per election.
A federal judge in West Virginia granted a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of West Virginia’s $1,000-per-election limit on contributions to independent expenditure PACs, on the grounds that the limit chills First Amendment free speech rights. The injunction will remain in place pending a final resolution of the case.
Finally, in Colorado, a federal judge invalidated several campaign finance rule changes made by the secretary of state. The rules struck down include one providing that organizations are only subject to reporting requirements if more than 30 percent of their spending was for or against a ballot issue, and one limiting penalties for certain campaign finance violations. The secretary of state’s rule defining electioneering communications was upheld. Two additional rules await a decision.
August 3, 2012 •
Provisions regarding contribution limits also invalidated
The state supreme court has held Nebraska’s Campaign Finance Limitation Act (CFLA) unconstitutional. The CFLA allowed candidates participating in the public financing program to receive additional public funds if their privately-funded opponents exceeded certain spending limits.
The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission issued a statement in August 2011 that it would not enforce the CFLA for the 2012 elections after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a similar Arizona law. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning then filed an action asking the state supreme court to rule on the CFLA’s constitutionality.
The supreme court also determined that the public financing portion of the CFLA was not severable from the other provisions of the law, including those providing for aggregate contribution limits and rules governing acceptance of contributions from independent groups, and declared the entire law unconstitutional.
March 2, 2012 •
“Fair Fight” Rule Not Enforced Since August
The Nebraska Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments concerning the state’s “fair fight” campaign finance law on Wednesday, March 7, 2012.
The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission voted unanimously in August to stop enforcement of the 1992 law aimed at leveling the playing field in state political races following a United States Supreme Court decision concerning the state of Arizona where a similar law was deemed unconstitutional.
Under the law, candidates could qualify for “fair fight” money from the state if they adhered to voluntary spending limits and their opponent had exceeded such limits.
November 23, 2011 •
Legislature in Special Session Since November 1
The special session of the Nebraska Legislature adjourned sine die on November 22, 2011.
The session, which began November 1, 2011, concerned the Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline project’s intended route through the state. The special session was called by Governor Dave Heinemen to focus on proposed bills intended to reroute the pipeline around a region of the state rich in groundwater. As a result of the session, two measures in relation to the pipeline were passed.
For more information about the measures passed and the special session, you can read the Legislature’s official news release, “Two pipeline measures approved; Legislature adjourns” on the Unicameral Update page.
Photo of the Nebraska Legislative Chamber by ensignbeedrill on Wikipedia.
October 26, 2011 •
Special Session to Focus on Oil Pipeline to Run through State
Governor Dave Heinemen has called for a special session of the Nebraska Legislature to focus on proposed bills intended to reroute the Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline around a region of the state rich in groundwater. The session is scheduled to begin November 1, 2011, and is expected to last at least two weeks.
The call for a special session comes after weeks of debate as to whether such a session was necessary, as well as whether passing legislation pertaining to the pipeline would be constitutional and legal at this point in the process of planning the project.
For more information, you can read “Gov. calls for pipeline session” by Paul Hammel in the Omaha World-Herald.
Photo of the Nebraska Legislature Chamber by ensignbeedrill on Wikipedia.
September 6, 2011 •
Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission Decides Fund Passes Legal Muster
The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission has voted to approve the creation of the proposed First Spouse’s Fund to benefit the spouse of the state’s governor.
The Commission voted 7-1 to approve an advisory opinion concerning the legality of collecting private donations to cover expenses of the governor’s spouse.
The fund is designed to reimburse the spouse of the governor for expenses incurred as a result of his or her position as first spouse, while also ensuring there is no conflict with Nebraska gift and contribution laws.
August 30, 2011 •
Nebraska to Cease Enforcement of “Fair Fight” Campaign Statute
The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission voted unanimously Friday to stop enforcement of a 1992 law aimed at leveling the playing field in state political races. This decision stems from the recent United States Supreme Court decision concerning the state of Arizona where a similar law was deemed unconstitutional.
Under Nebraska’s law, candidates could qualify for “fair fight” money from the state if they adhered to voluntary spending limits and their opponent had exceeded such limits.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who had recently opined the law would be found unconstitutional if challenged in court, will have 10 days to file suit once the Commission officially notifies his office of the refusal to enforce the law, as is required in Nebraska any time a state agency refuses to enforce a law.
Photo of the Nebraska State Capitol by Decumanus on Wikipedia.
March 29, 2011 •
Legislative Bill 606 has advanced past the first of three votes necessary for the measure to become law.
LB 606 would require any person who makes an electioneering communication in the amount of more than $250 to file a report of the electioneering communication with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, similar to the requirements for those making independent expenditures.
Further, the measure would require a corporation, labor organization, or business association making an electioneering communication with a value of more than $250 to file a report with the Commission including the nature, date, and value of the electioneering communication, as well as the name of the candidate identified in the electioneering communication.
Finally, the term ‘electioneering communication’ would be defined to mean any communication referring to a clearly identified candidate, is publicly distributed in the 30 days before an election, and is directed to the electorate of the office sought by the clearly identified candidate, while also noting ‘electioneering communication’ would not include a contribution or expenditure, a communication by media, a candidate debate, or a communication by a membership organization to the organization’s members.
Photo of the Nebraska State Capitol by Decumanus on Wikipedia.