Delegate Tim Miley selected
Delegate Tim Miley was selected as the new Speaker of the House during a special session of the West Virginia House of Delegates on June 18. Former delegate and Speaker of the House Rick Thompson resigned his post to become the new cabinet secretary for the Department of Veterans Assistance. Del. Miley will preside as Speaker until the end of 2014.
Photo of the West Virginia State Capitol Building by Analogue Kid on Wikipedia.
Bill could be placed on November ballot where voters will have final say
The Seattle City Council has been discussing the idea of publicly financing campaigns and soon the decision could be in the hands of the voters. The City Council has been publicly studying the idea of reintroducing public financing for city elections since the beginning of the year. And on Monday, a bill was officially introduced, which if passed would allow the voters to decide on the issue.
Seattle, and the state of Washington, has had a long and winding history with publicly financing campaigns. Seattle had partial public financing in 1979 and 1981 and again from 1987-1991. In 1992, the state passed an initiative prohibiting public financing of campaigns. In 2008, the state somewhat reversed course and a passed a law allowing cities to enact public financing, but only if approved by a public vote and only if the funding is derived from local sources.
Fast forward to June 2013 and the City Council has introduced a bill to reenact public financing under the form of a six year tax levy. In short, under the plan, candidates could opt into the public financing system where they would receive six dollars for every one dollar raised.
To qualify for the maximum amount of allowable funds, $105,000 for the primary and an additional $105,000 for the general election, candidates would have to receive contributions from 600 residents of at least $10 each. The candidate’s spending would be limited to $140,000 for the primary and $245,000 for the primary and general elections combined.
The City Council is expected to pass the measure fairly easily. The proposal would then be placed on the November ballot and the city’s voters will decide whether Seattle will once again have public financing of its campaigns.
Corporations and non-candidate committees will now file the January supplemental report annually
On Friday night, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie changed the way non-candidate committees, corporations, and all other associations active in elections report their political spending by signing Senate Bill 31 into law. The bill, which will go into effect immediately, requires the aforementioned groups to file a supplemental report on January 31 of every year. Currently, those groups are only required to file a January 31 supplemental report in years following an election.
The bill also requires the reports to make a distinction between the aggregate amount of contributions received and contributions made. Currently, the law just requires the groups to include the amount of contributions, with no distinction made between those received and made.
Abercrombie has been busy signing and vetoing bills since the Legislature adjourned on May 2 and he has until July 8 to act on the remaining ones.
Photo of Gov. Neil Abercrombie courtesy of the governor on Wikipedia.
State and Federal Communications’ Client Specialist Nola Werren discusses the recent trend in lobbyist contributions to charities at the behest of lawmakers
In a recent article published by the Center for Public Integrity, State and Federal Communications’ own Nola Werren is quoted on her research regarding the recent trend in lobbyist contributions to non-profit organizations made at the behest of lawmakers. According to Werren, charitable giving by corporate donors and lobbyists at the urging of lawmakers has become increasingly common in the past several years.
State and Federal Communications provides corporate clients with information about state lobbying, campaign finance, and procurement laws. Werren, a client specialist for the company, observes that behested contributions serve as a deviation from the traditional means by which lobbyists ingratiate themselves with lawmakers via gifts and political contributions.
However, she addresses that the behested contributions also provide a ”win-win situation” for all parties involved: the non-profit organization receives the much needed charitable donation; the lawmaker is praised for his or her philanthropic efforts; and the corporate donors and lobbyists foster goodwill with the lawmaker.
As might be expected, the law regarding behested payments varies from state to state. Currently, only New York and Maryland prohibit such practice. California is the only known state to require disclosure by lawmakers, and only 14 states require lobbyists to disclose the behested donations. State and Federal Communications, Werren says, has received such a significant number of inquiries from clients about rules governing such payments that it decided to research the various state laws and will continue to update its findings as changes occur.
Prohibition on corporate contributions remains intact
A federal appellate court ruled both in favor and against Iowa’s campaign finance law in regard to independent expenditures and corporate spending on Thursday. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state’s law requiring groups making independent expenditures to disclose information about their spending but struck down the part of the law requiring those same groups to also file supplemental disclosures.
Under the current law, if a group spends more than $750 in the aggregate on independent expenditures, it must file a report within 48 hours. It also requires those same groups to file a supplemental report, due on the 19th of January, May, July, and October, if the group has made more than $1,000 in expenditures. These supplemental reports were held to be “additional, redundant and more burdensome” and were struck down.
Another aspect of the law challenged was the state’s ban on corporations giving money directly from their general treasuries. The court upheld this ban on corporate contributions, saying it “serves the purpose of preventing quid pro quo corruption or the appearance of such corruption.” Further, the court held corporations may still spend money on elections by forming political action committees.
The court also ruled the wording of two provisions requiring groups to certify that their board of directors approved their election spending before they can make the expenditures is unconstitutional as written. However, the court sent that issue back to the trial court to determine if the state can remove a few words to make the provisions constitutional.
It is not clear at this point how the state plans to proceed. It can accept the appellate court’s ruling or it could appeal the decision. Regardless of their decision, at this point in time, the requirement to file the supplemental reports for independent expenditure committees does not exist.
City Commission will take up proposals July 10
Tallahassee’s Ethics Advisory Panel, a citizen group created last November to review the city’s ethics policies, is recommending creating a position of ethics officer.
Whether to make the position an appointed one was the only issue the panel could not agree on unanimously, with two of the panel’s seven members voting against appointment. The panel is debating where in the city government to place the position, while the city attorney’s office is looking into whether a charter amendment is necessary to create another appointed position.
The panel will hold a final review of its recommendations, including creating an ethics hotline and ethics training for employees, on June 26. The City Commission plans to discuss the recommendations July 10.
July 11, 2013
ElectionsBC announced a by-election will be held on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, to elect a Member of the Legislative Assembly (M.L.A.) for the Westside-Kelowna electoral district.
A by-election is called when a seat becomes vacant in the Legislative Assembly. The legislative position became available when Westside-Kelowna M.L.A. Ben Stewart resigned on June 11, 2013.