Bill Text: NH HB392 | 2013 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 9-2)

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2013-11-25 - Committee Report: Refer to Interim Study for Jan 8 (Vote 17-0; Consent Calendar) [HB392 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2013-HB392-Introduced.html

HB 392-FN – AS INTRODUCED

2013 SESSION

13-0242

03/04

HOUSE BILL 392-FN

AN ACT relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.

SPONSORS: Rep. Perry, Straf 3; Rep. Berch, Ches 1; Rep. Weed, Ches 16; Rep. Phillips, Ches 5; Rep. Kidder, Merr 5; Rep. Hoelzel, Rock 3; Rep. M. Mann, Rock 32; Rep.Levesque, Hills 26; Rep. Butler, Carr 7; Sen. Fuller Clark, Dist 21; Sen.Pierce, Dist 5

COMMITTEE: Election Law

ANALYSIS

This bill:

I. Modifies the definition of “political committee.”

II. Requires reporting by political committees of electioneering communication expenditures, as defined in the bill.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

13-0242

03/04

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Thirteen

AN ACT relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Definitions; Political Committee. RSA 664:2, III is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

III. “Political committee” means any organization:

(a) That has as its major purpose to promote the success or defeat of a candidate or candidates or measure or measures and whose combined receipts and expenditures total $2,500 or more in a calendar year for that purpose; or

(b) That makes combined independent expenditures, as defined in paragraph XI, and electioneering communication expenditures, as defined in paragraph XVIII, that total $5,000 or more in a calendar year.

As used in this paragraph, “organization” includes, but is not limited to, a for-profit or nonprofit corporation; limited liability company; association, whether incorporated or unincorporated, for-profit or nonprofit; committee formed by a candidate, exploratory campaign, or political party; natural person or natural persons; department; team; corporation; cooperative; partnership; proprietorship; real estate trust; any entity expressly made exempt from income taxation under the United States Internal Revenue Code; or any other entity with which it is possible to conduct business.

2 Definitions; Expenditure. Amend RSA 664:2, IX to read as follows:

IX. “Expenditure” shall mean the disbursement of money or thing of value or the making of a legally binding commitment to make such a disbursement in the future [for the purpose of influencing the nomination for election or election of any candidate]. It does not include the candidate’s filing fee or his or her expenses for personal travel and subsistence.

3 Definitions; Independent Expenditures. Amend RSA 664:2, XI to read as follows:

XI. “Independent expenditures” means expenditures by a person, political committee, or other entity or organization, as defined in paragraph III, expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or candidates or the success or defeat of a measure or measures which are made without cooperation or consultation with any candidate, or any authorized committee or agent of such candidate, and which are not made in concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate, or any authorized committee or agent of such candidate. As used in this paragraph, “clearly identified” means that the name of the candidate involved appears; a photograph or drawing of the candidate appears; or the identity of the candidate is apparent by unambiguous reference.

4 New Paragraph; Definitions; Electioneering Communication Expenditures. Amend RSA 664:2 by inserting after paragraph XVII the following new paragraph:

XVIII. “Electioneering communication expenditures” means expenditures on any communication that fulfills each of the following conditions:

(a) The communication refers to a clearly identified candidate for state office or refers to a measure without expressly advocating the success or defeat of such candidate or measure;

(b) The communication is publicly broadcasted or distributed during the period from 90 days prior to a primary election through the date of the general election for which office the candidate is seeking or during the 120 days prior to the date on which the measure is being voted; and

(c) The communication is targeted to the relevant electorate.

5 Registration of Political Committees. Amend RSA 664:3, I to read as follows:

I. Any political committee, except the political committee of a political party, shall register with the secretary of state as provided in this section. The [committee shall register with] committee’s registration shall be received by the secretary of state not later than [24] 48 hours after [receiving any contribution in excess of $500 or before making any expenditure in excess of $500, but in no event later than 14 days after the formation of the committee] satisfying the definition of a political committee under RSA 664:2, III. The registration shall be accompanied by an itemized statement of the receipts and expenditures that caused the definition of a political committee to be met. Such itemization shall be made pursuant to the manner set forth in RSA 664:6. The registration shall also be accompanied by a fee of $50, which shall be deposited by the secretary of state into the general fund; provided, however, that the political committee of a candidate which registers under this section shall not be required to pay the $50 fee. Each political committee shall designate a treasurer or agent who is a citizen of this state and who is authorized to receive all process and other legal documents on behalf of the political committee, and through whom may be obtained access to all books and records of the political committee. The political committee shall file with the secretary of state a statement of the purpose of the committee and shall indicate whether the committee will be making independent expenditures [in support of or in opposition to any candidate including] or electioneering communication expenditures. The registration shall also include a statement of the name, address, occupation, and principal place of business of its chairperson and treasurer or agent, and the names and addresses of other officers. The committee shall file an amendment to its registration within 14 days of any change in the officers or purpose of the committee.

I-a. For purposes of this section only, any corporation that has tax exempt status by virtue of being organized under section 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), or 501(c)(6) of the United States Internal Revenue Code is encouraged to, but shall not be required to, disclose receipts on its filings with the secretary of state.

6 New Paragraph; Limitations on Political Expenditures. Amend RSA 664:5-a by inserting after paragraph III the following new paragraph:

IV. This section shall not be construed to limit the amount of contributions that may be made to political committees that solely make independent expenditures and do not make contributions to candidates, campaigns, political parties, or political committees of either candidates or political parties.

7 Reporting by Political Committee. Amend RSA 664:6, I to read as follows:

I. Any political committee, except, for the purposes of this paragraph only, the political committee of a political party or the political committee of a candidate, whose receipts or expenditures [in support of a candidate, measure, or political party] exceed $500 [except, for the purposes of this paragraph only, the political committee of a political party or the political committee of a candidate,] shall file with the secretary of state an itemized statement, signed by its chairman and treasurer showing each of its receipts exceeding $25 with the full name and home post office address of the contributor in alphabetical order and the amount of the contribution, the date it was received, and the aggregate total for each election for each contributor of over $100. The statement shall be filed not later than the Wednesday 12 weeks immediately preceding a primary election, before 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and shall cover the period from the day of the committee registration up to and including the Monday before the statement is due. All receipts of $25 or under shall appear on the statements as unitemized receipts. Any listing which exceeds an individual’s aggregate total of $100 for each election shall be accompanied by the contributor’s occupation including official job title, the name of the contributor’s employer, and the city or town of the contributor’s principal place of business, if any. The statement shall also show each committee expenditure with the full name and city or town of persons, corporations, committees, or to whomever paid or to be paid, the date paid, and the election for which the expenditure was made, with the specific nature and amount of each expenditure since the date of the registration.

I-a. For purposes of this section only, any corporation that has tax exempt status by virtue of being organized under section 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), or 501(c)(6) of the United States Internal Revenue Code is encouraged to, but shall not be required to, disclose receipts on its filings with the secretary of state.

8 Reporting by Political Committee. Amend RSA 664:6, II-a to read as follows:

II-a. A political committee shall file a statement in the same form as in paragraph I with the secretary of state not later than the Wednesday immediately preceding a primary and a general election, before 5 o’clock in the afternoon. The statement shall summarize the statements under paragraphs I and II if such statements are filed and itemize all receipts and expenditures since the cutoff of the statement under paragraph II up until the Monday preceding the filing of the statement under this paragraph. In addition to the reporting requirements contained in this section, the secretary of state shall be notified by the fiscal agent within [24] 48 hours of any contribution exceeding $500 which is received after the statement under this paragraph is filed and prior to the day of election.

9 Reporting by Political Committee. Amend RSA 664:6, IV-a to read as follows:

IV-a. Any political committee whose independent expenditures and electioneering communications, in aggregate, exceed $500 shall file an itemized statement with the secretary of state which shall be received by the secretary of state not later than [24] 48 hours after such expenditures are made, and thereafter each time a further $500 is expended. Such itemized statements shall cover the period during which independent expenditures and electioneering communication expenditures totaling $500 were made. Each statement shall include a certification by the political committee that the independent expenditure or electioneering communication meets the definition in RSA 664:2, XI or RSA664:2, XVIII. Each statement shall contain the date of each independent expenditure or electioneering communication expenditure; the name and address of the person to whom the expenditure was made; the name of the candidate on whose behalf or against whom each independent expenditure was made or the name of the candidate who was referenced in each electioneering communication expenditure; the amount of each expenditure; the purpose of each expenditure, and the aggregate amount of all previous independent expenditures and electioneering communication expenditures. If the independent expenditure is made in support of or [to oppose] in opposition to more than one candidate or if the electioneering communication expenditure depicts or mentions more than one candidate, the statement made under this paragraph shall allocate the way in which the expenditure was made among the candidates on a reasonable basis. For the purposes of this paragraph, “reasonable basis” means a statement which reflects the benefit or the burden reasonably expected to be derived or suffered by each candidate. The filing requirements of this paragraph shall be in addition to all other filing requirements under this section, and shall not be limited to the filing periods during which expenditures must otherwise be reported.

10 New Paragraph; Penalties. Amend RSA 664:21 by inserting after paragraph VI the following new paragraph:

VII.(a) A political committee other than a political committee of a candidate that fails to register in accordance with RSA 664:3 shall be subject to a fine up to 25 percent of the total amount of independent expenditures and electioneering communication expenditures made during the period from the date the political committee was required to register to the date the political committee registered.

(b) A political committee that fails to report independent expenditures or electioneering communication expenditures in accordance with RSA 664:6, IV-a shall be subject to a fine equal to 25 percent of the total amount of independent expenditures not reported or reported late.

11 Effective Date. This act shall take effect upon its passage.

LBAO

13-0242

Revised 01/17/13

HB 392-FN - FISCAL NOTE

AN ACT relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.

FISCAL IMPACT:

The Department of Justice, Judicial Council, Judicial Branch, and New Hampshire Association of Counties state this bill, as introduced, may increase state and county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2013 and each year thereafter. The Department of State states this bill may increase state general fund revenue by an indeterminable amount in FY 2013 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on county and local revenues, or local expenditures.

METHODOLOGY:

This bill modifies the definition of a “political committee” and requires political committees register with and report electioneering communication expenditures to the Department of State. The bill makes violations of these provisions a misdemeanor and creates new penalties. These penalties are: (1) a fine of up to 25 percent of the total amount of independent expenditures and electioneering communication expenditures made during the period from the date the political committee was required to register to the date the political committee actually registered; and (2) a fine equal to 25 percent of the total amount of expenditures not reported or reported late. The Department of State states that, other than serving as a repository for reports mandated by the bill, the Department does not appear to gain any additional responsibility as a result of the bill, and so the bill will have no fiscal impact on Department expenditures. The Department states this bill will increase state general fund revenue by an indeterminable amount in FY 2013 and each year thereafter.

The Department of Justice states it expects to be responsible for enforcing the bill’s provisions, but is unable to estimate the number of investigations and prosecutions that would be generated by the bill. As such, the Department states the bill’s impact on expenditures is indeterminable.

The Judicial Council states the bill could result in a slight increase in indigent defense expenditures, to the extent that class A misdemeanor penalties are sought for violations of the bill and to the extent that those charged are eligible for appointed counsel. If anyone charged with an offense is eligible for appointed counsel, the state would be subject to expenditures of $275 for each case handled by a public defender or contract attorney, and $60 per hour up to a cap of $1,400 for each case handled by assigned counsel. Additional expenses would be incurred if an appeal is filed.

The Judicial Branch states it has no information on which to estimate how many fines or criminal charges will result from the bill. The Branch notes that in the past decade, there have only been two prosecutions at any level for violations of existing laws governing political expenditures, a situation the Branch assumes will remain relatively unchanged by this bill.

The New Hampshire Association of Counties states it cannot predict or determine the number of political committees the bill may impact or the number of violations that may occur. The Association states to the extent more individuals are charged as a result of the bill, the counties may have increased expenditures.

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