SB 0971 Establishes public campaign financing for legislative and statewide elected officials
LR Number:3553S.01I Fiscal Note:3553-01
Committee:Elections, Veterans' Affairs & Corrections
Last Action:02/14/00 - Referred S Elections, Veterans' Affairs & Corrections Journal page:S224
Effective Date:Upon Voter Approval
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Current Bill Summary

SB 971 - This act creates the public financing of election campaigns beginning in 2002 for all statewide and General Assembly offices, if approved by the voters at the November, 2000, election.

Candidates may participate in public funding in the primary and general election, however, those who participate in the primary must participate in the general election.

The provisions of this act do not affect those who do not choose to participate in public funding.

Candidates seeking public funding for a primary campaign must obtain five-dollar qualifying contributions, as follows:

- For State Representative, 200 qualifying contributions ($1,000); - For State Senator, 500 qualifying contributions ($2,500); - For statewide office, except Governor, 250 qualifying contributions in 6 or more of the nine Congressional Districts ($1,250); - For Governor, 500 qualifying contributions in 6 or more of the nine Congressional Districts ($2,500).

Candidates are also allowed to accept seed money until the beginning of the primary campaign. The contribution can be no more than $100 and must be made by a registered voter. Candidates who qualify for public money may receive funds as follows:

Representative - $30,000, divided between the primary and general election; Senator - $100,000, divided between the primary and general election; Statewide, except Governor - $1,000,000, divided between the primary and general election; Governor - $2,000,000, divided between the primary and general election.

If a candidate or the candidate's party received 15% of the votes for that office in the previous election, the candidate is entitled to full public funding.

Public campaign financing is funded by State appropriation and administered by the State Treasurer. All unexpended balances in the fund at the end of the biennium shall remain in the "Democracy Trust Fund" and not be transferred to General Revenue. There are two subfunds, one of which is used for general campaign financing, and the other is used to provide participating candidates with matching funds if a non-participating candidate is out-spending a participating candidate.

There are special reporting requirements for independent expenditures and when such expenditures are against a participating candidate, the candidate is entitled to additional funds. In dependent expenditures must equal at least 20% of the authorized funding amounts and cannot exceed three times that amount.

The Ethics Commission shall report to the Speaker of the House of Representatives no later than the first day of April in each election year on its needs for the Democracy Trust Fund in the upcoming election. If the Fund does not contain sufficient monies, candidates may raise funds from private contributions to make up the difference.

Incumbent state office holders must declare an intent of mass mailing before using state funds for such purposes after June first of an election year, and their opponents are entitled for additional funds equal to the amount expended. All such mailings must be approved by the Ethics Commission.

This act places a contribution limit of $5,000 per year which a person may contribute to a political party and the party may not contribute to any candidate an amount more than five percent of the total public funding amount for that office.

The Ethics Commission is vested with general enforcement and administrative authority over the provisions of this act. There are civil penalties for violations of this act.

This act is similar to SB 449 (1999).