Thursday, July 8, 2010

New laws on campaign spending and elections

The Campaign Spending Commission provided the following from their latest newsletter on 2010 legislation, now law, related to the elections process and campaign financing:

HB 2003/Act 211 - recodifies the campaign finance laws and is effective upon approval.

The recodification was the Commission’s top priority because the laws were first enacted in 1973 and “numerous amendments (were) made to the campaign finance laws in a piecemeal fashion and, apparently, with little regard to the laws as a whole. The resulting laws are unorganized, difficult to read, and inconsistent in some areas.”

Act 211 organizes the laws into a new part of chapter 11, with ten subparts. Long and involved sections are divided into shorter sections with clear titles for quick reference. All the laws on one subject are grouped together, in contrast to the prior statutes that required a reader to search through the entire subpart for laws that may apply to that one subject.

Act 211 has other provisions including the following that: clarify the treatment of ballot issue committees by adding a new definition and amending an existing statute relating to enforcement; clarify several statutes by removing references to “penalties” and replacing them with the term “fines” and clarify that the Commission has discretion regarding fines; changes the limit for nonresident contributions from 20 percent per reporting period to 30 percent in the election period; permit a candidate to donate to a public school or public library up to twice the candidate’s contribution limit; and provide transparency for corporate contributions by requiring that reports be filed starting with the reporting period beginning on January 1, 2011.

HB2397/Act 126 moves the primary election date to the second Saturday in August from the second Saturday in September and the filing deadline at the Elections Office to the first Tuesday in June. This act is effective on January 1, 2011.

HB1985/Act 59 removes the state income tax deduction for certain campaign contributions, effective January 1, 2011.

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