2013 Legislative Update
Posted on Jul 3, 2013 in Main
Governor Neil Abercrombie signed S.B. 30 (Act 63) into law on April 30, 2013. Act 63 takes effect as of the signing date and amends Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) §11-423(b) to require candidates to file the affidavit to abide by statutory expenditure limits no later than the time to file nomination papers. This timeline is contained in HRS §12-6(e) and was provided for in the prior campaign spending law (HRS §11-208(c) (2009 Replacement)). This allows the Commission to better implement the partial public financing program and achieve compliance with state election laws. Act 63 also amends the expenditure limits provided in subsection (d) of HRS §11-423 by adding “prosecuting attorney” to paragraph (4) thereby permitting the prosecuting attorney, along with state senators, state representatives, and county council members participating in the partial public financing program, to spend $1.40 multiplied by the number of registered voters in the voting district. This amendment reinstates language deleted by Act 203, SLH 2005 which forced the Commission to place the prosecuting attorney in the “all other offices” category of spending limit (i.e., 20 cents multiplied by the number of registered voters in the voting district) which seemed unreasonable given the fact that the prosecuting attorney is a county-wide office.
Governor Neil Abercrombie signed S.B. 31 (Act 111) into law on June 14, 2013. Act 111 takes effect as of the signing date and amends HRS §11-335 (noncandidate committee reports) by separating the reporting of contributions into contributions received and contributions made by noncandidate committees, and requiring noncandidate committees to identify the candidate supported or opposed by the committees’ independent expenditures. This will align the statute with the reality that noncandidate committees both make and receive contributions and report them, and to promote transparency of spending on independent expenditures.
Act 111 also amends HRS §11-336 (time for noncandidate committee to file preliminary, final, and supplemental reports) to more clearly align the law with present practice. Presently, every noncandidate committee files the Supplemental Report that is due on January 31st every year and not just on January 31st after an election year. This bill does not require an additional or new report. That is, under the Commission’s electronic filing system, every noncandidate committee (as well as every candidate) files the Supplemental Report on January 31st of every year. This bill would simply align the law with present practice by deleting “after an election year” from the statutory provision and provide that the Supplemental Report is due on “January 31 of each year.”
The Commission proposed a bill (H.B. No. 201) that, in addition to the amendment to HRS §11-336 set forth in Act 111 concerning the January 31stSupplemental Report filed by noncandidate committees, would have made the same amendment to the Supplemental Report filed by candidate committees in HRS §11-334 (time for candidate committee to file preliminary, final, and supplemental reports). The Commission’s proposal was not passed by the Legislature this session, but we will continue our efforts in the next session to seek passage of the amendment for candidate committees to ensure that all entities that are required to file disclosure reports with the Commission file the January 31st Supplemental Report each and every year.
Governor Neil Abercrombie signed H.B. 1147 (Act 112) into law on June 14, 2013. Act 112 substantially enhances disclosure requirements pertaining to noncandidate committees and thus further promotes transparency in the campaign finance process. For instance, Act 112 adds a new section to HRS chapter 11 that requires a SuperPac (that is, a noncandidate committee that solely makes independent expenditures) to identify up to three top contributors to the SuperPac’s political advertisement in the advertisement itself. If the SuperPac cannot identify any top contributors to its advertisement, then the SuperPac must disclose its three top contributors in general. A “top contributor” is defined as a contributor who has contributed in the aggregate $10,000 or more to the Super Pac.
Act 112 requires the filing of a new report called the Late Expenditure Report. Section 6 amends HRS §11-337 by requiring candidates and noncandidate committees to report expenditures that are rendered during the last three days prior an election in a late expenditure report as provided in HRS §11-338. Section 7 amends §11-338 by requiring SuperPacs to report expenditures that aggregate more than $500 within the period between fourteen and four calendar days prior to an election to file a late expenditure report with the commission on the third calendar day prior to the election.
Section 9 amends HRS §11-341 (Electioneering Communications). This amendment increases the information that needs to be disclosed in the statement of information filed with the Commission. The statement must identify the names and titles of the executives or board of directors who authorized the expenditure for the electioneering communication as well as the state of formation and address of the noncandidate committee, business entity, or organization that made the expenditure. If an individual made the expenditure, the occupation and employer of the individual must be disclosed. Section 9 also expends the definition of “electioneering communication” by adding advertisements conveyed “by electronic means.” Similarly, section 10 of the bill amends HRS §11-391 (Advertisements) by expressly including advertisements conveyed “by electronic means.”
Act 112 requires that information contained in disclosure reports be made available to the public on the Commission’s website in a searchable database which the Commission has provided on its website to all users and the public.
Lastly, section 11 repeals HRS §11-332 which enacted the corporate reporting system. The noncandidate committee reporting system (HRS §11-335) already includes corporations that incur expenditures exceeding $1,000 in an election period and that reporting system requires more disclosure than did the corporate reporting system.
Finally, the effective date of the Act is November 5, 2014, the day after the 2014 general election. Therefore, existing law will apply to the 2014 elections.