Monday, February 8, 2010

Legislative Session

Another week has passed at the legislature, and there has been some motion with election reform bills. With ten days to go, things are sure to heat up.

The ban on campaign contributions from lobbyists and contractors: HB 118 is now known as the committee substitute for HB 118 and moves on to the House Judiciary Committee where it could be heard as early as today.

Same day registration: HB 123 passed House Consumer and Public Affairs and moves to House Voters and Elections, where it is not yet scheduled. Its "companion bill" is Senate Bill 161 (John Sapien), which passed Senate Rules today and moves to Senate Judiciary. An attempt to attach a mandatory photo ID provision failed.

An "independent" redistricting commission resolution has been introduced as HJR 15 (Karen Giannini) and would appear on the November 2010 ballot as a Constitutional Amendment if it passes both houses. The amendment is problematic as written because it creates a commission that is actually bipartisan and not independent, with the members being appointed by the leaders of the legislature.

Rhonda King's continuing effort to resolve the state's purchase of voting machines in 2006 has been introduced as HB 198. It holds the counties harmless for the purchase and maintenance of the machines other than for ongoing storage. It will be heard in House Voters and Elections this week.

Public Campaign Financing: Both bills face uphill journeys on the Senate side. SB 51 (Eric Griego) would create a public campaign financing system for executive positions but has been scheduled to three committees. SB 67 (Feldman) would clarify the Voter Action Act but has not been ruled germane.

State Ethics Commission: There are a number of bills on both sides that address and implement a state Ethics Commission that are awaiting hearings in House Judiciary and Senate Rules Committees. This will almost certainly result in a compromise bill. Loyda Martinez of Common Cause has an opinion piece that outlines the essentials which I have copied below.

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