Author

Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jerrick.adams@ballotpedia.org

A look at donor disclosure requirements for electioneering communications

As the year gets underway, and lawmakers nationwide take up bills on donor disclosure, let’s take a closer look at a particular policy area: donor disclosure requirements for groups that sponsor electioneering communications.

Broadly speaking, an electioneering communication is any broadcast, cable, or satellite transmission that refers to a clearly identified candidate within a specified time period preceding a primary or general election. Although electioneering communications refer to a specific candidate, they do not explicitly advocate for that candidate’s election or defeat. This makes an electioneering communication a form of issue advocacy.

Individuals, corporations, labor unions, and nonprofit groups can produce electioneering communications. Generally, the policies regulating the use of electioneering communications vary from state to state (although federal laws apply to electioneering communications used in federal elections).

The first map below indicates which states require entities making electioneering communications to disclose the names of their donors to the public. States shaded in dark green require general disclosure of all donors to a sponsor group. States shaded in light green require disclosure only of those donors whose contributions were earmarked for electioneering purposes. Twenty-two states require groups issuing electioneering communications to make some form of disclosure.

The second map below indicates which states exempt 501(c)(3) groups from these disclosure requirements. States shaded in dark green provide a 501(c)(3) exemption. States shaded in gray do not. Six states provide explicit disclosure exemptions for at least some types of 501(c)(3) groups.

Electioneering communications donor disclosure.png
501c3 exemptions.png

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 35 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Disclosure Digest map January 20, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart January 20, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Disclosure Digest partisan chart January 20, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Iowa HF697: This bill would prohibit public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to furnish them with personal information about donors.
    • Hearing scheduled for Jan. 22.
  • Oklahoma SB1491: This bill would prohibit public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to furnish them with personal information about donors.
    • Pre-filed to be introduced Feb. 3.
  • Virginia HB849: This bill would subject political campaign communications made via online platforms to the same disclosure requirements currently applied to print media, television, and radio advertisements.
    • Hearing scheduled for Jan. 17.


Maine professor asks Supreme Court to strike down exclusive representation requirement

On Jan. 2, 2020, a professor at the University of Maine filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that it overturn a Maine law compelling public-sector employees to accept a union’s representation regardless of their membership status with that union (i.e., exclusive representation).

Who are the parties to the suit? The plaintiff is Jonathan Reisman, an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias. He is being represented by attorneys from The Buckeye Institute, an Ohio-based think tank, and BakerHostetler, a Washington, D.C. law firm. The defendants include Reisman’s union, the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine, the University of Maine and its board of trustees, and the state of Maine. The Associated Faculties of the University of Maine, an affiliate of the National Education Association, represents about 1,000 faculty members.

What is at issue? Reisman argues that Maine’s exclusive representation law violates his First Amendment free-speech and associational rights. Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute and a lead attorney for Reisman, said, “If state law cannot compel public employees to financially support union advocacy — as the [Supreme Court] ruled in Janus v. AFSCME — how can states require these same public employees to accept representation from unions that many of them have chosen not to join?”

How have the lower courts ruled in this matter? On Dec. 3, 2018, Judge Jon Levy, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, dismissed the case. Levy said, “[By] authorizing the union, in its role as the agent for the bargaining unit, to negotiate with the board on matters related to the terms and conditions of employment, the act does not cloak the union with the authority to speak on issues of public concern on behalf of employees, such as Reisman, who do not belong to the union. Reisman remains free to speak out in opposition to the union and its positions as he sees fit. His constitutional challenge to the act thus rests on a fundamental misconception.”

Reisman appealed Levy’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. A three-judge panel, comprising Judges O. Rogeriee Thompson, Bruce Marshall Selya, and David Barron, heard the appeal. On Oct. 4, 2019, the panel voted unanimously to affirm Levy’s dismissal. Barron, writing for the court, said, “Considered in context … § 1025(2)(E) [the challenged law] is not properly read to designate AFUM as Reisman’s personal representative, as he contends. Rather, that provision merely makes clear that a union, once it becomes the exclusive bargaining agent for a bargaining unit, must represent the unit as an entity, and not only certain of the employees within it, and then solely for the purposes of collective bargaining.”

  • Levy, Thompson, and Barron were appointed to their positions by President Barack Obama (D). Selya was appointed by President Ronald Reagan (R)

What comes next? In a press release announcing the appeal, Andrew Grossman, counsel of record for Reisman, said, “Following the Court’s landmark Janus ruling, it is clear that these [exclusive representation] laws are unconstitutional, and we hope the Court will recognize them as such.” The formal appeal, known as a petition for writ of certiorari, can be read here. The opposing parties have 30 days to file a brief in response. On average, the court acts on an appeal within about six weeks of its filing.

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 58 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map January 17, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart January 17, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Union Station partisan chart January 17, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Kentucky HB231: This bill would allow public-sector employees to form, join, and assist labor unions.
    • Referred to House State Government Committee Jan. 13.
  • Kentucky HB251: This bill would eliminate existing state laws restricting the rights of public-sector employees to form, join, and participate in unions. This bill would allow public employers to make agreements with labor unions requiring union membership as a condition of employment.
    • Introduced Jan. 13; referred to House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee Jan. 15.
  • Maine LD900: This bill authorizes certain classes of public-sector employees to strike.
    • Hearing scheduled Jan. 15.
  • Pennsylvania HB785: This bill would require public employers to inform non-union employees and new employees that they do not have to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment
    • Removed from table Jan. 14.
  • Tennessee HJR0687: This bill proposes a constitutional amendment making it unlawful for the state and any of its subdivisions, as well as any person, corporation, or association, to make union participation a condition of employment.
    • Introduced and referred to House Consumer and Human Resources Committee Jan. 14.
  • Vermont H0700: This bill would require employers to provide unions with employee contact information. It would provide for automatic deduction of union dues from members’ paychecks. It would allow unions to meet with new employees to provide them with information about union membership. It would also prohibit recipients of state funds from interfering with union organizing efforts.
    • Introduced and referred to House General, House, and Military Affairs Committee Jan. 15; hearing scheduled Jan. 16.
  • Virginia SB939: This bill would permit local governments to recognize unions as bargaining agents for public-sector workers.
    • Introduced and referred to Senate Labor and Commerce Committee Jan. 13.
  • Washington HB1333: This bill would alter the definition of a public employee under the state’s public employee’s collective bargaining law.
    • Reintroduced and retained in present status Jan. 13.
  • Washington HB1452: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the legislative branch of state government.
    • Reintroduced and retained in present status Jan. 13.
  • Washington HB1845: This bill would establish that payroll deduction authorizations must be made directly by employees to employers on at least a biannual basis.
    • Reintroduced and retained in present status Jan. 13.
  • Washington HB2017: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for administrative law judges.
    • Reintroduced and retained in present status Jan. 13.
  • Washington SB5623: This bill would declare that public employers and public-sector unions are not liable for claims involving agency fees paid to unions prior to Janus.
    • Reintroduced and retained in present status Jan. 13.
  • Washington SB5691: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the legislative branch of state government.
    • Reintroduced and retained in present status Jan. 13.
  • Washington SB6224: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for administrative law judges.
    • Reintroduced and retained in present status Jan. 13.


Missouri Supreme Court strikes down law requiring voters without photo ID to sign affidavits

On January 14, 2020, the Missouri Supreme Court, in a 5-2 ruling, upheld a lower court’s decision striking down a state law that required voters without photo ID to sign affidavits before voting. Consequently, voters in Missouri may present either photo or non-photo identification at the polls and cast regular ballots without signing affidavits.

On October 9, 2018, Richard Callahan, a state court judge, originally enjoined the affidavit provision. Callahan found that the affidavit’s language was “contradictory and misleading,” requiring signers to “swear that they do not possess a form of personal identification approved for voting while simultaneously presenting to the election authority a form of personal identification that is approved.” Callahan ordered officials to desist from executing the affidavit for voters presenting non-photo ID at the polls. Callahan also ordered officials not to distribute any materials indicating that a photo ID is required to vote. State officials appealed the decision and asked the state supreme court to stay Callahan’s order. On October 19, 2018, the state supreme court denied the request for a stay, but permitted the appeal to proceed. This allowed Callahan’s order to stand in advance of the November 6, 2018, election.

The state supreme court heard oral arguments in the appeal in October 2019. Justice Mary Russell penned the court’s opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice George Draper and Justices Paul Wilson, Patricia Breckenridge, and Laura Stith. Justices Wesley Powell and Zel Fischer dissented. Russell wrote, “Because the affidavit requirement of sections 115.427.2(1) and 115.427.3 is misleading and contradictory, the circuit court’s judgment declaring the affidavit requirement unconstitutional is affirmed. Further, the circuit court did not err in enjoining the State from requiring individuals who vote under the non-photo identification option provided in section 115.427.2(1) to execute the affidavit or in enjoining it from disseminating materials indicating photo identification is required to vote.”

Powell, joined by Fischer, wrote the following in his dissent: “If the affidavit requirement set forth in section 155.4271 is ambiguous, contradictory, and unconstitutional as the principal opinion proclaims, the opinion errs in severing the entire affidavit requirement without also severing the non-photo identification option set out in section 115.427.2 in its entirety. Because the legislature would not have enacted the non-photo identification option without an accompanying affidavit requirement, the principal opinion’s remedy is contrary to law.”

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
Voter identification laws by state
Election governance in Missouri 



Donor disclosure legislation in 2019: the year in review

This month, legislative sessions in 37 states either have convened or will convene. Another six will convene in February. But before we embark on our weekly journey through the 2020 legislative sessions, let’s take a look back on 2019.

Legislatures in 33 states considered 74 donor disclosure bills in 2019. New York led the way with 10 bills, 13.5 percent of the total. The following states each considered at least two donor disclosure bills in 2019:

  • Minnesota and Missouri: 5 each
  • Connecticut: 4
  • Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, and Washington: 3 each
  • Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia: 2 each.

Democrats sponsored 35 bills – 47.3 percent of the total. Republicans sponsored 22 bills, or 29.7 percent of the total. The remainder were sponsored either on a bipartisan basis or by committees.

These 16 bills, 21.6 percent of the total, were enacted:

  • Colorado SB068: Expands the definition of an electioneering communication for the purposes of campaign finance disclosure.
  • Georgia SB213: Adjusts contribution thresholds triggering disclosure requirements
  • Idaho S1113: Expands existing disclosure requirements to local elections and campaigns.
  • Mississippi HB1205: Prohibits public agencies from requiring or releasing certain personal information from entities organized under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • New Hampshire SB105: Establishes disclosure requirements for certain contributions made to inaugural committees.
  • New Jersey S1500: Requires disclosure of donors to 501(c)(4)s, super PACs, and other similar entities who contribute $10,000 or more.
  • New Mexico SB3: Expands disclosure requirements for groups making independent expenditures for political purposes.
  • North Dakota HB1037: Re-enacts previously rescinded disclosure requirements for contributions made to ballot measure campaigns.
  • South Dakota SB114: Requires that campaign contributions by minors be attributed to their parents for campaign finance disclosure and reporting purposes.
  • Utah HB0131: Requires political issues committees to disclose certain contributions within three days of receipt.
  • Utah HB0319: Establishes disclosure requirements for entities spending money on ballot proposition advertisements.
  • Virginia HB1719: Extends the provisions of the state’s Campaign Finance Disclosure Act to candidates for local office who accept contributions or make expenditures in excess of $25,000.
  • Washington HB1379: Amends a state law requiring that entities producing political advertisements publicly disclose their top five donors.
  • West Virginia SB622: Makes general revisions to the state’s campaign finance disclosure laws.
  • Wyoming SF0018: Makes general revisions to the state’s campaign finance and disclosure laws.

One bill was vetoed in 2019: New Hampshire SB156, which would have required that political contributions from limited liability companies be allocated to individual members in order to determine whether individuals have exceeded contribution limits. The remaining 57 bills (77.0 percent of the total) either died at the end of 2019 or were carried over to 2020 sessions.

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 34 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Disclosure Digest map January 13, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart January 13, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Disclosure Digest partisan chart January 13, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Michigan SB0704: This bill would require that an independent or political committee making contributions to the campaign committee of a judge or supreme court justice disclose (a) whether that committee is primarily funded by a limited liability company and, (b), if so, the name and address of that company.
    • Introduced and referred to Senate Elections Committee Jan. 8.
  • New Hampshire HB1525: This bill would alter the definition of a political advocacy organization for the purposes of campaign finance reporting.
    • Introduced and referred to House Election Law Committee Jan. 8.
  • New York A01822: This bill would regulate disclosure requirements for contributions facilitated by intermediaries.
    • Referred to Assembly Election Law Committee Jan. 8.
  • New York A03450: This bill would establish disclosure regulations for campaign contributions made via text message.
    • Referred to Assembly Election Law Committee Jan. 8.
  • New York A03727: This bill would establish disclosure requirements for certain political contributions from elected statewide officials, state legislators, and New York City officials.
    • Referred to Assembly Governmental Operations Committee Jan. 8.
  • New York A05490: This bill would establish disclosure requirements for inaugural and transition committees.
    • Referred to Assembly Election Law Committee Jan. 8.
  • New York S00488: This bill would regulate disclosure requirements for contributions facilitated by intermediaries.
    • Referred to Senate Elections Committee Jan. 8.
  • New York S02334: This bill would regulate disclosure requirements for contributions facilitated by intermediaries.
    • Referred to Senate Elections Committee Jan. 8.
  • New York S02967: This bill would require district attorney candidates to disclose to the board of elections any contributions received from law firms or attorneys representing defendants in criminal proceedings in any court in the state.
    • Referred to Senate Elections Committee Jan. 8.
  • New York S03073: This bill would require campaign finance reports to include information on contributors’ occupations and, in select cases, contributors’ employers’ information.
    • Referred to Senate Elections Committee Jan. 8.
  • Virginia HB849: This bill would subject political campaign communications made via online platforms to the same disclosure requirements currently applied to print media, television, and radio advertisements.
    • Introduced and referred to House Committee on Privileges and Elections Jan. 8.
  • West Virginia HB4073: This bill would require any caucus committee to disclose the receipt of all contributions, including sources and amounts, within five days of receipt when the contribution occurs during any legislative session.
    • Introduced and referred to House Judiciary Committee Jan. 9.
  • West Virginia SB27: This bill would require that a political action committee disclose the names and addresses of its contributors to the secretary of state.
    • Introduced and referred to Senate Judiciary Committee Jan. 8.
  • West Virginia SB113: This bill expands disclosure requirements for covered transfers, which are defined as any transfers or payments of funds from one person to another for campaign-related disbursements (i.e., independent expenditures consisting of public or electioneering communications).
    • Introduced and referred to Senate Judiciary Committee Jan. 8.


Ninth Circuit rules public-sector unions not liable for fees paid prior to Janus

On Dec. 26, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that public-sector unions cannot be required to refund fees paid prior to Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, the U.S. Supreme Court held that compulsory collection of union fees violates workers’ free-speech and associational rights.

Who are the parties to the suit? The plaintiffs are Dale Danielson, Benjamin Rast, and Tamara Roberson, all Washington state employees. The defendants are Gov. Jay Inslee (D), David Schumacher, Director of Washington State Office of Financial Management, and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 28.

What is at issue? The plaintiffs first filed their class-action lawsuit on March 15, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. In their original filing, the plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of compulsory fee collection and sought refunds of “all agency fees that were unlawfully collected from Plaintiffs and their fellow class members.” On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. In light of Janus, AFSCME Council 28 requested that the district court dismiss the suit as moot. The district court granted this request. The plaintiffs appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

How did the court rule? On Dec. 26, a three-judge panel of the appeals court unanimously affirmed the district court’s decision. Judge Jacqueline Nguyen wrote the court’s opinion, which was joined by Judges Ronald Gould and Gregory Presnell. Nguyen wrote, “Throughout the country, public sector employees brought claims for monetary relief against the unions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Many unions asserted a good faith defense in response. Joining a growing consensus, the district court here ruled in favor of the union. We affirm and hold that private parties may invoke an affirmative defense of good faith to retrospective monetary liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, where they acted in direct reliance on then-binding Supreme Court precedent and presumptively-valid state law.”

Nguyen was appointed to the court by President Barack Obama (D). Gould and Presnell were appointed by President Bill Clinton (D).

Case information: The case name and number are Danielson v. Inslee (3:18-cv-05206- RJB).

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 49 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map January 10, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart January 10, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Union Station partisan chart January 10, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Maine LD1960: This bill would make communications between municipal/state workers and their unions confidential in proceedings before the Maine Labor Relations Board.
    • Introduced and referred to Judiciary Committee Jan. 8.
  • Missouri HB1906: This bill would require public employees to provide annual written or electronic authorization for payroll deductions of union dues.
    • Introduced Jan. 8.
  • New Hampshire HB1290: This bill would require the state public employee labor relations board to permit employees to vote by mail in certification elections.
    • Introduced and referred to House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee Jan. 8.
  • New Hampshire HB1322: This bill would prohibit university system funds from being used to oppose the formation of unions.
    • Introduced and referred to House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee Jan. 8.
  • New Hampshire HB1399: This bill would allow a bargaining unit to request certification of its union/representative.
    • Introduced and referred to House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee Jan. 8.
  • New Hampshire HB1554: This bill would provide for changes to public employee voting in certification elections.
    • Introduced and referred to House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee Jan. 8.
  • New Hampshire SB448: This bill would require the state public employee labor relations board to certify a union as a bargaining unit’s exclusive representative if that union receives a “majority written authorization.”
    • Introduced and referred to Senate Commerce Committee Jan. 8.
  • Virginia HB327: This bill would allow state and local government employers to recognize any union as the bargaining agent of any public employees.
    • Introduced Jan. 1.
  • Virginia HB582: This bill would repeal the existing prohibition against collective bargaining by public employees.
    • Introduced Jan. 1


Ninth Circuit rules public-sector unions not liable for fees paid prior to Janus

On Dec. 26, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that public-sector unions cannot be required to refund fees paid prior to Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, the U.S. Supreme Court held that compulsory collection of union fees violates workers’ free-speech and associational rights.

Who are the parties to the suit?
The plaintiffs are Dale Danielson, Benjamin Rast, and Tamara Roberson, all Washington state employees. The defendants are Gov. Jay Inslee (D), David Schumacher, Director of Washington State Office of Financial Management, and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 28.

What is at issue?
The plaintiffs first filed their class-action lawsuit on March 15, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. In their original filing, the plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of compulsory fee collection and sought refunds of “all agency fees that were unlawfully collected from Plaintiffs and their fellow class members.” On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. In light of Janus, AFSCME Council 28 requested that the district court dismiss the suit as moot. The district court granted this request. The plaintiffs appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

How did the court rule?
On Dec. 26, a three-judge panel of the appeals court unanimously affirmed the district court’s decision. Judge Jacqueline Nguyen wrote the court’s opinion, which was joined by Judges Ronald Gould and Gregory Presnell. Nguyen wrote, “Throughout the country, public sector employees brought claims for monetary relief against the unions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Many unions asserted a good faith defense in response. Joining a growing consensus, the district court here ruled in favor of the union. We affirm and hold that private parties may invoke an affirmative defense of good faith to retrospective monetary liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, where they acted in direct reliance on then-binding Supreme Court precedent and presumptively-valid state law.”

Nguyen was appointed to the court by President Barack Obama (D). Gould and Presnell were appointed by President Bill Clinton (D).

Case information: The case name and number are Danielson v. Inslee (3:18-cv-05206- RJB).

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
Public-sector union policy in the United States
Janus v. AFSCME



A look ahead at ranked-choice voting in 2020

A look ahead at ranked-choice voting in 2020

Voters in Alaska and Massachusetts may weigh in on ballot measures that would implement ranked-choice voting for state-level and congressional offices.

Alaska: The ballot measure, an indirect initiated state statute, would establish ranked-choice voting for all general elections conducted in the state. The measure would also establish a top-four primary system for all state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices.

  • Supporters must submit 28,501 petition signatures in order to qualify the measure. Petition signatures must be filed prior to the start of the 2020 legislative session, which is set to begin on Jan .21. If the initiative is certified, the state legislature can directly approve it or equivalent legislation, thereby keeping the measure off the ballot. If the legislature does not act, the initiative will appear on the ballot. A simple majority of voters must approve the measure in order to enact it into law.

Massachusetts: The ballot measure, an indirect initiated state statute, would establish ranked-choice voting for both primary and general elections for statewide, state legislative, and congressional offices.

  • Proponents submitted 111,268 petition signatures in order to qualify the measure. On Dec. 4, 2019, William Galvin, secretary of the commonwealth, announced that his office had verified that more than 80,239 of these signatures were valid, thereby meeting the requirements for certification. The legislature has until May 5, 2020, to approve the measure itself and forgo placing it on the ballot for voter approval. If the legislature declines to act, proponents will need to submit an additional 13,374 signatures by July 1, 2020, in order to place the measure on the Nov. 3, 2020, ballot. A simple majority of voters must approve the measure in order to enact it into law.

How many jurisdictions have adopted ranked-choice voting? One state (Maine) has implemented ranked-choice voting at the state level. Local governments in nine states have implemented ranked-choice voting at some level. Local governments in another four states have adopted but have not yet implemented ranked-choice voting. See the map and table below for further details.

Ranked-choice voting map
Ranked-choice voting map

 

Federal judge blocks North Carolina voter ID law 

On Dec. 31, 2019, Judge Loretta Biggs, of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, prohibited North Carolina officials from enforcing the state’s voter identification law.

What is at issue? On Nov. 6, 2018, North Carolinians approved a state constitutional amendment establishing a photo identification requirement for voters. The state legislature, with Republican majorities in both chambers, approved implementing legislation (SB 824) in December of that year, overriding Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto. The state chapter of the NAACP, in tandem with several local NAACP affiliates, filed suit, alleging that provisions of SB 824 constituted “the effective denial of the franchise and dilution of [African American and Latino] voting strength,” violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

How did the court rule? In the opinion ordering the injunction, Biggs, an Obama appointee, wrote, “Plaintiffs have satisfied each element required to support the issuance of a preliminary injunction with respect to their claims that S.B. 824’s voter-ID (both in-person and absentee) and ballot-challenge provisions were impermissibly motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent. Those provisions will be enjoined pending trial. In contrast, the evidence in the record does not sufficiently demonstrate that S.B. 824’s provision expanding the number of at-large poll workers allotted to both political parties warrants an injunction at this time.”

What are the responses? Dr. Anthony Spearman, president of the North Carolina NAACP, said, “The Federal Court made it crystal clear that racial discrimination will not stand in North Carolina in its decision today to intervene to halt this illegal photo voter ID impediment-the latest bad faith attempt in a string of failed efforts by the NC General Assembly to place hurdles in the path of the right to vote of African Americans and Latinos in this state, and to diminish the force of the true will of the people.”

Republican State Sen. Phil Berger opposed the ruling: “It is absolutely ridiculous that the judge would accuse the bill sponsors – including an African American Democrat – of being racist. The voters saw the need for voter ID and approved the constitutional amendment. The legislature, acting on the will of the people, enacted one of the broadest voter ID laws in the nation. Now this lawsuit, and last-minute ruling, have sowed additional discord and confusion about the voting process.”

What comes next? Biggs’ Dec. 31 order is not a final ruling on the merits. Biggs’ order prevents election officials from enforcing voter identification requirements pending resolution of the case. It is unclear whether an appeal will be made to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

U.S. Census Bureau releases 2019 population estimates, foreshadowing post-2020 apportionment 

Last month, the United States Census Bureau released population estimates for 2019. Although these number are not final, they can function as a bellwether for changes in congressional apportionment that might result from the 2020 census.

Projected changes in congressional reapportionment
Projected changes in congressional reapportionment

According to several commentators, including Reid WilsonWilliam H. Frey, and Louis Jacobson, 10 states – Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia – might lose congressional seats in the coming apportionment cycle. Seven states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas – might gain seats.

  • Of the 10 states poised to lose congressional seats …
    • Nine are expected to lose one seat a piece. One state – New York – might lose two.
    • Democrats have the majority of seats in the current U.S. House delegations for California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island. Republicans, meanwhile, hold the majority of seats in the current delegations for Alabama, Ohio, and West Virginia. Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
  • Of the seven states poised to gain congressional seats …
    • Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon are likely to gain one seat each. Florida is likely to gain two, and Texas might pick up three.
    • Democrats have the majority of seats in the current U.S. House delegations for Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon. Republicans, meanwhile, hold the majority of seats in the current delegations for Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Texas.

Ballot access requirements for gubernatorial candidates in 2020 

Eleven states will hold gubernatorial elections in 2020. How do prospective candidates get on the ballot in their respective states?

Generally speaking, a candidate must either pay a filing fee or submit petition signatures in order to have his or her name printed on the ballot. In states like Montana and Utah a candidate must do both.

The table below details filing requirements for both partisan and unaffiliated gubernatorial candidates in 2020. Where petition signatures are required, ratios expressing those requirements as percentages of state population are provided to facilitate comparisons.

Ballot access requirements for gubernatorial candidates 2020
Ballot access requirements for gubernatorial candidates 2020

Legislation tracking 

Redistricting legislation: The map below shows which states having taken up redistricting policy legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills.

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2020

Current as of Jan. 5, 2020

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2020
Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2020

Electoral systems legislation: The map below shows which states having taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills.

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2020

Current as of Jan. 5, 2020

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2020
Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2020

Primary systems legislation: The map below shows which states having taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills.

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2020

Current as of Jan. 5, 2020

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2020
Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2020


Two nonprofit groups challenge Rhode Island donor disclosure law

On Nov. 21, 2019, two nonprofit groups – the Gaspee Project and the Illinois Opportunity Project – filed suit in U.S. District Court, alleging that a Rhode Island law requiring issue advocacy groups to disclose personal information about their donors to the public violates donors’ free-speech and privacy rights.

Who are the parties to the suit? The plaintiffs are two nonprofit groups: the Gaspee Project and the Illinois Opportunity Project, both 501(c)(4) organizations subject to the challenged law. They are represented by the Liberty Justice Center. The defendants are Diane Mederos, Stephen Erickson, Jennifer Johnson, Richard Pierce, Isadore Ramos, David Sholes, and William West, all members of the Rhode Island Board of Elections.

What is at issue? The law in question (H7859, enacted in 2012) requires issue advocacy groups to disclose to the public personal information about their donors who contribute more than $1,000. Groups must report the donor’s name, job title, employer, home address, and donation amount. This information is then posted to a government website. The law also requires that, in the weeks leading up to an election, groups publish the names of their top five contributors on any advertising or messages.

What are the arguments? Daniel R. Suhr, an attorney for the Liberty Justice Center, said, “This case is about freedom of speech and association. We think the marketplace of ideas operates best when we have the most robust conversation and people can controversial things without fear of retaliation. From the beginning of our nation, our country has had a proud tradition of anonymous speech in the public square. And that stems from a commitment to focusing on ideas, rather than who is paying for the message.”

Austin Graham, legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, which supports the Rhode Island law, said, “It’s about providing voters with more information to fully evaluate political advertising and messaging, which in turn allows them to fully participate in the democratic process. It’s the marketplace of ideas. Informed decisions in the political marketplace, like the economic marketplace, depend on the free flow of information about sources of political messages supporting or opposing candidates.”

Have other courts ruled on the constitutionality of similar laws? On Sept. 30, Judge Denise Cote, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 2016 law requiring 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) groups to disclose personal information about their donors in select circumstances. Under the New York law, 501(c)(3) groups were required to disclose the identities of donors who contributed more than $2,500 in a calendar year if the 501(c)(3) group made in-kind contributions to a 501(c)(4) group that engaged in lobbying activity. 501(c)(4) groups were required to disclose the identities of donors who contributed more than $1,000 if the 501(c)(4) group spent $10,000 or more per calendar year on covered communications (i.e., communications that advocate for or against an identified elected official).

On Oct. 2., Judge Brian R. Martinotti, of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, enjoined the state from enforcing its donor disclosure law, adopted on June 17, while litigation is underway. Under the New Jersey law, 501(c)(4) and 527 entities that spend $3,000 or more annually to influence or provide political information about the outcome of any election or policy proposal must disclose the identities of their donors who contribute $10,000 or more.

Case information: The case name and number are Gaspee Project et al. v Mederos et al., 1:19-cv-00609. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. The presiding judge is Mary McElroy, who was appointed to the court by Donald Trump (R).

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 74 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Disclosure Digest map December 23, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart December 23, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Disclosure Digest partisan chart December 23, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.



Department of Labor proposes rule requiring mid-level public-sector unions to disclose finances

On Dec. 17, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a regulation that would require mid-level public-sector unions (i.e., state, regional, or district affiliates of national-level unions) to disclose their finances to the federal government if their parent organizations represent private-sector workers.

What are the current regulations? Since 2010, mid-level unions representing public-sector employees exclusively have not been subject to federal financial reporting requirements, even if their parent unions do represent some private-sector workers. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act requires all unions representing private-sector workers to file regular financial disclosure reports with the U.S. Department of Labor.

What is the proposed regulation? The proposed regulation would restore a 2003 rule that required intermediate public-sector union affiliates to disclose their finances if their parent unions represented some private-sector workers. The 2003 rule was enacted by the Bush administration and later rescinded by the Obama administration. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the proposal would result in expanded disclosure filings by mid-level affiliates of the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the International Association of Firefighters. Membership and financial figures for these unions are as follows:

What are the reactions?

  • In July 2018, the Department of Labor indicated it was considering the rule change. At that time, NEA general counsel Alice O’Brien said, “Given the strength of the pedigree of the current rule, any attempt by DOL to proceed with the proposed rule would be another attack on unions by this administration.”
  • Also in July 2018, Glenn Spencer, vice president of employment policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “The [Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act] is meant to be construed broadly and it’s meant to extend coverage as widely as possible.”

What comes next? The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 17. The Department of Labor will accept public comments on the proposal until Feb. 18, 2020.

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 107 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map December 20, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart December 20, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Union Station partisan chart December 20, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.



Massachusetts changes federal and state primary date in 2020 to September 1

On December 13, 2019, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) signed H4246, a supplemental appropriations bill, into law. The bill includes a section changing the state’s primary election date for federal and state-level offices from September 15, 2020, to September 1, 2020. No candidate filing deadlines have been altered as a result of this change. Massachusetts’ presidential preference primary will still take place on March 3, 2020.
The bill as originally adopted by the legislature would have moved the implementation of automatic voter registration, provided for by a 2018 law, from January 1, 2020, to April 1, 2020. Baker vetoed this provision of the bill, saying, “I cannot approve sections that would jeopardize the success of the program and require a substantial change to the voter registration process in the middle of an election cycle.” Baker signed the remainder of the bill into law. In his signing statement, he did not address the primary election date change.
As originally scheduled, Massachusetts’ September 15 primary would have tied with Delaware’s for latest in the nation. Now, three states will hold their primaries after Massachusetts: New Hampshire and Rhode Island on September 8 and Delaware on September 15.
Click here to read more.


Bitnami