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10 statewide candidate filing deadlines coming up this month

Welcome to the Friday, June 3, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ten statewide candidate filing deadlines coming up this month
  2. New Jersey’s upcoming statewide primaries
  3. Campaign finance in California with Transparency USA

Ten statewide candidate filing deadlines coming up this month

June is one of the busiest months of the 2022 election cycle, with 17 primary elections, the most of the year, and 10 statewide candidate filing deadlines, the year’s second-most.

We will be bringing you information about the primaries throughout the coming weeks, but today, let’s look at those candidate filing deadlines, some of the last ones remaining in this election cycle.

Three filing deadlines have already passed in June. Candidates in Alaska, Kansas, and Wisconsin had until June 1 to file to run in primary elections.

Five filing deadlines are coming up next week. Connecticut, Hawaii, and Massachusetts have deadlines set for June 7. New Hampshire and New York’s deadlines are coming up on June 10.

For Connecticut, Hawaii, and New Hampshire, these filing deadlines apply for all state and congressional offices on the ballot. For Massachusetts and New York, these are the second major filing deadlines of the cycle. Both states had earlier filing deadlines for some offices. The ones coming up in June apply to congressional and statewide candidates in Massachusetts and congressional and state Senate candidates in New York.

Two deadlines will come later in the month. Candidates in Florida have until June 17 to file, followed by those in Rhode Island on June 29.

These June filing deadlines are some of the last for this election cycle. Only two states—Delaware and Louisiana—have later filing deadlines, with both scheduled for July.

We will continue to bring you primary coverage as the election cycle progresses and in-depth looks at post-filing deadline statistics from every state as they become available.

Keep reading 

New Jersey’s upcoming statewide primaries

We’re right around the corner from Super Tuesday. Seven states are holding statewide primaries for federal and state offices on June 7: California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Today, let’s take a closer look at New Jersey, the races on the ballot, and how their primaries work.

Elections in New Jersey tend to be quieter in even-numbered years. The state holds executive and legislative elections in odd-numbered years, most recently in 2021. That leaves only congressional races at the top of the ballot this year. 

New Jersey is holding elections for its 12 congressional districts. The state’s congressional delegation currently includes 10 Democrats and two Republicans. Every incumbent is seeking re-election except for Rep. Albio Sires (D) in the 8th District, who is retiring. Of the 11 incumbents seeking re-election, six will face contested primaries, with the remaining five guaranteed to advance to the general election. 

Overall, 56 major party candidates—20 Democrats and 36 Republicans—filed to run for the U.S. House this year, the largest number since 2014. This sets up 15 contested primaries, the same as in 2020. Unlike 2020, and every other cycle back to 2014, this is the first year New Jersey has more contested Republican primaries (9) than Democratic ones (6).

In New Jersey, candidates can advance from a primary with a plurality, rather than a majority, of the vote. The state does not hold runoff elections. This means the candidate with the most votes—even if less than 50% of the votes cast—advances. This is especially pronounced in primaries with many candidates like the seven-person Republican primary in the state’s 7th District.

In addition to the candidates on the ballot, New Jersey also allows write-in candidacies. These write-in candidates don’t need to file, but to win a primary, they must receive the number of votes greater than or equal to the number of signatures they would have needed to appear on the ballot.

These primaries are not the final step in completing the state’s general election ballot. The filing deadline for independent candidates, for example, is also set for June 7. 

If you have primaries coming up, use Ballotpedia’s Sample Ballot Lookup to see what’s on your ballot and bring your choices to the polls with our My Vote app!

Keep reading 

Campaign finance in California with Transparency USA

Campaign finance figures—how much candidates raise, spend, and have at their disposal—help voters understand where money is coming from and going in our elections. 

One entity, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), tracks these figures at the federal level. At the state level, it gets trickier. Every state has different reporting systems and typically uses different formats when releasing these reports.

That’s why we are excited to announce that we’ve added a new state to our collaboration with Transparency USA: California.

Ballotpedia has published individual campaign finance data on state-level legislative candidates in California in partnership with Transparency USA. Candidates for state executive and state legislative positions are covered as part of this partnership. To explore those races and candidates on the ballot this year, click here. And here’s an example of what this partnership has helped us create:

Democrats currently hold a trifecta and a triplex in the state, meaning they control the positions of governor, attorney general and secretary of state, as well as majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

This year, we plan to publish several hundred articles breaking down campaign finance numbers in the 12 states covered by Transparency USA: Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Use the link below to learn more about our partnership with Transparency USA.
Keep reading



New Hampshire becomes final state to enact congressional map

New Hampshire enacted the final congressional map of the 2020 redistricting cycle on May 31, 2022, when the New Hampshire Supreme Court approved a map drawn by redistricting special master Nathaniel Persily. New Hampshire was apportioned two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, one more than it received after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for New Hampshire’s 2022 congressional elections.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court assumed control over the redistricting process as part of a lawsuit filed by former New Hampshire House Speaker Terie Norelli (D) and several voters. On April 11, the court announced it would take control of the process if the state legislature and governor could not draw a new congressional map.

The New Hampshire state legislature approved two congressional map bills. The first was approved 186-164 in the New Hampshire House on January 5 and 13-11 in the New Hampshire Senate on March 17. Shortly after the map was approved by the Senate, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said he planned to veto the map. The House voted 176-171 and the Senate voted 14-10 to approve a second map bill on May 26. On the same day, Sununu said he planned to veto the map.

As of May 31, 43 states have adopted new congressional maps, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and Florida’s congressional map is currently undergoing a legal challenge. As of May 31 in 2012, 42 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

States have completed congressional redistricting for 408 of the 435 seats (93.8%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Additional reading:



Zeigler, Allen advance to Alabama secretary of state primary runoff

Jim Zeigler and Wes Allen advanced from the Republican primary for Alabama secretary of state to a June 21, 2022, primary runoff. A candidate needed at least 50% of the primary vote to win outright. Zeigler had 43% and Allen, 40% as of Wednesday afternoon. Christian Horn and Ed Packard also ran in the May 24 primary. Incumbent John Merrill (R) was term-limited.

Each candidate said his experience prepared him for the position. Allen was a Pike County Probate Court judge and said he administered more than a dozen elections without error. Zeigler, the state auditor, said he had been a “watchman against government waste, mismanagement and corruption” and would be a watchman for election integrity.

The candidates each highlighted areas of election policy they would focus on. Allen said he opposed mass mail, no-excuse absentee, early, and curbside voting and supported a photo ID requirement. Zeigler highlighted his support for a photo ID requirement and opposition to same-day voter registration, allowing non-citizens to vote, efforts to extend the voting period, ballot drop boxes, and allowing people to return ballots on behalf of other voters.

Republicans have held the Secretary of State office in Alabama since 2007. The secretary of state is Alabama’s chief election official and certifies vote totals, ballots, and fundraising records. The secretary of state is also responsible for business registration and keeping the state government’s official documents and public records.



Elon Musk continues push back against ESG

ESG Developments This Week

In Washington, D.C.

Documenting ESG pushback

On May 19, The Wall Street Journal carried an op-ed by Jonathan Berry, a Trump administration Labor Department official, and Boyden Gray, former White House Counsel to President George H. W. Bush. The piece focuses on index funds/ETFs, highlighting efforts made in the states in opposition to ESG, and suggesting that there may, in the near future, be federal efforts following the same tack. The two wrote the following:

“Passive investing through index funds lets ordinary Americans own the market. Those funds and similar vehicles spread risk and keep fees low. The resulting rates of return have triggered seismic shifts from active to passive funds.

The problem is that there’s been an equally seismic power shift to those passive funds’ investment managers. They’re trying to remake corporate America to suit their personal politics.

In truth, it’s the Big Three investment managers who now own the market. BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street control more than $20 trillion in assets. In 90% of public companies, one of the Big Three is the largest shareholder. More money means more votes: At S&P 500 companies, the Big Three cast about 20% to 25% of all shareholder votes. And that vote bloc will only grow as more Americans move their savings into passive funds.

That concentration of voting power in three like-minded investment companies, given the diversity of all other voting interests, means the Big Three can often direct the outcome of board elections and shareholder proposals….

Fortunately, it looks as if more of our elected representatives are waking up. West Virginia’s state treasurer recently fired BlackRock from a state investment board over its China ties and hostility to fossil fuels. Florida’s top officials have moved to claw back proxy voting power from outside fund managers over Chinese entanglements and politicized investment decisions. Texas (with other states to follow) has gone so far as to demand fair treatment in financing for industries that don’t fit the politics of Mr. Fink et al.—think fracking, guns and oil.

Congress is joining the conversation. This week, the Senate took up a major bill, the Investor Democracy is Expected Act. The Index Act requires passive investment managers to cast funds’ most important votes in accord with the wishes of actual investors. This kind of reform dissipates the political power amassed by the Big Three as an incident to the rise of passive investing. It would push America’s public companies to respond to the desires of ultimate investors—i.e., regular people.

Happily, the writing is already on the wall. Facing pushback, Mr. Fink has lately muted the imperious tone from his annual letter to CEOs, and BlackRock has started extending “proxy voting choice” to larger clients, representing 40% of index equity assets under management. So why not finish the job and send the rest of the power back?

American corporations are supposed to work for their shareholders. An ideal, yes, but requiring asset managers to pass voting power back to investors would bring it closer to reality.”

On Wall Street and in the private sector

Documenting the pushback against the pushback to ESG

Throughout May, numerous defenses against efforts in opposition to the ESG investment movement have appeared. Bloomberg ran two columns (one reprinted at The Washington Post) which argued that, in the view of the pieces, pushback efforts in opposition to ESG are somewhat less than they are cracked up to be. The first of these, by Liam Denning, ran May 19:

“Recently, it may feel as if your 401K is just a mathematical distillation of every wrong decision you’ve ever made. Even worse, though, what if your investments are nothing less than the means by which a shallow and divisive agenda is foisted on millions of unsuspecting Americans by an “ideological cartel”?

That choice phrase comes from Vivek Ramaswamy, a former biotech executive, author and now cofounder of a new investment firm seeded by, among others, the billionaire Peter Thiel. Strive Asset Management seeks to take on the Big Three — BlackRock Inc., State Street Corp. and Vanguard Group Inc. — accusing them of coordinating a campaign to push political objectives that are at odds with their clients’ best interests. In essence, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink et al. decide that they want to prioritize tackling climate change or systemic racism or whatnot and then use the trillions of passive dollars they invest to force companies to prioritize that, too. Strive will do the opposite, pushing instead “excellence capitalism” — that is, nudging companies to ditch the political stuff and focus on delivering good products and services….

Ramaswamy’s core argument is a warning about the growing power of passive money managers. This has merit. The Big Three own, on their clients’ behalf, about one-fifth of each S&P 500 member, on average, with potentially negative implications for governance and competition. There is already lively debate and a body of academic literature about this. 

Still, it remains a leap to conclude that there now exists a cartel — a loaded term — that effectively forces certain political stances on US companies and Americans in general. It is far from clear that corporations set the pace on social issues rather than take their cues from below. For example, plenty of people — indeed, a majority in the US — are concerned about climate change, and that didn’t require the imprimatur of any corporate executive….

Google articles about Strive and you will find terms like “ESG,” “SRI” — socially responsible investing — and stakeholder capitalism used interchangeably. Similarly, Ramaswamy’s book uses the catch-all term “woke”:

Basically, being woke means obsessing about race, gender, and sexual orientation. Maybe climate change too. That’s the best definition I can give.

If you say so. Dismissing climate change as just another activist obsession speaks to the logical disconnect of exhorting Exxon to focus on delivering a high-quality product without acknowledging that said product carries an inherent, climate-related flaw that requires a strategic response. One person’s liberal hobby horse is another’s systemic risk….

Strive’s timing is impeccable, effectively taking the opposite side of what has become a crowded trade.

That timing also makes it suspect. Strive launches amid a gathering Republican campaign against companies taking positions that oppose the party line on wedge issues. The day after Strive’s announcement, former Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech in Texas attacking ESG and socially minded investing, making a wild claim that Exxon’s new directors were “now working to undermine the company from the inside.” As much as Strive touts itself as “depoliticizing corporate America,” I’m afraid you don’t get to do that credibly while also boasting about seed money from Thiel.”

The argument that pushback against ESG is politically tinged is an argument reiterated in the second Bloomberg pieceby Jeff Green and Saijel Kishanpublished the following day, May 20:

“Heading into the hotly contested midterm elections, the American political right has a new rallying cry: Down with ESG.

Conservatives have identified the popular investing strategy, which accounts for environmental, social and governance risks, as part of a broader narrative about left-wing overreach and “ wokeness” run amok. Utah Treasurer Marlo Oaks calls it “corporate cancel culture.” Behind the rhetoric lie policies designed to sap the momentum of one of Wall Street’s most successful initiatives in recent years, now worth $35 trillion globally. If it works, it will firmly ensconce ESG in the culture wars, galvanize voters and weaken the resolve of big asset managers to act on climate change and other big, societal issues.

West Virginians are already all too familiar with ESG, according to state treasurer Riley Moore. He’s preparing a list of banks that, he says, will lose the state’s business unless they declare they aren’t boycotting the coal industry and other fossil fuels. “Certainly ‘woke capitalism’ is something they are very familiar with,” he said. “We’re facing threats from that in my state, right now.”

The attacks on ESG escalated last week when former Vice President Mike Pence made the strategy a key theme in an energy-policy speech in Houston. A potential candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Pence said large investment firms are pushing a “radical ESG agenda” and took aim at BlackRock Inc., whose Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink is a champion of sustainable investing, and others who have pressed for progress on climate change….

With gas prices rising and energy a key factor in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s becoming easier for Republicans to tie ESG to pocketbook issues of their constituents. Just as Critical Race Theory grew from a catchall for parents unhappy or worried about what their children were learning in public schools to successful efforts to seize control of local school boards, ESG opponents see an opportunity to aim voters’ fears of inflation at the finance industry’s efforts to combat global warming and other social ills. 

It’s also a new front in a longstanding battle against further restrictions on fossil-fuel industries, which give generously to Republican party candidates, and more corporate accountability. At the state level, Republican governors and other officials are finding new ways to block major Wall Street firms from state business, including managing pension funds and bond issues, if they apply ESG principles to other parts of their portfolios.

Nationally, the broadsides against ESG bolster calls to abandon, or at least relax, environmental standards in favor of “energy independence.” It’s also a partisan issue at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which is trying to require companies to report on their greenhouse gas emissions. In a virtual meeting on the plan in March, the agency’s only Republican commissioner, Hester Peirce, turned off her camera in protest, saying that she was trying to reduce her carbon footprint.

Republicans are increasingly using banks and “woke” companies as cudgels for their base voters, said Reed Galen, a co-founder of the anti-Trump group, The Lincoln Project. “If you’re taking on a company who has environmental and social justice goals, you don’t have to explain ESG to the voters. All you have to do is say ‘woke corporation.’”…

Few expect the Republican attacks on ESG to vaporize the industry. As of now, roughly $3.4 trillion of public retirement money is invested in line with ESG strategies of some sort, according to the sustainable-investing industry group US SIF. Some of the bigger, more liberal states like California and New York are pushing for more restrictive ESG screens for state funds, not less. What’s more, many of the world’s biggest financial institutions have their own goals to cut emissions, which include reducing the amount of business they do with heavy polluters — whether they bill it as ESG or not. Many also have set targets for workforce diversity and elevating women in management, neither of which are politically popular among the right.

Still, the political pressure seems to be taking a toll. BlackRock sent a letter this week to the Texas state comptroller, rebutting the assertion that the firm boycotts the oil and gas industries, and Fink has made it clear he opposes divesting from fossil-fuel companies. The firm also said this year that it won’t back as many shareholder efforts to push companies to reduce their emissions compared with 2021. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is also taking steps to re-establish itself in Texas’s muni-bond market, about eight months after a new law forced that bank out of most deals because of its policies on guns and fossil fuels.”

In the spotlight

Tesla dumped from S&P ESG Index; CEO Elon Musk calls ESG a scam

Over the last several months, this space has documented the paradoxical but serious battle between the ESG gatekeepers and Tesla, the world’s best-known and most valuable maker of automobiles without greenhouse-gas-producing internal combustion engines.  Over the last several weeks, a war of words between ESG advocates and Tesla, a maker of automobiles without greenhouse-gas-producing internal combustion engines, has heated up.

First, Tesla got kicked out of the S&P 500 ESG index:

“This week, S&P Global SPGI +2.51% ’s (SPGI) S&P Dow Jones Indices division said that Tesla (TSLA), which CEO Elon Musk says he founded to put the world on a path to a sustainable-energy future, doesn’t have a comprehensive low-carbon strategy and no longer qualifies for inclusion in the S&P 500 ESG Index (SPXESUP). 

Tesla was “ineligible for index inclusion due to its low S&P DJI ESG Score,” Margaret Dorn, head of ESG Indices, North America, at S&P Dow Jones Indices, wrote in a blog post explaining the decision. “So, while Tesla’s S&P DJI ESG Score has remained fairly stable year-over-year, it was pushed further down the ranks relative to its global industry group peers.””

After that, its CEO Elon Musk called ESG a scam:

“This week, a major move to cut Tesla from a closely followed environmental, social and governance (ESG) index brought anger and relief in nearly equal measure.

Defiance was on display from Standard & Poor’s, which rejected Tesla from its ESG index; annoyance emerged from Tesla TSLA, 1.20% investors, including well-known asset manager and Tesla bull Cathie Wood. There was also a seething snapback from Elon Musk….

“ESG is a scam. It has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors,” tweeted Musk, lamenting that ExxonMobil topped Tesla.

“Ridiculous,” was Wood’s terse response to Tesla’s removal.”



Year in review: A recap of donor disclosure and privacy policy in the first half of 2022

State legislative sessions are winding down. This will be our last edition of The Disclosure Digest for the next few months as we take a short break and gear up for 2023.. We’ll be back later this year to help you get ready for the 2023 sessions. For now, please enjoy this look back at the 2022 session, and as always, thanks for reading!

Disclosure Digest

State legislators have considered at least 143 bills on donor disclosure and privacy policy this year. Some of these bills required the disclosure of donor information, such as names, addresses, and donation amounts, while others prohibited certain types of disclosure and expanded donor privacy. Of the 143 bills we tracked this year, Republicans sponsored 48, Democrats sponsored 62, and bipartisan groups or committees sponsored 33. 

Ballotpedia also covered six court cases in Alaska, Connecticut, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington that affected or could affect disclosure and privacy policy.

Let’s take a look back at session activity in 2022 and how it compares to past years.

Enacted legislation

Of the 15 bills on donor disclosure and privacy enacted this year, 11 focused on disclosure and four focused on privacy. Seven bills were passed in Republican trifecta states while three were in Democratic trifectas. 

Disclosure bills:

  • Colorado HB1060 sets limits on contributions to candidates for school board director and require candidates to disclose campaign contribution information to the secretary of state. 
  • Florida H0921 prohibits a foreign national from making or offering to make contributions or expenditures in connection with any election held in the state.
  • Indiana SB0134 requires appropriations of any donation from a nongovernmental organization to a state agency or local unit of government to be listed in a separate line item in the budget of the state or local unit of government. The budget line item must specify each individual state employee or local government employee, whichever is applicable, whose salary is funded in whole or in part from the donated money.
  • Indiana SB0388 requires a postsecondary educational institution to submit a report to the Indiana commissioner for higher education disclosing gifts of at least $50,000 from a foreign source. 
  • Kentucky HB301 prohibits a state government employee from accepting contributions to assist with election administration unless entered into as a lawful contract.
  • Kentucky HB740 requires a candidate exempt from filing a campaign finance report to file a 30 day post-election report of receipts and disbursements. It would also require a candidate who is exempt from filing for the primary who advances to the regular election to refile for the filing exemption. 
  • Maine LD1754 requires contributors giving more than $100,000 to a political action committee or ballot question committee for the purpose of influencing a ballot question to file a disclosure statement with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
  • Maine LD1782 prohibits a ballot question committee from making contributions to a candidate or political action committee if the contributed funds are derived from a business. 
  • Virginia HB492 requires campaign committee treasurers to keep accounts of campaign contributions and expenditures and authorizes the Department of Elections to conduct reviews of a percentage of campaign committees.
  • Wyoming HB0049 increases the penalty for failing to file disclosure reports.
  • Wyoming HB0080 requires all campaigns and political action committees to file an itemized statement of contributions and expenditures.

Privacy bills:

  • Kansas HB2109 prohibits a state agency from requesting or releasing the personal information of donors to 501(c) organizations.  
  • Utah HB0040 prevents the disclosure of the names and information of donors or prospective donors to a governmental entity.
  • Virginia HB970 prohibits government agencies from requesting or disclosing donor information from any 501(c) organization. The bill exempts the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act of 2006 from the privacy requirements.
  • West Virginia HB4419 removes restrictions on candidate and campaign caucus committees’ donations to their affiliated state party executive committees or a caucus campaign committee.

In comparison, we tracked 40 bills during the first five months of 2021, and eight of these bills had been enacted by this point in the year. Three of the enacted bills were focused on disclosure and five were focused on privacy. In 2020, we tracked 48 bills in the first five months of the year, and four of those bills had been enacted. 

Court activity 

Gaspee Project v. Mederos

On April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not take up Gaspee Project v. Mederos, a lawsuit challenging Rhode Island’s campaign finance disclosure regulations. The court’s refusal to hear the appeal means a lower court ruling upholding the state’s law will stand.

Smith v. Helzer

On April 7, five Alaska residents and several independent expenditure groups sued the Alaska Public Offices Commission in U.S. district court challenging donor disclosure requirements enacted through a 2020 ballot measure. 

Ofsink v. Fagan

In a March 22 filing, three Oregon nonprofit groups asked the Oregon Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on a series of campaign finance ballot measures. On March 18, the court rejected the groups’ request to overturn Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s (D) decision barring the initiatives from appearing on the general election ballot. If the court rejects the groups’ request, the petitioners would have to start the initiative process over.

Cowboys for Trump, Inc. v. Oliver

On Feb. 15, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging New Mexico’s disclosure requirements for political action committees. Cowboys for Trump (also known as C4T), a group founded by Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin (R), filed the original suit after New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) ordered the group to register as a political action committee or pay a fine.

Washington v. Grocery Manufacturers Association

On March 2, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) announced a settlement with a grocery trade group, ending nine years of litigation over the group’s alleged failure to disclose its donors’ identities in a campaign against a 2013 ballot initiative. Under the terms of the settlement, the group will pay a reduced fine in return for accepting responsibility for violating Washington’s disclosure laws and agreeing not to pursue an appeal.

Kissel v. Seagull

On Jan. 19, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut issued its final ruling in Kissel v. Seagull, striking down a Connecticut statute that required paid solicitors to disclose the names and addresses of donors to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection upon request. 

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 143 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure and privacy. Of these bills, 116 are primarily focused on disclosure, and 27 are primarily focused on privacy. To reflect this distinction, the charts in this section and the recent legislative actions below are divided between disclosure legislation and privacy legislation. On the maps 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. 

Donor disclosure legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Donor privacy legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

Donor disclosure legislation

  • Louisiana SB473: This bill would require postsecondary education institutions to disclose the source of any foreign gifts. 
    • Republican sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on May 16.

Donor privacy legislation

No legislative actions were taken on privacy bills this week. 

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations. 



Colorado General Assembly passes bill amending nonprofit disclosure requirements

On May 5, the Colorado Senate passed a bill establishing criteria that would require certain groups supporting or opposing ballot initiatives to register as issue committees. SB237 would limit the amount of money nonprofits can spend on ballot measures before they are considered issue committees and become subject to donor disclosure requirements. The Colorado House of Representatives passed the bill on May 10.

Colorado has a Democratic trifecta, which means the Democratic Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the state legislature. Democrats have a 20-15 majority in the Senate and a 41-24 majority in the House

What the bill would do

Colorado law requires nonprofits to disclose their donors if their major purpose is supporting or opposing ballot measures. Section 1-45-103 defines major purpose as support of or opposition to a ballot measure through annual expenditures and its “production or funding…of written or broadcast communications, or both, in support of or opposition to a ballot issue or ballot question.” Section 1-45-108 requires issue committees to disclose the name and address of each person who has contributed more than $20.  

SB237 would define an organization’s major purpose based on the percentage of its expenditures spent on ballot measure. An organization would be considered an issue committee if more than 30% of its expenditures in the past three years were to support or oppose two or more ballot measures. Organizations spending more than 20% of their expenditures on a single ballot measure would also be considered issue committees. These issue committees would be subject to pre-existing donor disclosure requirements.

The bill would also enact new disclosure requirements for issue committees and candidates. Committees or candidates making ballot measure expenditures of more than $5,000 in a calendar year would be required to submit campaign finance reports to the secretary of state for additional expenditures of more than $1,000.

Legislative actions

Sens. Stephen Fenberg (D) and Chris Holbert (R) introduced SB237 on April 28, 2022. The Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee voted to refer the bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 3. The Senate passed the bill in a unanimous vote on May 5.

In the House, the bill was initially referred to the House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee, which voted to refer it to the Committee on Appropriations on May 5. The House passed the bill 53-12 on May 10, with Republicans casting all 12 votes against it. The bill now goes to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Reactions

Michael Fields, a senior adviser to Advance Colorado Action said the current regulations on ballot measure spending are unclear  “There’s a lack of clarity right now on what (nonprofits) can do on ballot issues,” Fields said

Sen. Holbert said the bill would assist the secretary of state’s office in investigating campaign finance complaints. “[The bill] provides some clarity as to what the state should or shouldn’t do. I don’t think it allows the groups to do anything new or different,” Holbert said

Annie Orloff, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D), said, “The Secretary of State’s Office does not support this legislation as drafted at this time,” but did not say why.  

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 143 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure and privacy. Of these bills, 116 are primarily focused on disclosure, and 27 are primarily focused on privacy. To reflect this distinction, the charts in this section and the recent legislative actions below are divided between disclosure legislation and privacy legislation. On the maps 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. 

Donor disclosure legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status: 

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

Donor privacy legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status: 

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

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

Donor disclosure legislation

  • California SB746: This bill would require a business intentionally using its products or services to make political communications to submit campaign finance reports in certain circumstances. 
    • Democratic sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on May 10.
  • Colorado SB237: This bill would amend the definition of an issue committee and require a person or committee making direct ballot issue or ballot question expenditures of more than $5,000 to file a report with the secretary of state.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship
    • This bill passed both chambers on May 10. 
  • Louisiana SB473: This bill would require postsecondary education institutions to disclose the source of any foreign gifts. 
    • Republican sponsorship
    • This bill passed the upper chamber on May 11. 
  • Missouri HB1505: This bill requires entities making expenditures of $500 or more in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate, an issue considered by the general assembly, or a ballot measures, other than a contribution made directly to a candidate or committee, to disclose their donors in some circumstances.
    • Democratic sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on May 13.
  • Missouri HB1511: This bill requires committees involved in inaugural activities on behalf of a statewide officeholder to file disclosure reports with the ethics commission. It would also bar committees from accepting contributions from anonymous entities.
    • Democratic sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on May 13.
  • Missouri HB2312: This bill would prohibit candidate committees from accepting cash donations in excess of $100, contributions made on behalf of another person, anonymous contributions of more than $25, and contributions from out-of-state committees. Anonymous contributions could not exceed $500 or one percent of the aggregate amount of all contributions received by that committee in the same calendar year, whichever is greater. The bill would also require recipients to disclose the name and address of the actual source of each contribution and to disclose sponsors in print and digital advertisements. 
    • Democratic sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on May 13.
  • Missouri HB2891: This bill would require corporations and foreign non-profit organizations making expenditures over $500 in support or opposition to a candidate or ballot measure to file a report disclosing the name and address of the person making the expenditure.  
    • Democratic sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on May 13.
  • New Hampshire SB348: This bill would prohibit contributions made on behalf of another individual, from a labor union or affiliate of a labor union, or from an anonymous source. It would also establish maximum limits on contributions made by any single individual or entity. 
    • Republican sponsorship
    • This bill passed both chamber on May 13. 

Donor privacy legislation

No legislative actions were taken on privacy bills this week. 

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Checks and Balances: Tennessee lawmakers end judicial deference

Checks and Balances

The Checks and Balances Letter delivers news and information from Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, including pivotal actions at the federal and state levels related to the separation of powers, due process, and the rule of law.

This edition: 

In this month’s edition of Checks and Balances, we review the United States Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) reinstatement of a Trump-era water rule; the latest on challenges to the Biden administration’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine requirement for federal employees; a challenge to free-speech limitations in agency settlement agreements; and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) appeal of a nationwide injunction blocking the Biden administration’s public transport mask requirement. 

At the state level, we take a look at a new Tennessee law prohibiting judicial deference practices in the state as well as a case pending before the Ohio Supreme Court that could determine the future of judicial deference in Ohio.

We also highlight the Biden administration’s recent departure from the Trump administration’s position on agency sue and settle practices. As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 176 proposed rules and 241 final rules added to the Federal Register in April and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.

In Washington

SCOTUS reinstates Trump-era Clean Water Act regulation

What’s the story?

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 6, 2022, voted 5-4 to halt a lower court injunction that had blocked a Trump-era rule regarding certification procedures for certain projects under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The dissenting justices argued that the court’s decision—part of its shadow docket—failed to explain the need to reinstate the rule and grant emergency relief in the case. 

The 2020 rule aimed to update the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 1971 regulations governing state and tribal water quality certifications to align with the 1972 CWA amendments. The rule limited the scope of project certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to consideration of the proposed project’s effect on water quality requirements, among other provisions. Prior to the rule, some state and tribal entities had considered other environmental factors as part of their certification decisions.

 A coalition of states, tribes, and advocacy groups challenged the rule in three district courts, arguing in part that the rule unlawfully violated established case law regarding the interpretation of the CWA. After the Biden administration took office in 2021, the EPA requested that the district courts remand the cases without vacating the rule while the agency determined whether to repeal or revise the regulation. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California nonetheless remanded and vacated the rule in part “because the agency has demonstrated that it will not or could not adopt the same rule upon remand.” 

A separate coalition of states and industry groups appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and asked the United States Supreme Court to issue a stay blocking the vacatur pending the Ninth Circuit’s decision. “Can a single district court vacate a rule that an agency adopted through notice-and-comment rulemaking without first finding that the rule is unlawful? The answer is plainly ‘no,’” they argued.

The majority Supreme Court justices did not provide an explanation for their decision to issue a stay. A dissent by Justice Elena Kagan, joined by the minority justices, argued, “The applicants here have not met our standard because they have failed to substantiate their assertions of irreparable harm. The Court therefore has no warrant to grant emergency relief.”

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Courts direct challenges to federal employee vaccine mandate through civil service procedures

What’s the story? 

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on April 19, 2022, unanimously held in Rydie v. Biden that federal government employees cannot challenge President Joe Biden’s (D) coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine requirement for federal workers in an Article III court without first bringing their challenge before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Biden issued the vaccine mandate via Executive Order 14043 on September 9, 2021. The plaintiffs in the case argued that Biden lacked the authority to issue the requirement. The Fourth Circuit judges held that the plaintiffs must first direct their challenge through the grievance process outlined in the Civil Service Reform Act, which culminates in a decision by the MSPB. Final decisions by the MSPB can then be challenged in an Article III court. 

A three-judge panel of the United States Supreme Court for the Fifth Circuit on April 7 arrived at a similar decision, voting 2-1 to overturn a nationwide injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown that had blocked enforcement of the mandate.

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SCOTUS could hear challenge to free-speech limitations in SEC settlements

What’s the story?

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether to take up a case questioning the constitutionality of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) settlement agreements that require defendants to sign away their First Amendment rights.

Since 1972, the SEC has entered into settlement agreements allowing defendants to publicly disavow the agency’s complaint against them while, at the same time, preventing them from making “any public statement denying, directly or indirectly, any allegation in the complaint or creating the impression that the complaint is without factual basis,” according to the petition before the court in Romeril v. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The case concerns Barry D. Romeril, a former Xerox executive who entered into a settlement with the agency in 2003 and sued in 2019 to reinstate his right to speak about the case. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously ruled in favor of the SEC, holding that Romeril had given up his First Amendment right to free speech when he agreed to settle with the agency rather than litigate the case in an Article III court. Romeril appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing in part, “No act of Congress authorizes such a sweeping restriction on freedom of speech.” 

A decision by the Supreme Court in the case would provide clarity to lower courts, which have reached different conclusions on the issue. In 2019, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rejected a similar settlement between a private citizen and the City of Baltimore, holding “that enforcement of the non-disparagement clause at issue here was contrary to the citizenry’s First Amendment interest in limiting the government’s ability to target and remove speech critical of the government from the public discourse.”

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Appeal of mask mandate ruling could clarify scope of CDC authority

What’s the story?

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 20, 2022, appealed a decision by Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida that blocked enforcement of the Biden administration’s public transport mask mandate. A decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit could clarify the scope of the CDC’s authority to issue the mask mandate and take similar action in the future.

Judge Mizelle on April 18 issued a nationwide injunction that blocked enforcement of the mask mandate, arguing that the requirement for individuals to wear masks in public transportation hubs and conveyances (such as airports and airplanes) exceeded the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) statutory authority and violated the rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

Mizelle wrote in the opinion, “The Mandate’s explanation—a single conclusory sentence—does not carry its burden to ‘show strong enough reason to invoke the good cause exception’” to notice-and-comment rulemaking. Mizelle added that the relevant section of the Public Health Services Act “has no ‘unmistakably clear language’ indicating that Congress intended for the CDC to invade the traditionally State-operated arena of population-wide, preventative public-health regulations.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki disagreed with Mizelle’s position, telling reporters that public health “decisions shouldn’t be made by the courts—they should be made by public health experts.”

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In the states

Tennessee lawmakers end judicial deference practices

What’s the story? 

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) on April 14, 2022, signed a bill aimed at ending judicial deference practices in the state. Tennessee joins at least eleven other states that have either limited or prohibited judicial deference to state agency interpretations of laws and regulations since 2008.

Senate Bill 2285 requires courts to interpret state statutes or rules de novo, as opposed to deferring to state agency interpretations of laws or regulations. The law also states, “After applying all customary tools of interpretation, the court shall resolve any remaining ambiguity against increased agency authority.” This resembles the rule of lenity in criminal law, which resolves ambiguities in favor of the defendant.  

Ballotpedia has identified eleven other states since 2008 in which voters, courts, or lawmakers have taken action to limit or prohibit judicial deference practices: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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Ohio Supreme Court considers future of judicial deference

What’s the story? 

A case before the Ohio Supreme Court could determine the future of judicial deference in the state.

In TWISM Enterprises LLC v. State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors, the Hamilton County Court of Appeals deferred to the Ohio Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors’ interpretation of its engineering certification rules, which denied TWISM Enterprises’ application to provide professional engineering services because the company’s designated licensed engineer was an independent contractor rather than an employee. TWISM Enterprises appealed the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that the agency’s interpretation of the governing statute was flawed because the law does not specify that the licensed engineer must be an employee of the business.

The Ohio Supreme Court had yet to set a date for argument in the case as of May 13, 2022.

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The return of sue and settle practices at the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan issued a memorandum in March revoking former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s 2017 directive that ended sue and settle practices at the agency. Pruitt had argued that sue and settle (when a federal agency is sued by an interested party, declines to defend itself in court, and negotiates a settlement with the plaintiff in a non-adversarial process) amounted to regulation by litigation behind closed doors. 

Regan departed from Pruitt’s position in the memorandum, arguing in part that sue and settle practices serve to preserve agency resources by avoiding expensive litigation:

“In enacting environmental laws, Congress included tools to ensure that the EPA carries out its vital mission to protect human health and the environment for all. In environmental statutes, and in tandem with the Administrative Procedure Act, Congress commonly has adopted provisions authorizing judicial action against the EPA, such as citizen suits to enforce deadlines and judicial review processes related to final agency action. At the same time, parties, including federal agencies. frequently enter into settlements to avoid expensive and resource-intensive litigation, where appropriate. Settlements can preserve resources of the parties and the courts; in many instances they can be the most practical, economical and efficient path forward while also serving the public interest. Appropriate settlement of environmental claims against the EPA preserves agency resources to focus on the vital work the agency carries out under the environmental statutes. …

[Pruitt’s] directive gave little weight to the well-understood value of settlements in appropriate cases.”

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____________________________________________________________________________

Regulatory tally

Federal Register

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s April regulatory review activity included the following actions:

  • Review of 38 significant regulatory actions. 
  • No rules approved without changes; recommended changes to 36 proposed rules; two rules withdrawn from the review process.
  • As of May 2, 2022, OIRA’s website listed 110 regulatory actions under review.
  • Want to go deeper? 


U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Rhode Island disclosure law

On April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not take up Gaspee Project v. Mederos, a lawsuit challenging Rhode Island’s campaign finance disclosure regulations. The court’s refusal to hear the appeal means a lower court ruling upholding the state’s law will stand.

Background

Rhode Island law requires organizations that spend more than $1,000 per year on independent expenditures or electioneering communications file a report with the Board of Elections disclosing all donors who contribute more than $1,000. Affected organizations must also register with the Board, provide the name and address of the person or group responsible for the expenditure, and list the names of their five largest donors from the previous year.

On Nov. 21, 2019, two 501(c)(4) groups, the Gaspee Project and the Illinois Opportunity Project, sued the Rhode Island Board of Elections, saying paid political messages were protected speech if they were not coordinated with a specific candidate’s campaign. Lawyers for the groups also said “compelled disclosure of their members and supporters could lead to substantial personal and economic repercussions” including “harassment, career damage, and even death threats for engaging and expressing their views in the public square.”

The plaintiffs challenged three specific provisions of the law: requiring groups to disclose all donors contributing $1,000 or more, registering with the Board and providing the name and address of the person or group paying for advertisements, and listing their five largest donors from the previous year. The plaintiffs said the law’s provisions “do not withstand the requisite degree of scrutiny and, in any event, that they infringe constitutionally protected privacy, associational, and free-speech rights.” 

In August 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Mary McElroy, who was appointed by President Donald Trump (R) in 2018, dismissed the case. McElroy wrote: “The Act’s disclosure and disclaimer requirements are justified by the sufficiently important state interest of an informed electorate and any burdens on political speech that they may cause are substantially related to that state interest. The plaintiffs, therefore, cannot state a plausible claim that the Act is facially violative of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.” 

The organizations appealed the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which rejected the plaintiff’s arguments on Sept. 14, 2021. Writing for the court, Judge Bruce Marshall Selya (appointed by President Ronald Reagan (R) in 1986) said: “The Act’s disclosure requirements are narrowly tailored enough to avoid any First Amendment infirmity.” Selya also said “we hold that the challenged provisions of the Act bear a substantial relation to a sufficiently important governmental interest and are narrowly tailored enough to withstand exacting scrutiny.”

Appeal to the Supreme Court

The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 10, 2021. The appeal focused only on the top-five donor disclaimer provision of the law. The plaintiffs said “the requirement to substitute the government’s speech for the group’s own violates the First Amendment..because it forces speakers to adopt views with which they may disagree.” The Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s petition on April 25 without comment.

Reactions

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha (D) said, “State campaign and election finance laws exist for a reason: to inform Rhode Islanders of the sources of financial support, directly or indirectly, for candidates for public office. Such information is critical to voters evaluating the messaging they are subjected to by those spending significant sums of money to influence their decisions. An informed electorate is integral to our democracy, and the Court’s action sends a strong message in support of that principle.”

In a Campaign Legal Center news release, Senior Vice President Paul Smith said, “To reduce political corruption, we need real transparency about who is spending big money in elections and to that end, voters in Rhode Island have a right to know who is attempting to influence their votes. This denial of review from the Supreme Court of the United States means that vital right will remain in place and continue to enable Rhode Islanders to be well-informed before heading into the voting booth.”

“We are disappointed by the result and will continue to fight for free speech,” Suhr said. “Denial of [petition of certiorari] is never a reflection of the court’s view of the merits of a case,” Suhr said, adding that “[t]hese laws are being considered and adopted in other states, and we will continue to challenge them to bring this issue back in front of the court. 

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 142 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure and privacy. Of these bills, 115 are primarily focused on disclosure, and 27 are primarily focused on privacy. To reflect this distinction, the charts in this section and the recent legislative actions below are divided between disclosure legislation and privacy legislation. On the maps 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. 

Donor disclosure legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Donor privacy legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

Donor disclosure legislation

  • California AB1819: This bill would prohibit contributions from a foreign government, foreign principal, or foreign-influenced business entity.
    • Democratic sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on May 3. 
  • California AB2528: This bill would require elected officials to file reports electronically with the secretary of state, and these reports would be available for public inspection. 
    • Republican sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on May 5.
  • Colorado SB237: This bill would require a person making direct ballot issue or ballot question expenditures to report to the secretary of state and disclose their name in certain communications about a ballot issue or ballot question.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship
    • This bill passed the upper chamber on May 5. 
  • Connecticut SB00431: This bill would require committees to report referendum spending as an independent expenditure. It would also require committees to disclose donors for certain types of referendum spending.
    • Democratic sponsorship
    • This bill passed the upper chamber on May 3. 

Donor privacy legislation

  • Connecticut HB05222: This bill would repeal the requirement for paid solicitors to submit the text of planned solicitations and remove the ability of the Department of Consumer Protection to inspect contribution records upon request. 
    • Unknown sponsorship
    • This bill passed the lower chamber on May 3.

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations. 



U.S. weekly unemployment insurance claims fall to 180,000

New applications for U.S. unemployment insurance benefits fell 5,000 (2.7%) for the week ending April 23 to a seasonally adjusted 180,000. The previous week’s figure was revised up from 184,000 to 185,000. The four-week moving average as of April 23 rose to 179,750 from a revised 177,500 as of the week ending April 16.

The number of continuing unemployment insurance claims, which refers to the number of unemployed workers who filed for benefits at least two weeks ago and are actively receiving unemployment benefits, fell 1,000 from the previous week’s revised estimate to 1.408 million, the lowest level since Feb. 7, 1970.

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

Additional reading:



Disclosure Digest: Virginia and Kansas enact donor privacy bills

Virginia and Kansas enact donor privacy bills

Governors in two states enacted legislation this month to prohibit governments from disclosing nonprofit donors’ information. On April 14, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed HB2109, a bill preventing government agencies from requesting or disclosing donor information from individuals or any 501(c) organization. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed a similar bill, HB970, on April 11. 

What the bills would do

The Kansas bill enacts the Charitable Privacy Act and amends several sections of the Kansas Open Records Act. The act prohibits a public agency from requiring or requesting personal information from an individual, nonprofit, or “a current or prospective contractor or grant recipient” that would identify a person or entity as a supporter of any nonprofit organization. The act also bars agencies from releasing any personal information already in their possession. Exceptions to the bill include information gathered through a court-issued warrant, a lawful request for discovery of information in litigation, and disclosure required by existing campaign finance laws

The Virginia bill modifies sections 2.2-3705.1 and 2.2-3808 of the Virginia Code. Like the Kansas bill, it bars governments from requiring an individual, 501(c) organization, or a “bidder, offeror, contractor, or grantee of an agency” to provide donor information. The bill also prohibits public agencies from releasing any identifying information associating a person with a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits “established by or for, or in support of, a public body” are exempt from these protections.

While both laws prohibit donor disclosure, they impose different penalties for violations and their approach to donors whose information is exposed. Under the Kansas bill, violations are a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a month of jail time and a $500 fine. The Virginia bill makes violations a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

The Kansas law allows donors whose information is divulged to recover at least $7,500 for each individual case of improper disclosure and requires the state to compensate donors for attorney fees and other legal costs. The Virginia law does not compensate donors in the event of an illegal disclosure. It does enable them to obtain a court order barring the release of any additional information concerning their donations.

Legislative actions

The Kansas House Committee on Judiciary introduced HB2109 on Jan. 21, 2021, and released a report recommending its passage on Feb. 8. On Feb. 11, the House voted 87-36 to pass the bill, and it was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary the following day. The bill remained in committee until Jan. 28, 2022, when the committee recommended passage. The Senate passed the bill with amendments on Feb. 10 in a 35-5 vote. The House did not agree to the Senate amendments and requested a conference committee on March 21. The conference committee released its report on April 1. Both chambers passed the bill, as amended, with a unanimous vote in the Senate and a 92-20 vote in the House. Gov. Kelley signed the bill on April 14. 

Virginia Del. Israel O’Quinn (R) introduced HB970 on Jan. 12, and the bill was referred to the Committee on General Laws. The committee advanced the bill in a 14-7 vote on Feb. 10, and the House of Delegates passed it 55-43 on Feb. 15. In the Senate, the General Laws and Technology Committee voted 14-0 to advance the bill on Feb. 23, and the full chamber unanimously passed it on Feb. 28. Gov. Youngkin signed the legislation into law on April 11 with an effective date of July 1, 2022.

Both Kansas and Virginia have divided state governments. This means neither party controls both legislative chambers and the governorship. Kansas has a Democratic governor while Republicans hold a 29-11 Senate majority and an 86-39 House majority. Virginia has a Republican governor, Democrats have a 21-19 majority in the Senate, and Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the House of Delegates.

Reactions – Kansas

Jon Guze, senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation, said the opposition to privacy bills like HB2109 “is all about controlling the discourse and making people afraid to express their opinions.”

The conference committee report on HB2109 said the Office of the Attorney General determined the bill “could result in additional litigation against the State, requiring a defense by the OAG under the Kansas Tort Claims Act. State agencies that violate the bill’s provisions would be subject to the civil penalties and attorney fees as described in the bill, according to the OAG.”

Reactions – Virginia

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Zack Pruitt said, “Every American should be free to peacefully support causes they believe in without fear of harassment or intimidation. HB 970 is an important step in guaranteeing privacy protections for all Virginians in a manner consistent with last year’s U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta, which affirmed that the First Amendment’s promise of ‘free association’ includes the right to privacy in financial giving.”

An impact statement on HB970 released by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget said, “Barring disclosure of personal information will require all agencies covered by FOIA to redact all such information from records they produce. The process of redacting any sensitive information from all documents will be time intensive. In order to meet these new requirements some agencies may require additional personnel, as well software to perform this electronically.”

Other privacy bills 

Ballotpedia is currently tracking 27 privacy-focused bills. In addition to Kansas and Virginia, two other states, Utah and West Virginia, have enacted privacy bills in 2022. Utah HB0040 was enacted on Feb. 11 and prevents the disclosure of donor information to a governmental agency if the donor requests anonymity and the entity receiving the donation is engaged in educational, charitable, or artistic endeavors. West Virginia HB4419 was enacted on March 30 and allows candidate and campaign caucus committees to make unlimited donations to their affiliated state party executive committees or a caucus campaign committee. 

Of the remaining 23 privacy bills, 15 are in committee, one has passed the lower legislative chamber, two have passed both chambers, and five have died in committee. 

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 142 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure and privacy. Of these bills, 115 are primarily focused on disclosure, and 27 are primarily focused on privacy. To reflect this distinction, the charts in this section and the recent legislative actions below are divided between disclosure legislation and privacy legislation. On the maps 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. 

Donor disclosure legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Donor privacy legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

Donor disclosure legislation

  • California AB1819: This bill would prohibit contributions from a foreign government, foreign principal, or foreign-influenced business entity.
    • Democratic sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on April 28. 
  • California SB1352: This bill would require elected officials and campaign committees to report contributions in excess of $1,000 online to the secretary of state within 72 hours of receiving the contribution.
    • Democratic sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on April 27.
  • Colorado SB237: This bill would require a person making direct ballot issue or ballot question expenditures to report to the secretary of state and disclose their name in certain communications about a ballot issue or ballot question.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on April 28. 
  • Kansas HB2109: This bill would prohibit a state agency from requesting or releasing the personal information of donors to 501(c) organizations.
    • Unknown sponsorship
    • This bill was enacted on April 14.
  • Michigan SB0788: This bill requires campaign committees to report contributions received by an individual acting on behalf of a committee no later than five days before the closing date of any campaign statement required to be filed by the committee. An independent committee or political committee must include in the name of the committee the name of the person or persons that sponsor the committee, if any, or with whom the committee is affiliated.
    • Republican sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on April 26.

Donor privacy legislation

  • New Hampshire SB302: This bill would prohibit public agencies and bodies from disclosing any information that directly or indirectly identifies a person as a member, supporter, volunteer, or donor of financial or nonfinancial support, to any nonprofit organization and from requiring a nonprofit to disclose information about its donors.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship 
    • This bill was referred to committee on April 25. 

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations.