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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.626

Introduced by   Representatives Flory of Pittsford, Acinapura of Brandon, Bostic of St. Johnsbury, Canfield of Fair Haven, Errecart of Shelburne, Helm of Castleton, Hube of Londonderry, Johnson of Canaan, Komline of Dorset, Krawczyk of Bennington, LaVoie of Swanton, McAllister of Highgate, McDonald of Berlin, McNeil of Rutland Town, Peaslee of Guildhall, Scheuermann of Stowe, Shaw of Derby, Valliere of Barre City, Westman of Cambridge and Wright of Burlington

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Elections; campaign finance

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to:  (1) reestablish the limits on contributions for candidates to those existing prior to No. 64 of the Acts of 1997; (2) provide a mechanism for adjusting those contribution limits for inflation; (3) require that the online database of candidate information be searchable according to certain criteria; (4) require the reporting of expenditures of $1,000.00 or greater within 48 hours; and (5) allow candidates and political committees to file campaign finance reports electronically.

AN ACT RELATING TO CONTRIBUTION LIMITS, REPORTING, AND ACCESS TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE INFORMATION

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  17 V.S.A. § 2805 is amended to read:

§ 2805.  LIMITATIONS OF CONTRIBUTIONS

(a)  A candidate for state representative or local office shall not accept contributions totaling more than $200.00 $1,000.00 from a single source, political committee or political party in any two-year general election cycle. A candidate for state senator or county office shall not accept contributions totaling more than $300.00 from a single source, political committee or political party in any two-year general election cycle.  A candidate for the office of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, auditor of accounts, or attorney general shall not accept contributions totaling more than $400.00 from a single source, political committee or political party in any two-year general election cycle.  A political committee, other than a political committee of a candidate, or a political party shall not accept contributions totaling more than $2,000.00 from a single source, political committee or political party in any two-year general election cycle.

(b)  A single source, political committee or political party shall not contribute more to a candidate, political committee or political party than the candidate, political committee or political party is permitted to accept under subsection (a) of this section.  A candidate or political committee shall not accept contributions totaling more than $3,000.00 from a political committee in any election.

(c)  A candidate, political party or political committee shall not accept, in any two-year general election cycle, more than 25 percent of total contributions from contributors who are not residents of the state of Vermont or from political committees or parties not organized in the state of Vermont.

(d)  A candidate shall not accept a monetary contribution in excess of $50.00 unless made by check, credit or debit card, or other electronic transfer.

(e)  A candidate, political party, or political committee shall not knowingly accept a contribution which is not directly from the contributor, but was transferred to the contributor by another person for the purpose of transferring the same to the candidate, or otherwise circumventing the provisions of this chapter.  It shall be a violation of this chapter for a person to make a contribution with the explicit or implicit understanding that the contribution will be transferred in violation of this subsection.

(f)(d)  This section shall not be interpreted to limit the amount a candidate or his or her immediate family may contribute to his or her own campaign. For purposes of this subsection, “immediate family” means individuals related to the candidate in the first, second, or third degree of consanguinity.

(g)(e)  The limitations on contributions established by this section shall not apply to contributions made for the purpose of advocating a position on a public question, including a constitutional amendment.

(h)  For purposes of this section, the term “candidate” includes the candidate’s political committee.

(f)  The contribution limitations contained in this section shall be adjusted for inflation by increasing them based on the Consumer Price Index.  Increases shall be rounded up to the nearest $10.00.  Increases shall be effective for the first two‑year general election cycle beginning after the general election held in 2008.  On or before July 1, 2009, the secretary of state shall calculate and publish the amount of each limitation that will apply to the election cycle in which July 1, 2009 falls.  On July 1 of each subsequent odd‑numbered year, the secretary shall publish the amount of each limitation for the election cycle in which that publication falls.

Sec. 2.  17 V.S.A. § 2810(a) is amended to read:

(a)  For each two-year general election cycle, the secretary of state shall develop and continuously update a publicly accessible campaign database.  The database shall contain at least the following information for all candidates for statewide and county office and for the general assembly: for candidates receiving public financing grants, the amount of each grant awarded; the information contained in campaign finance reports filed under this chapter; and all reports of mass media activity expenditures filed under section 2883 of this title.  The database shall also include campaign finance reports filed by candidates for federal office.  The information in the database, together with any biographical sketches and position statements submitted to the secretary of state by such candidates, shall be made available to the public through the Vermont state home page on-line service, or through printed reports from the secretary in response to a public request within 14 days of the date of the request.  The database shall be searchable according to donor, recipient, zip code, city, and state and shall allow the user to group the results of a search by donor or recipient.

Sec. 3.  17 V.S.A. § 2811(h) and (i) are added to read:

(h)  In addition to any other reports required to be filed under this chapter, each candidate for state office or for the general assembly who makes an expenditure of $1,000.00 or greater shall report that expenditure within 48 hours to the secretary of state.

(i)  The secretary of state shall allow candidates and political committees to file reports under this section electronically.

Sec. 4.  2 V.S.A. § 264(k) is added to read:

(k)  In addition to any other reports required to be filed under this chapter, any person who makes an expenditure of $1,000.00 or greater for the purpose of influencing legislative action shall report that expenditure within 48 hours to the secretary of state.

Sec. 5.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us