Update on 2019 Political Process Legislation: What Remains?

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

Now that the house of origin deadline has passed, and we are basically at the mid-point in the California Legislative Session, we can take a look at pending legislation with particular attention to the bills that will continue along the legislative process in the second house. The focus of this article is on political process legislation. The following are the major political process bills of particular interest to the California business community:

AB 902 (Levine) – FPPC regulations codified

This bill would codify FPPC regulations that relate to the following:

  • Extension of filing deadlines that fall on weekends and holidays.
  • Duty to provide notice of filing and disclosure information.
  • Definition of “spouse” to include registered domestic partner.
  • Recipient committees may designate assistant treasurers.
  • Registration statements and filing requirements of lobbyist employers.
  • Lobbyist employers who are not required to register with the Secretary of State.
  • Information that must be provided whenever an official must disclose a leasehold interest.
  • When a gift is “received” and “accepted”.
  • Clarify that the gift prohibition applies to gifts made to employees designated under a conflict of interest code and specified public officials.
  • Specify that any person who makes a gift to an official is the source of a gift unless that person is acting as an intermediary or agent.
  • Scope of audits and investigations required by the Political Reform Act.

Status: Pending in Senate fiscal committee

AB 1217 (Mullin) – Campaign disclosures

This bill would expand the definition of “advertisement” to include any general or public communication that is an “electioneering communication” or an “issue advocacy advertisement. The bill would require a “major advertiser,” which is defined as a person who has made payments for advertisements totaling $10,000 or more in a calendar year, to comply with specified disclosures regarding the source of the advertisement. The bill would change the term “top contributors” to “top funders.” The bill would define “top funders” of a major advertiser and would require an advertisement paid for by a major advertiser that is not a committee to disclose the names of the top funders to the major advertiser. This bill would clarify these provisions by further defining the term “online platform disclosed advertisement.” It would also require an advertiser to notify the online platform that the advertisement requires disclosures using a notification method chosen by the online platform. This bill would specify that violations of the disclosure requirements for electioneering communications or issue advocacy advertisements are not subject to certain fines.

Status: Pending in Senate policy committee

AB 1306 (Garcia) – Use of public resources

This bill would amend the Political Reform Act of 1974 to prohibit any elected state or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, from using or permitting others to use public resources for a campaign activity. The bill would also authorize the FPPC to impose an administrative or civil penalty against a person for a misuse of public resources for campaign activity, not to exceed $1,000 for each day on which a violation occurs, plus three times the value of the unlawful use of public resources.

Status: Held in Assembly fiscal committee

AB 1451 (Low) – Signature gathering limitations

This bill would provide that a person or organization who pays a person money or any other thing of value based on the number of signatures obtained on a state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a specified fine, imprisonment, or both that fine and imprisonment. This bill would require a person who solicits signatures for a proposed initiative measure and does not receive money or other valuable consideration for the specific purpose of soliciting signatures of electors to make additional declarations. This bill would extend the time a local elections official is required to determine the total number of signatures affixed to a petition to 10 days, and would extend the time a local elections official is required to determine the number of qualified voters who signed the petition to 35 days after receiving notice from the Secretary of State that the petition has received the signatures needed to declare the petition sufficient. The bill would require a petition for a proposed initiative measure to have printed in the one-inch space across the top of the first page of each section of the petition, in 18-point roman boldface type, the circulating title for the measure prepared by the Attorney General. The bill would additionally require a petition for a proposed initiative measure that is circulated by persons who do not receive money or other valuable consideration for the purpose of obtaining signatures of electors to be printed on white paper in a contrasting color ink. The bill also would require a petition for a proposed initiative measure that is circulated by persons who do receive money or other valuable consideration for the purpose of obtaining signatures of electors to be printed on paper of a color other than white in a contrasting color ink. This bill would additionally require an initiative petition to include a disclosure, as specified, notifying the public that the petition circulator is receiving money or other valuable consideration for the specific purpose of soliciting signatures of electors, or is a volunteer or employee of a nonprofit organization.

Status: Pending in Senate policy committee

AB 1574 (Mullin) – Monthly lobbying reports

This bill would, beginning January 1, 2021, require lobbying expenditures reports to be filed on a monthly, rather than quarterly, basis.

Status: Held in Assembly fiscal committee

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on September 13, and Governor Gavin Newsom will have 30 days to act on measures sent to him by that date. We’ll check back after final actions take place on these and other measures.

 

 

 

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