What’s Happening in the States? February 2016 Edition

Although we’ve reached the cold months of winter, states and municipalities have stayed hot in their fight to reduce the influence of money in politics. Here are the reform fights we’re keeping an eye on in 2016:

  • In Arkansas, advocates are gathering signatures to put  a money in politics reform initiative on the ballot. The ballot initiative  would revamp disclosure requirements for donations to political candidates. The referendum specifies that all donations made within 60 days of an election must be reported within 48 hours. It also calls for the Arkansas Congressional delegation to support an amendment to the Constitution clarifying the state’s right to regulate limits on campaign contributions. If approved, Arkansas residents will gain greater insight into who is funding and supporting candidates, a vital tool to ensure fairness in our elections.
  • Arizona residents have filed an initiative for a constitutional amendment that would alter the disclosure requirements for political candidates, requiring  all donations over $10,000, regardless of the origin, must be publicly reported within 24 hours. Random, public audits will be conducted by file officers, and violators will be subject to prosecution. Reforms like this are crucial to providing clear information to voters while limiting the influence of “dark money” in elections.
  • Idaho lawmakers have introduced a measure that would require all state candidates to file campaign finance reports in an attempt to promote greater transparency in all elections. Currently, public action committees and school board candidates in districts with less than 500 people are not required to file campaign finance reports. This legislation would create an equal standard for candidates running for office.
  • A bill introduced by the Miami-Dade County Commissioner would require local candidates to fully disclose which political action committees they are fundraising from, including who donated, the amount received, and the relationship between organizations.
  • A public financing system has been introduced by two council members in Howard County, Maryland that, if passed, would take effect in 2022. The measure would create a finance system that matches small donations with public funds, empowering ordinary citizens while promoting greater participation and accountability from civic leaders.  
  • A bill in the Washington State Legislature focuses on increasing transparency in elections by requiring political action committees to disclose donations and independent expenditures. By also closing various loopholes, non-profit organizations participating heavily in the political process will be held to the same standard as average citizens.