Government Administration and Elections Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5021

Title:

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE GOVERNOR'S RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING THE CITIZENS' ELECTION PROGRAM.

Vote Date:

3/17/2010

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/22/2010

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Government Administration and Elections Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

JFS LCO # 6205 amends sections 1-15.

To explain the rules and regulations concerning the Citizens Election Program

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Albert P. Lenge, Executive Director & Beth A. Rotman, Director, State Elections Enforcement Commission support this bill: “Today I urge you to move quickly to preserve the Citizens' Election Program, by protecting the fund and making necessary changes to the program.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Christine Horrigan, Government Director, League of Women Voters, supports this bill. “The League applauds the Governor and GAE Committee's commitment to 'fixing' the Citizens' Election Program so that it passes constitutional muster.”

Nancy DiNardo, Chairwoman, CT-DSCC supports this bill, however wants the committee to acknowledge that many campaign treasurer's found difficulty in reporting. She also notes that “The one major area of contention has to do with the prohibition of state contractors and lobbyists from contributing to events as well as attending events in their communities. This particular prohibition has had a significant impact on many Committees where longstanding members have not been able to fully participate in Committee activities. ”

Paul Filson, Director, Service Employees International Union supports this bill, stating that “Many candidates that I spoke with in 2008 told me that they would not have run were it not for the program that provided enough money to run competitive campaigns There were also several competitive primaries that would not have been possible without public money.”

Linda Schofield, State Representative, 16th District “I hope you will consider including a provision for instant run-off voting in whatever bill you vote out.”

Karen Hobert Flynn, Vice President for State Operations, Common Cause “Although public financing won't match dollar for dollar every penny spent on independent expenditures, it will give candidates enough resources to be competitive and get their message out. It is the only viable option moving forward to free politicians ”

Edith Prague, State Senator, 19th District; Jenn Hatch, Program Advocate, ConnPIRG; Karen Schuessler, Director, Citizens for Economic Opportunity; Len Miller, Treasurer for Dan Malloy; Martin Mador, Legislative Chair, Sierra Club; Mary Glassman, First Selectman, Simsbury; Peter Thor, Director for Policy and Planning, AFSCME; Phil Sherwood, Deputy Director, C.C.A.G.; Tessa Marquis also support this bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Andrew Schneider, Executive Director, A.C.L.U. of Connecticut, is opposed to this bill because it creates a “disincentive for non-participating candidates and independent groups to spend money in political races because the money they spend will trigger more public resources for major party candidates.

John Corky Mazurek, State Representative, 80th District, is opposed to this bill because the program has too many problems however, offers these suggestions: “All candidates that qualify by delegate convention or petition signatures should be able to qualify for the same grant amount, Contributions raised to qualify for grants must be verifiable as district/town residents, Further define what the Committee would restrict in the area of coordinated expenditures, Issue strict guidelines including timelines to SEEC to investigate election complaints. Develop an appeals procrss other than Connecticut's overburdened court system in the event of a dispute, and Issue strict guidelines including timelines to SEEC to conduct electronic filing audits.”

R. Bartley Halloran, Esq., Association of Connecticut Lobbyists: is opposed to this bill because while “it attempts to remedy the constitutional flaws in the pubic financing laws, unfortunately they do nothing to restore the basic rights of thousands of Connecticut citizens.”

William A. Hamzy, State Representative, 78th District opposes this bill. He states “I am sure you are aware that I and many others feel the election grant funds are better utilized towards lowering our current budget deficit” at this time because the funds are better utilized in lowering the current budget deficit.

Christopher C. Healy, Chairman, Connecticut Republican Party “The Connecticut Republican party will continue its fight against any plan that discriminates or prevents the free and open exercise of political speech and action. We would hope the committee would agree the answer lies in more competition and not a taxpayer subsidized bureaucracy where the outcomes are preordained and fixed by those who know little about free speech and the competition of ideas.”

William L. Jenkins: is opposed to this bill because candidates are not treated equally. He states “This bill lowers those petition thresholds from 10% 15% and 20% to 3% 4% and 5% respectively. Unfortunately, I'm of the opinion that Judge Underhill is still going to determine once again that you're continuing to discriminate against petitioning minor party candidates if you were to pass this bill in its present form. ”

Alejandro Pedreira states “Please oppose the changes in presented in this bill which will decrease the amount of grant money given to candidates using the Citizens' Election Program. The Citizens' Election Program is making a dramatic difference in opening up the election process and changing the way government operates in Connecticut.”

Reported by: Gerald Cope

Date: 29Mar10