PA 16-203—sSB 342

Government Administration and Elections Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING ELECTRONIC FILING OF CAMPAIGN REPORTS

SUMMARY: Beginning July 1, 2017, this act lowers, from $250,000 to $1,000, the receipt and expenditure threshold at which statewide office candidate committees must file periodic campaign finance statements electronically with the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) using its web-based program, eCRIS (the electronic Campaign Reporting Information System). It also:

1. extends the electronic filing requirement to specified exploratory committees, candidate committees, party committees, political committees (known as PACs), and persons making independent expenditures (IEs);

2. expands the requirement to include all financial disclosure statements these committees or persons must file to comply with state campaign finance law or the Citizens' Election Program (CEP);

3. authorizes SEEC to waive the electronic filing requirement for good cause, upon receiving a written request; and

4. modifies what constitutes a timely filing for hard copy financial disclosure statements filed with SEEC.

The act also makes technical and conforming changes, primarily to reflect the implementation of eCRIS. For example, it eliminates references to a SEEC-created “software” program and replaces them with a “web-based” program. It also eliminates an obsolete provision allowing mandatory electronic filings to be made using alternative media forms (e. g. , disks or tapes).

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage for the provision on timely filing of hard copy financial disclosure statements and July 1, 2017 for the electronic filing provisions.

ELECTRONIC FILING

Covered Committees and Individuals

Under prior law, statewide office candidate committees that raised or spent $250,000 or more during an election campaign had to file periodic campaign finance statements electronically with SEEC. There was no electronic filing requirement for other committees (candidate, party, or PAC).

The act lowers the electronic filing threshold to $1,000 and extends the requirement to (1) exploratory committees for statewide office candidates that raise or spend the threshold amount or more and (2) exploratory and candidate committees for legislative office and judge of probate candidates that raise or spend the threshold amount or more.

The act also extends the electronic filing requirement to:

1. state central, legislative caucus, and legislative leadership committees;

2. town committees and PACs that register with SEEC and (a) raise or spend $1,000 or more during the current calendar year or (b) raised or spent $1,000 or more during the last regular election cycle; and

3. persons and committees that make or obligate to make IEs exceeding $1,000 in the aggregate and are required to file financial disclosure statements with SEEC.

By law, unchanged by the act, committee treasurers file campaign finance disclosure statements. If no committee exists, as is sometimes the case with persons making IEs, then the individual responsible for making the expenditure files the statements.

Waiver. The act authorizes SEEC to waive the electronic filing requirement, for good cause, for any committee or person listed above. It may do so upon receiving a written request from the committee treasurer or person making or obligating to make an IE.

Covered Financial Disclosure Statements

For covered committees and individuals, the act expands the electronic filing requirement to include all financial disclosure statements they must file to comply with state campaign finance law, including the CEP. In addition to periodic campaign finance statements, these include declarations of excess expenditures and the cumulative itemized accounting that accompanies a CEP grant application.

Resubmitting Reports

Existing law requires statewide office candidate committees that reach the electronic filing threshold during an election campaign to electronically resubmit any previously filed statements that were not in electronic form. The act extends this requirement to (1) candidate and exploratory committees for legislative office and judge of probate candidates and (2) exploratory committees for statewide office.

Permissive Electronic Filings

By law and under the act, candidate committees for statewide or legislative office, or judge of probate, and party committees or PACs that file periodic campaign finance statements with SEEC may do so electronically even if they are not subject to the electronic filing requirement. The act extends this authorization to cover all financial disclosure statements required pursuant to state campaign finance law, including the CEP.

TIMELY FILING FOR HARD COPIES

By law, financial disclosure statements filed as hard copies are considered timely when SEEC receives them by 5: 00 p. m. on the filing deadline. Previously, SEEC could not levy a penalty for failure to timely file a hard copy if a treasurer had a return receipt from the U. S. Postal Service, or a similar receipt from a commercial delivery service, confirming that the commission received the statement by the deadline. The act instead prohibits SEEC from levying a penalty if the receipt confirms that the statement was delivered, or should have been delivered, by the deadline.

OLR Tracking: KS; TA; PF; cmg