Campaign Finance and Elections

LWVAL Action Priority Level II - Monitoring occurs; action dependent on opportunity and available resources.

Click a bill to see sponsor(s), summary (including link to full text), League action and justification for that action, and progress of the bill through the legislative process.

thumbs_up_icon.jpg = LWVAL's support for the legislation.
thumbs_down_icon.jpg = LWVAL's opposition to the legislation.
green-right-arrow.jpg = new bill activity; change from previous week's report such as new progress in the legislature and/or League action. Bill may be one newly added to the report. These updates are in green font.

LWVAL has taken a position on this bill:

thumbs_up_icon.jpgHB366 - Primary elections, automatic recount under certain conditions required, procedures, waiver by candidates, costs, Sec. 17-16-20 am'd.

Sponsor(s): Representatives W. Johnson, Rich, Sanderford, Patterson, Harper, Hill, Greer, Treadaway and McCutcheon

Summary/Synopsis: This bill would provide an automatic recount in certain primary
elections if a candidate is defeated by no more than one-half of one percent of the votes cast for the office as certified by the appropriate election officer. It would authorize a candidate to waive the recount process within a specified time frame and would provide for the payment of costs associated with the recount. This bill would also specify minimum safeguards to be observed during the recount and would provide that if the recount results declare a winner other than the person initially certified, a person may contest the election.

League Action and Justification: LWVAL supports HB366. The legislation enhances transparency of elections and sets a statewide standard.

Bill Progress in Legislature:
02/28/2013: Read for the first time and referred to the
04/04/2013: 2nd Reading and placed on the calendar with 1 Amendment (151262-1); CC&E 1st Amendment Offered; pending 3rd Reading and Favorable from CC&E with 1 Amendment.

04/24/2013: 3rd Reading Passed; CC&E Amendment (151262-1) Offered; Motion to Adopt adopted (93-1-0); Roberts Amendment (152814-1) Offered; J. Williams motion to Table lost (11-66-3) lost; Motion to Adopt adopted (91-2-0); Motion to Read a 3rd Time and Pass adopted (82-8-1); Lee and Scott intended to vote “Yes:’ Engrossed.

05/02/2013: Read for the first time and referred to the Smitherman motion to rerefer; Williams motion to Table Smitherman motion to rerefer adopted (18-7-0).

Note: The Roberts Amendment requires that “if the election is a party primary, the party shall bear the costs of the recount.”

05/09/2013: Read for second time in second house (Senate) and placed on the calendar. Marsh motion to table Marsh motion to recommit adopted; pending 3rd reading and Favorable from CCFE&E.

LWVAL is monitoring these bills:

HB487 - Initiative, constitutional amendments, proposed by people, authorized, Legislature may offer alternate proposal, const. amend.

Sponsor(s): Representatives Ball, Hill and Beckman

Summary/Synopsis: Constitutional Amendment

This bill would propose an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 to provide that the people also may propose the enactment of general laws and constitutional amendments by an initiative measure subject to the same limitations imposed on the Legislature and that the Legislature may offer an alternate proposal.

League Action and Justification: LWVAL is monitoring HB487 unless the bill moves this year.
This is the same amendment introduced by Representative Ball since 2004, sometimes alone, sometimes with others, and once in 2010 with ten or more co-sponsors. Most of these bills never had a second reading. The one time it came up for a vote, it was indefinitely postponed.

Two changes this year’s version are: (1) The $1,000 fee for original filing will be refunded, less administrative expenses, if the initiative is successfully enacted and (2) If an initiative fails to be adopted, an identical initiative may not be submitted sooner than two years after the failure, a League position.

The bill seems to agree with the intent of the League proposals, in VII under Legislative Positions, for any initiative that might be adopted. It includes most of the safeguards detailed for the process, but omits those League recommends to prevent abuses by collectors of signatures.

Major areas of agreement with League cover: a) number of signatures and time limits for the original petition; b) the construction of the official text of the proposal and a ballot summary by the Alabama Law Institute upon request; c) later review by the Legislative Reference Service and the Legislative Fiscal Office. An unbiased statement is required for the official petition.

The role for the Legislature is the one League supports. The official version of the original proposal is submitted in one session to allow legislators to sponsor it. If no action is taken, the gathering of signatures for the official petition is started and the result certified by the Secretary of State. In the next session, the proposal is “enacted” by a third reading in each house. No modifications are allowed, but the Legislature may offer an alternative bill. Both the original proposal and the Legislature’s alternative are on the ballot for voters’ choice. The one with most votes becomes law. The League’s preference for of a larger majority for constitutional amendments is not included in the bill.

The chief weakness of the process for signature collection is one discussed in League’s study—how to prevent groups with a national agenda from “buying” an initiative in Alabama, using some local person or group as a cover. The League position requires: a) “clear identification of sponsors” from the first, instead of only one registered agent to be responsible to the Secretary of State and b) that all organizations gathering signatures periodically file financial disclosure forms. This bill says only that the “individual agent” must file “any elections report and disclosures required by election laws in the same manner as a candidate for elected office.” Our recommendations are designed to prevent stealth sponsors and attempts to restrain paid signature gathers who become aggressive rather than scrupulous to increase their pay. It is possible that the Secretary of State’s regulations and oversight might prevent such abuses that have occurred elsewhere.

Bill Progress in Legislature:
3/20/2013: Read for the first time and referred to the

HB463 - Public Service Commission, members, elected or appointed to fill unexpired term, requirement that no two members from same congressional district removed, Sec. 37-1-3 am'd.

Sponsor(s): Representative Greeson

Summary/Synopsis: Under existing law, no two members of the Public Service Commission (PSC) may be elected or appointed from the same congressional district. This bill would remove the prohibition on the election or appointment of members of the Public Service Commission from the same congressional district.

League Action and Justification: LWVAL is monitoring HB463.
The LWVAL has no position on this issue; however, since the bill would make it possible for only one area of the state to be represented on the PSC even though the entities that deliver services to the public can be regionally based rather than statewide in operations, the bill is being monitor to keep the members and the public informed.

Bill Progress in Legislature:
Read for the first time and referred to the
04/10/2013: Read for the 2nd time and placed on the calendar; pending 3rd Reading and Favorable from CC&E.

05/07/13: Indefinitely postponed in house of origin.

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