BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON
          ELECTIONS AND CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
                              Senator Ben Allen, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:             AB 990         Hearing Date:    8/18/15    
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          |Author:    |Bonilla                                              |
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          |Version:   |7/15/15                                              |
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          |Urgency:   |Yes                    |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|Darren Chesin                                        |
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                Subject:  Political Reform Act of 1974: advertisement  
                                    disclosures.

           DIGEST
           
          This bill imposes new requirements regarding font size, font  
          style, and location, for disclosure statements on specified  
          political advertisements.

           ANALYSIS
           
           Existing law  :


          1)Requires any advertisement for or against any ballot measure  
            to include a disclosure statement identifying any person whose  
            cumulative contributions are $50,000 or more, as specified.

          2)Requires an advertisement supporting or opposing a candidate  
            or ballot measure that is paid for by an independent  
            expenditure, to include a disclosure statement that identifies  
            both of the following:

             a)   The name of the committee making the independent  
               expenditure.

             b)   The names of the persons from whom the committee making  
               the independent expenditure has received its two highest  
               cumulative contributions of $50,000 or more during the  
               12-month period prior to the expenditure, as specified.







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          3)Requires an advertisement supporting or opposing a candidate  
            that is paid for by an independent expenditure must include a  
            statement that it was not authorized by a candidate or a  
            committee controlled by a candidate.


          4)Requires specified advertisements for or against a ballot  
            measure that include individuals who have been paid for their  
            appearance to include a disclosure statement stating  
            "(spokesperson's name) is being paid by this campaign or its  
            donors" in highly visible Roman font.

          5)Requires specified advertisements for or against a ballot  
            measure that include individuals who have been paid for their  
            appearance that states or suggests that the individual is a  
            member of a specified occupation to include a disclosure  
            statement stating "Persons portraying members of an occupation  
            in this advertisement are compensated spokespersons not  
            necessarily employed in those occupations" in highly visible  
            Roman font.

          6)Requires the aforementioned disclosure statements to be  
            printed clearly and legibly in no less than 10-point type  
            where applicable.


           This bill  :

          1)Requires that any of the disclosure statements described above  
            shall be printed in no less than 18-point, bold, sans serif  
            type font instead of 10-point type.

          2)Requires an advertisement supporting or opposing a candidate  
            that is paid for by an independent expenditure to specifically  
            include the following statement: 

             "This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by the  
            candidate or a 
                committee controlled by the candidate."

          3)Requires that when included in a mailed advertisement paid for  
            by an independent expenditure, this statement must be located  








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            within one quarter of an inch of the recipient's name and  
            address as printed on the advertisement and further requires  
            that text of the statement must be contained in a box with an  
            outline that has a line weight of at least 5.25 pt.  The text,  
            the interior of the box, the outline of the box, and the  
            background of the advertisement must be in contrasting colors.

          4)Includes an urgency clause.

           BACKGROUND
           
          Definitions of "Advertisement" and "Independent Expenditure."   
          Existing law defines "advertisement" as any general or public  
          advertisement which is authorized and paid for by a person or  
          committee for the purpose of supporting or opposing a candidate  
          for elective office or a ballot measure or ballot measures.   
          "Advertisement" does not include a communication from an  
          organization other than a political party to its members, a  
          campaign button smaller than 10 inches in diameter, a bumper  
          sticker smaller than 60 square inches, or other advertisement as  
          determined by regulations of the Fair Political Practices  
          Commission (FPPC).

          "Independent expenditure" is defined as an expenditure made by  
          any person in connection with a communication which expressly  
          advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified  
          candidate or the qualification, passage or defeat of a clearly  
          identified measure, or taken as a whole and in context,  
          unambiguously urges a particular result in an election but which  
          is not made to or at the behest of the affected candidate or  
          committee.


           Proliferation of Independent Expenditures  .  According to a  
          November 4, 2013 report by California Common Sense,  
          (  http://cacs.org/research/independent-expenditures-the-new-money- 
          in-california-politics/  ), since the first campaign contribution  
          limits were enacted in the 1970s, political money has  
          increasingly taken the form of independent expenditures,  
          political campaign spending that is not coordinated with a  
          candidate's official campaign.  Though independent expenditures  
          have only received significant national attention in the wake of  
          the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC ruling in 2010,  
          they have been a growing factor in California politics since  








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          Proposition 34 (2000) limited direct contributions to  
          candidates.  $220 million in independent expenditures was spent  
          on candidate races in California between 2000 and late May 2012.  
           More recently, according to the Sacramento Bee, the 2015  
          special elections to fill the vacancy in Senate District 7  
          generated $12.1 million in campaign spending, almost $9.6  
          million of which was in the form of independent expenditures.  

           COMMENTS
           
           1)According to the author  :  Campaign spending has significantly  
            increased with the advent of independent expenditures.   
            Leading up to the November 4, 2014 California state elections,  
            independent expenditures had spent almost $32 million in that  
            election cycle.  It is vital for organizations and interest  
            groups to be able to communicate their views to voters and  
            more often than not, independent expenditures communicate with  
            voters by mailing advertisements.  When voters receive tons of  
            advertisements from outside interest groups, in addition to  
            advertisements from the candidate themselves, it becomes  
            difficult for the voter to easily identify exactly who the  
            message is coming from. 

          The Political Reform Act requires all advertisements to include  
            a statement detailing who paid for the advertisement.   
            However, voters do not spend enough time looking at the  
            advertisement to notice nor read the statement.  When voters  
            do not notice the disclosure statement it becomes unclear  
            which advertisements are from the candidate and which ones are  
            from independent expenditures.  It is important that voters  
            know which advertisements come from the candidate themselves.

          In recent elections, voters received over 60 campaign  
            advertisements.  This significantly decreased the likelihood  
            the voter would examine the advertisement long enough to  
            notice the disclaimer and created uncertainty regarding the  
            candidate's own message.  AB 990 will fix this problem by  
            making it simple for voters to notice and read the disclosure  
            statement.

          Current law requires the disclosure statement to be printed  
            clearly, in no less than 10-point font and in a "conspicuous  
            manner."  The Fair Political Practices Commission defined  
            "conspicuous manner" as printed in a contrasting color.








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          AB 990 updates the way the disclosure statement must be  
            displayed in order to increase the likelihood that voters see  
            the statement.

          The font is not big enough and the statement is often hidden at  
            the very bottom of the advertisement where the voter may not  
            look.  AB 990 increases the font size and requires the  
            disclosure to be printed inside an outlined box.  The box must  
            be a contrasting color to the background of the advertisement  
            and the text must be in a contrasting color to the box.  The  
            statement must be located within one quarter of an inch from  
            the recipient's name and address on the advertisement.

           2)Suggested Amendment  .  This bill requires that specified  
            disclosure statements appear in no less than 18-point, bold,  
            sans serif type font.  A sans serif font is one that does not  
            have the small projecting features called "serifs" at the end  
            of strokes.  However, the existing provision of law regarding  
            disclosure statements for advertisements featuring paid  
            spokespersons requires that those statements use a Roman font.  
             Since Roman fonts include serifs, staff suggests that this  
            bill be amended to rectify this conflict by striking the  
            reference to Roman font in the aforementioned existing  
            provision.  Doing so would clarify that the sans serif font  
            requirement in this bill would be the standard.

           3)Type Sizes and Fonts  .  For illustration purposes, the  
            following is printed in a 10-point Times New Roman type font  
            which would comply with current law:

              "This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by the  
            candidate or a committee controlled 
                 by the candidate."

            The following is written in 18-point Arial font (an example of  
            a sans serif type font) and placed in a box similar to the one  
            required by this bill:

          This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by the  
          candidate or a committee controlled by the candidate.
          
           PRIOR ACTION
          








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          |Assembly Floor:                       |78 - 0                     |
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          |Assembly Appropriations Committee:    |17 - 0                     |
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          |Assembly Health Committee:            |19 - 0                     |
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           Note:  This bill was completely rewritten in the Senate  
          therefore these votes do not reflect the current version.

           POSITIONS
           
          Sponsor: Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters

           Support: None received

           Oppose:  None received
                                          
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