California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 1494


Introduced by Assembly Member Levine

(Coauthors: Senators Allen and McGuire)

February 27, 2015


An act to amend Section 85500 of, and to add Section 12179.2 to the Government Code, relating to the Political Reform Act of 1974.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1494, as introduced, Levine. Political Reform Act of 1974: independent expenditure tax.

Existing law designates the Secretary of State as the chief elections officer of the state and requires him or her to see that elections are efficiently conducted and that state election laws are enforced. Existing law also authorizes the Secretary of State in certain circumstances to assist the county elections officer in discharging his or her duties.

The Political Reform Act of 1974 provides for the comprehensive regulation of campaign financing, including requiring the filing of reports of contributions and expenditures. Among its provisions, the act requires a committee that makes an independent expenditure, as defined, of $1,000 or more during an election cycle in connection with a candidate for elective state office or a state ballot measure to disclose that expenditure by filing a report online or electronically with the Secretary of State.

This bill would require a committee subject to the independent expenditure disclosure requirement to pay a tax at the rate of an undetermined percentage of the amount of each independent expenditure reported to the Secretary of State within 5 days of filing the report. The bill would require the Secretary of State to establish a fund with the tax revenues and allocate those funds to the Fair Political Practices Commission and local elections offices for the purpose of increasing transparency in political campaigns, civic engagement, and voter registration and turnout.

Existing law makes a willful violation of the Political Reform Act of 1974 a misdemeanor and subject offenders to criminal penalties.

The bill would impose a state-mandated local program by creating additional crimes.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

The Political Reform Act of 1974, an initiative measure, provides that the Legislature may amend the act to further the act’s purposes upon a 23 vote of each house and compliance with specified procedural requirements.

This bill would declare that it furthers the purposes of the act.

Vote: 23. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

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SECTION 1.  

Section 12179.2 is added to the Government
2Code
, to read:

3

12179.2.  

(a) The Secretary of State shall establish a fund for
4the purpose of increasing transparency in political campaigns, civic
5engagement, and voter registration and turnout and deposit
6revenues received pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 85500
7into the fund. Upon appropriation by the Legislature, the Secretary
8of State shall allocate these funds to the Fair Political Practices
9Commission for the purpose of increasing transparency in political
10campaigns and to local elections offices, through a competitive
11grant program, to increase voter registration and turnout.

12(b) Notwithstanding Section 10231.5, the Secretary of State
13 shall report to the Legislature and to the Department of Finance
14by March 31 of each year on the allocation and use of fund moneys
15specified in subdivision (a). The Secretary of State shall also post
16this information on his or her Internet Web site.

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SEC. 2.  

Section 85500 of the Government Code is amended
2to read:

3

85500.  

(a) In addition to any other report required by this title,
4a committee, including a political party committee, that is required
5to file reports pursuant to Section 84605 and that makes
6independent expenditures of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more
7during an election cycle in connection with a candidate for elective
8state office or state ballot measure, shall file online or electronically
9a report with the Secretary of State disclosing the making of the
10independent expenditure. This report shall disclose the same
11information required by subdivision (b) of Section 84204 and shall
12be filed within 24 hours of the time the independent expenditure
13is made.

14(b) An expenditurebegin delete mayend deletebegin insert shallend insert not be considered independent,
15and shall be treated as a contribution from the person making the
16expenditure to the candidate on whose behalf, or for whose benefit,
17the expenditure is made, if the expenditure is made under any of
18the following circumstances:

19(1) The expenditure is made with the cooperation of, or in
20consultation with, the candidate on whose behalf, or for whose
21benefit, the expenditure is made, or any controlled committee or
22any agent of the candidate.

23(2) The expenditure is made in concert with, or at the request
24or suggestion of, the candidate on whose behalf, or for whose
25benefit, the expenditure is made, or any controlled committee or
26any agent of the candidate.

27(3) The expenditure is made under any arrangement,
28coordination, or direction with respect to the candidate or the
29candidate’s agent and the person making the expenditure.

begin insert

30(c) A committee subject to this section shall pay a tax at the rate
31of ___ percent (__ %) of the amount of each independent
32expenditure reported pursuant to subdivision (a) to the Secretary
33of State within 5 days of the filing of the report pursuant to
34subdivision (a).

end insert
35

SEC. 3.  

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
36Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
37the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
38district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
39infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
40for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of
P4    1the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within
2the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
3Constitution.

4

SEC. 4.  

The Legislature finds and declares that this bill furthers
5the purposes of the Political Reform Act of 1974 within the
6meaning of subdivision (a) of Section 81012 of the Government
7Code.



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