At the federal level, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen have indicated that they plan to release a bill this week to pare back free speech protections granted by Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. CCP’s press release on the legislative framework released by Schumer and Van Hollen is here.
Several state legislatures are examining bills addressing Citizens United. Some would simply conform state laws and constitutions to reflect the Supreme Court’s ruling that they government may not prohibit corporations, unions and nonprofit advocacy groups from engaging in independent speech advocating for or against candidates.
The National Conference of State Legislatures posted a round-up of states planning or announcing responses to Citizens United. NCSL also includes a handy summary of states that had pre-Citizens United bans on corporate or union independent expenditures:
- Connecticut, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia — Legislators and state officials are reviewing the case and have not yet decided how to proceed.
- Alaska — The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants the committee to introduce a bill that would require disclosure of corporate spending on ads.
- Arizona — SB 1444, introduced on February 16, 2010, would require corporations and labor unions that make independent expenditures in candidate campaigns to register and file disclosure reports.
- Colorado — Governor Bill Ritter has asked the state’s Supreme Sourt to evaluate the constitutionality of two provisions of the state’s constitution that appear to be directly affected by Citizens United. Also, the state Republican Party has announced its intention to file suit against Colorado’s law. It is possible that the suit could challenge a broader scope of the law than the two sections that are affected by Citizens United.
- Iowa — The director of the Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board has sent an e-mail to legislators telling them that Citizens United effectively overturns Iowa law. SF 2354, introduced on February 15, 2010, requires corporations to obtain permission from a majority of their shareholders prior to making an independent expenditure, requires corporations to report their independent expenditures to the Ethics and Campaign Finance Disclosure Board, prohibits coordination between candidates and corporations, and requires certain attributions on corporate-funded advertisements.
- Maryland — HB 616, introduced on February 3, 2010, would require stockholder approval and public disclosure of corporate independent expenditures in excess of $10,000. HB 690 and SB 691 would prohibit government contractors from making independent expenditures. HB 986 and SB 570 would require board of director and stockholder approval for corporate independent expenditures, and would prohibit the distribution of material that is not true. HB 1029 and SB 543 would establish disclosure requirements for corporate independent expenditures. SB 601 would prohibit corporate contributions to candidates and corporate-funded independent expenditures.
- Michigan — The secretary of state has posted a detailed description of how Citizens United affects the state, including an FAQ section.
- Minnesota — SF 2353, introduced on February 4, 2010, would repeal the ban on independent expenditures by corporations.
- Montana — The attorney general has said the state’s ban on corporate expenditures will stay in place until it is challenged.
- North Carolina — The executive director of the State Board of elections has said that the law appears to be unenforceable, but they are still working to understand the full meaning of the decision.
- Oklahoma — The Ethics Commission is working on amendments to change and remove the relevant portions of state rules.
- South Dakota — SB 165, introduced on February 1, 2010, would prohibit corporations from making political expenditures without shareholder approval.
- Wisconsin — The Senate passed SB 43 just two days before the release of the Citizens United decision. This bill would ban corporate and union funding of electioneering bans and require greater disclosure. The bill’s sponsors say they are hoping to salvage the disclosure portions of the bill. Also, the Government Accountability Board is considering rules that would require greater disclosure. SB 540, introduced February 17, 2010, repeals Wisconsin’s ban on corporate independent expenditures. It also requires a corporation to file documentation of a vote of shareholders taken within the past two years approving campaign expenditures before making such an expenditure.
- Wyoming — HB 68, which would repeal the ban on independent expenditures by corporations, is pending in the Legislature.