The3rd meeting of the Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs of the Interim Joint Committee on State Government was held on Tuesday, November 15, 2005, at 1:00 PM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Adrian K Arnold, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Damon Thayer, Co-Chair; Representative Adrian K Arnold, Co-Chair; Senators Julian M Carroll, and Carroll Gibson; Representatives Joe Barrows, James E Bruce, Mike Cherry, Joseph M Fischer, J R Gray, Mike Harmon, Melvin B Henley, Gross C Lindsay, Mary Lou Marzian, Jon David Reinhardt, and Kathy W Stein.
Guests: Trey Grayson, Secretary of State; Sarah Ball Johnson, and Katie Dunnigan, State Board of Elections; John Rogers, and David Samford, Advisory Task Force for Development of the Registry's Legislative Package; Jennifer Hans, and Rob Jones, Attorney General's Office.
LRC Staff: Judy Fritz, Erica Warren, Terisa Roland
Representative Arnold asked for approval of the September 27, 2005 minutes, and they were approved. Representative Arnold said there were many issues to be reviewed.
On the Agenda were Secretary of State Trey Grayson and Sarah Ball Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Elections with a HAVA (Help America Vote Act) update.
Secretary Grayson began with an overview of the plan in place meets the January 2006 requirements. The State Board of Elections (SBE) drafted a standard memorandum of agreement that was executed by all 120 county fiscal courts in June 2005 for purchase of new voting machines that meet HAVA standards. All machines in place must have a paper based audit trail capability. All polling places must have machines accessible by voters with disabilities. He explained how HAVA helps to improve elections in general. Some of the HAVA funds will be used to reimburse some of the voting equipment. He feels that prior to the January 1, 2006, deadline, all the counties will have executed contracts to purchase voting machines and the vast majority, in excess of 90%, will have received the new machines.
SBE is also working on a standard for what constitutes a "vote." They worked with the county clerk, to accomplish drafting an emergency regulation to be in place by January 1. The governor has signed it and it is now governing law. Secretary Grayson explained what constitutes a "vote" and also the process of voting on the new machines. He said whenever a change in voting machines is made there is a transition for the voters to feel comfortable with the new machines. It may take a little longer to vote, if they don't do straight ticket voting.
Representative Lindsay asked if the machines would be ready for Henderson County. Secretary Grayson said yes they have been ordered and delivered to Henderson County.
Secretary Grayson also explained that anyone who is in line to vote at 6:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote. He answered more general questions regarding the voting process and machines for the panel.
Next on the agenda was the discussion of the 31 KAR 4:150 by Katie Dunnigan, General Counsel, and Sarah Ball Johnson, Executive Director, of the State Board of Elections.
Ms. Dunnigan said this regulation was just for discussion and that it provides for the tracking of voters that indicate on the voting forms that they are members of the political group other than Democrat or Republican.
Representative Stein asked if they would repeat the other parties that were included. They were Constitution Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, Reform Party, Socialist Worker Party, and Independent Status.
Discussion of the Final Report of the Advisory Task Force For Development of the Registry's Legislative Package was presented by John Rogers and David Samford, co-chairs of the Task Force. Mr. Rogers explained that The Advisory Task Force for the Development of the Registry's Legislative Package was created a year ago to seek a broad array of ideas on changes which were advisable to Kentucky's campaign finance laws. The changes to Kentucky election finance laws will be the first major overall in the last ten years. They were looking for a broad range of input asking questions such as: What laws are working, which ones aren't and why, which laws demand too much of the candidates and their organizations and which laws too little, what laws are too restrictive in current times, what laws are needed in response to increased Internet usage, what laws might be needed in response to new advertising strategies and methods, what laws are needed in response too technological advancements, what laws are to technical for application, what laws conflict with judicial decisions, and are there other housekeeping changes that would benefit the agency's operation? The task force looked at how effective these laws are in context of the current times. Mr. Rogers said they met for eight months, volunteers took time out of their busy schedules to serve - to improve Kentucky's finance election laws.
Mr. Samford explained the changes (which are included in the book handed out). There were a total of 88 recommendations. The goals of the task force included increased participation in the political process, to promote transparency to make sure the public is better informed of the process, to make sure the rules are fair for everyone, that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, and to instill public confidence. They want to make sure the laws are as clear as they can be. There are very stiff penalties for violating election finance laws. The goal is to make sure that people clearly understand what their obligations are, and to eliminate some of the inconsistencies between the federal and state system. Major changes started with page 17 of their recommendations included in their report.
Senator Thayer said many of the recommendations were long overdue and agrees that almost every recommendation needs to be considered. He has requested a bill draft addressing many of the recommendations that will make the campaign finance system stronger and more accountable to the voters.
After much discussion Chairman Arnold introduced Jennifer Hans and Rob Jones, both with the Attorney General's Office. Mr. Jones was a member of the task force and submitted a minority report to the task force's recommendations. (This report can be found in Volume 3 of the large book, Tab 3). Mr. Jones brought forth major points that the Attorney General's Office both agreed and dissented with the report. He said the task force did an excellent job. There are differences between the report that was put together by the task force and that which was ultimately adopted by the registry, specifically the $2,000 reporting threshold, which was adopted by the task force versus the $5,000 threshold that was opted by the registry. One of the more important aspects of the report issued by the task force was the decision to close the ballot issue advocacy loophole, which allows a single entity to avoid reporting as a political issues committee by changing the definition from "three or more persons" to "one or more persons." After further discussion, Ms. Hans mentioned in addition to their minority report, there are additional minority reports that were included in Volume 3 by other members.
Chairman Arnold encouraged all members to read the minority report in Volume 3.
Ms. Hans answered questions regarding electioneering communication.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 3:00.
A tape of this meeting and all meeting materials can be found in the Legislative Research Commission Library.