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, October 27, 2009, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Damon Thayer, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Damon Thayer, Co-Chair; Representative Darryl T. Owens, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Julian M. Carroll, Alice Forgy Kerr, John Schickel, Elizabeth Tori, and Johnny Ray Turner; Representatives Kevin D. Bratcher, Larry Clark, Joseph M. Fischer, Melvin B. Henley, Mary Lou Marzian, and Ron Weston.
Guests: Trey Grayson, Secretary of State; Sarah M. Jackson, Rhonda K. Farmer, and Emily Dennis, Registry of Election Finance; Representative Fred Nesler; Debbie Batliner, Kentucky Municipal Clerk’s Association.
LRC Staff: Greg Woosley, Judy Fritz, Bill VanArsdall, Alisha Miller, Karen Powell, and Terisa Roland.
Chairman Thayer asked for approval of the September 22, 2009 minutes, and the minutes were approved.
First on the agenda was a presentation by the Secretary of State, Trey Grayson, on the Secretary of State and the State Board of Elections’ 2010 Legislative Agenda. Secretary Grayson stated that there were three legislative items relating to elections that did not pass both chambers in the 2009 regular session. The first of these items was the Secretary of State’s clean-up bill that would codify an opinion from a circuit court case, that would clarify the procedures applicable to special elections, and that would establish clear guidelines for independent candidates. Sec. Grayson also stated that some of the current language in the statute relating to certification deadlines was confusing, and that the bill would also address this confusion.
The second legislative item discussed by Secretary Grayson was the State Board of Election’s clean-up bill. Secretary Grayson stated that the primary change in the bill concerned members of county boards of elections and, specifically, the procedures to temporarily replace a member on a county board if they are unable to serve. This bill also would address the procedures for handling absentee ballots, training for election officers, and the security of ballot boxes. Several members of the Task Force posed questions regarding the provisions governing the replacement of board members, with some concerned that the county boards could have trouble getting a quorum if the proposed replacement was subject to approval.
The third legislative item discussed by Secretary Grayson concerned the maintenance of eligible voter rolls by county clerks, and the necessity to minimize mistakes caused when city boundaries are changed and cross precinct lines. For this item, Debbie Batliner, from the Kentucky Municipal Clerk’s Association, joined Secretary Grayson, and Ms. Batliner noted that this is particularly problematic in city and school board elections. The proposed change would require maps of any changes in city boundaries to be submitted to the county clerk to allow the clerk to correctly allocate voters. Ms. Batliner noted that this effort was unopposed by the Secretary of State’s office, the State Board of Elections, the Kentucky School Boards Association, the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Kentucky League of Cities, and the Kentucky Municipal Clerk’s Association. Secretary Grayson noted that if legislation is considered and passed in the 2010 regular session it might need an emergency clause and a specified effective date, and that, if passed, the Secretary of State’s office would prefer for the change to be in effect for the general election cycle.
Finally, Secretary Grayson gave a demonstration on the Fast Track web filing and notification service available through the Secretary of State’s website. Several members of the Task Force posed questions about the service, specifically about fees, and Secretary Grayson noted that the service was free. A copy of the meeting tape can be found in the LRC library for a complete review of the first agenda item.
The second and final item on the agenda was a presentation by the Registry of Election Finance on past legislative attempts to amend campaign finance regulations and on important issues to consider for the 2010 regular session. Appearing and testifying from the Registry were Sarah Jackson, Executive Director, Rhonda Farmer, Assistant Executive Director, and Emily Dennis, General Counsel. The Registry began the testimony by noting that several attempts to change campaign finance regulations have been made in the last few regular sessions, but that most of the major needed changes had not passed both chambers. Ms. Dennis noted three bills specifically, SB 62 in the 2009 session, SB 08 in the 2008 session, and SB 159 in the 2007 session, but emphasized that no major changes had been made to campaign finance regulation in more than ten (10) years. Ms. Dennis also stated that many of the proposals were intended to clarify, rather than substantially change, the regulations, and that the majority of the proposals would make the Registry more efficient and assist candidates by amending several disclosure requirements. Several members of the task force posed questions and voiced their opinions and concerns. A copy of the handout material from this presentation and of the meeting tape can be found in the LRC library for a complete review of the second agenda item.
Chairman Thayer said that the co-chairs intended to have a November meeting, but that a request might be made to the LRC to move the meeting from November 24th to November 17th because of the Thanksgiving holiday. It was noted that the November meeting would be the last interim meeting.
Chairman Thayer concluded all business and the meeting was adjourned at 2:30.