Interim Joint Committee on State Government

 

Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 2nd Meeting

of the 2010 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> September 28, 2010

 

Call to Order and Roll Call

The<MeetNo2> 2nd meeting of the Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs of the Interim Joint Committee on State Government was held on<Day> Tuesday,<MeetMDY2> September 28, 2010, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Darryl T. Owens, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senator Damon Thayer, Co-Chair; Representative Darryl T. Owens, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Jimmy Higdon, Mike Reynolds, John Schickel, Elizabeth Tori, Johnny Ray Turner, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives Kevin D. Bratcher, Larry Clark, James R. Comer Jr., Joseph M. Fischer, Mike Harmon, Melvin B. Henley, and Mary Lou Marzian.

 

Guests: Emily Dennis, General Counsel of Kentucky Registry of Election Finance; Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo; and Patrick Rosenstein of the National Popular Vote.

 

LRC Staff:  Judy Fritz, Karen Powell, Kevin Devlin, Bill VanArsdall, and Terisa Roland

 

Approval of Minutes

            The minutes of the August 24, 2010 meeting were approved without objection, upon motion by Representative Owens.

 

Citizens United v. FEC:  A Review of the United States Supreme Court Case and Kentucky Campaign Finance Implications

Emily Dennis, General Counsel of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance,  gave an overview of the Citizens United case and its implications on Kentucky’s campaign finance laws. Ms. Dennis stated that the court held that no sufficient governmental interest justified limits on the political speech of non-profit or for-profit corporations, and concluded that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to or create the appearance of quid pro quo corruption. This means that corporations and unions may make independent expenditures in political campaigns in the same way as individuals. Ms. Dennis said the practical effect of the Citizens United decision on Kentucky law is that corporations may now indirectly influence the nomination and election of candidates regulated by the registry by making independent expenditures. However, direct campaign contributions from corporations are still prohibited by Section 150 of the Constitution of Kentucky. The court’s decision was limited to the ability of corporations to make independent expenditures. An “independent expenditure” differs from a “contribution” in that an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate. In summary the corporate contributions to candidates in Kentucky are still prohibited.

Several members of the Task Force posed questions and voiced their opinions and concerns.

 

National Popular Vote – Background and Legislative Update

The second item on the agenda was a presentation on the National Popular Vote initiative by Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo and Patrick Rosenstiel. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. The bill has passed 31 legislative chambers in 21 jurisdictions. In the recent 52-7 New York State Senate vote, Republicans supported the bill by a 22-5 margin and Democrats supported it by a 30-2 margin. The bill has been enacted by states possessing 73 electoral votes – 27% of the 270 necessary to activate the law. Mr. Rosenstiel said the shortcomings of the current system stem from the winner-take-all rule (awarding all of the state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state). The winner-take-all rule has permitted a candidate to win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide in 4 of our 56 elections. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected Kerry despite Bush’s 3.5 million lead nationwide. He said another shortcoming of the winner-take-all rule is that presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to the concerns of voters in states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. The winner-take-all rule ignores the voters that voted against the candidate who came out on top. The winner-take-all is not in the Constitution. The current method of electing the President was established by state laws, and these state laws may be changed at any time.

Under the National Popular Vote bill, all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the popular votes in all 50 states. The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes – enough electoral votes to elect a President. The bill preserves the Electoral College, while assuring that every vote is equal and that every vote will matter in every state in every presidential election.

Several members of the Task Force posed questions and voiced their opinions and concerns.

 

Business concluded, and the meeting was adjourned at 2:30 p.m.