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|Federal Legislation||April 8, 2002|
H.R. 2356óCampaign Finance Reform Bill
None. Became Public Law No: 107-155 on March 27, 2002.
Official purpose. To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to provide bipartisan campaign reform. (Also referred to as the Shays-Meehan bill.)
Introduced June 28, 2001 by Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT).
6/28/2001: Referred to the Committee on House Administration, Committees on Energy and Commerce, and the Judiciary Committee for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
7/9/2001: Referred to the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.
7/10/2001 Reported adversely by the Committee on House Administration.
7/10/2001 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 73.
7/12/2001: Rule H. Res. 188 failed passage of House.
2/12/2002: Rule H. Res. 344 passed House.
2/13/2002: Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) is designated to act as Chairman of the Committee.
2/14/2002: The Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union reports H.R. 2356.
2/14/2002: Mr. Meehan moved to recommit with instructions to House Administration.
2/14/2002: DEBATE - The House proceeded with 10 minutes of debate on the Meehan motion to recommit with instructions.* (*The instructions contained in the motion require the Committee on House Administration to report the bill back to the House forthwith with an amendment to clarify language regarding expenditures of funds prior to January 1, 2003.)
2/14/2002: On passage Passed by recorded vote: 240 - 189 (Roll no. 34).
2/14/2002: Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
2/26/2002: Received in the Senate. Read the first time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar. 2/27/2002: Read the second time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar. Calendar No. 318
3/19/2002: Considered by Senate.
3/20/2002: Passed Senate without amendment by Yea-Nay Vote. 60 - 40.
3/20/2002: Message on Senate action sent to the House.
3/20/2002: Cleared for White House.
3/26/2002: Presented to President.
3/27/2002: Signed by President.
3/27/2002: Became Public Law No: 107-155.
Bill Summary and Status
Under current law, advocacy groups such as home school organizations are allowed to make independent expenditures in an election campaign. For example, a home school group may issue a press release highlighting a home school issue. However, to be independent, these expenditures must not be coordinated with the candidate. In addition, they may not call for the election or defeat of a candidate. Under Shays-Meehan, the term "coordination" would be broadened to include activity pursuant to a "general understanding," regardless of whether there is any express advocacy. Under this broader standard, candidates and advocacy groups would have to use extreme caution in conversing about issues of mutual concern. Such a broad standard on coordination will have a chilling effect on free speech, and facilitate nuisance complaints filed merely for publicity.
Many advocacy organizations that run advertising on issues are concerned with new disclosure requirements. Shays-Meehan would now mandate disclosure of "electioneering communications" exceeding a total of $10,000 per year. If an advocacy organization runs such ads within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary, that organization would have to disclose its high donors. Such disclosure would discourage many from participating in the political process. For example, a pro-life employee might be unwilling to contribute if his pro-choice boss were to be able to know that the employee was a contributor to pro-life causes. While HSLDA does not presently engage in this type of issue advocacy, such an infringement on free speech should not go without comment.
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