Bill Details - SB231 (2019)

SB 231-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2019 SESSION

19-1069

05/04

 

SENATE BILL 231-FN

 

AN ACT promoting truth in political advertising.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Giuda, Dist 2; Sen. Birdsell, Dist 19; Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Sen. Dietsch, Dist 9; Sen. Fuller Clark, Dist 21; Rep. Lang, Belk. 4; Rep. Pearl, Merr. 26; Rep. Hinch, Hills. 21

 

COMMITTEE: Election Law and Municipal Affairs

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes a procedure for the legislative ethics committee to investigate complaints of false political advertising in campaigns for election to the general court.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

19-1069

05/04

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen

 

AN ACT promoting truth in political advertising.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  Statement of Purpose.  New Hampshire citizens deserve integrity not only in the election process, but in the presentation, publication, and promulgation of information about candidates seeking public office.  The deliberate publication of false information by political interests to influence election outcomes misleads the public and undermines the integrity of our elections.  This act establishes consequences for political advertising which materially misstates and/or misrepresents facts about a candidate's position and voting record on an issue.  Deliberately misstating facts before a judge to influence a verdict has serious consequences.  Deliberately misleading the public to gain control of government should have consequences as well.  This act in no way restricts the ability of a political person or organization, including an independent expenditure group, to exercise their right of free speech.  However, it does establish a consequence for making false statements.

2  New Section; Political Advertising.  Amend RSA 664 by inserting after section 17-a the following new section:

664:17-b  Truth in Political Advertising.

I.  In this section:

(a)  "False political advertising" means any advertisement in print, radio, television, Internet, or social media that presents information about a candidate's voting record or position on an issue that is materially false.

(b)  "Materially false" means mispresenting in any way a candidate's position on an issue as different from the position reflected in the candidate's recorded final vote on any legislation voted on in a senate or house session.

(c)  "Recorded final vote" means, for the house of representatives, a recorded final vote is the final house roll call vote on a bill, and, for the senate, a recorded final vote is a final roll call vote on the legislation being considered, or any final voice vote on a bill that can be verified using the senate's recorded audio and/or video systems.

(d)  "Committee" means the legislative ethics committee established in RSA 14-B.

(e)  "Evidence" includes a political flyer, brochure, letter, or other printed document; a photograph of such flyer, brochure, letter, or other printed document; an audio, video, or television recording; or a screenshot, email, text message, tweet, or other electronic record clearly depicting alleged false political advertising.

II.  This section shall apply to state elections to the general court.  Within 10 days of publication of alleged false political advertising, a candidate may file a written complaint with the committee, together with a filing fee of $100.  The candidate shall provide the evidence of alleged false political advertising to the committee's executive administrator at the state house by registered mail or in person.  All evidence shall be kept by the executive administrator in a secure location for consideration and use by the committee.

III.  Within 20 days of receipt of evidence from a candidate, the committee shall meet and issue a written finding of "materially false" or "not materially false."  If a ruling of "materially false" is issued by the committee, the candidate or political entity whose name is provided on the advertising shall be assessed a fine equal to the cost of production and publication of the false advertisement.  For Internet and social media offenses, a fine of $2,500 per offense shall be assessed.

IV.  All fines shall be paid by certified bank check to the state treasurer, within 10 business days of a finding of "materially false" by the committee.  A candidate or other entity which fails to pay fines assessed under this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

V.  Fines shall be divided equally and distributed on the last day of each fiscal year to the attorney general, secretary of state, and legislative ethics committee.

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBAO

19-1069

1/18/19

 

SB 231-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT promoting truth in political advertising.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [ X ] County               [ X ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

   Expenditures

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [    ] Other

 

COUNTY:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill creates a new prohibition against false political advertising applicable only to state elections to the General Court.  A candidate may file a written complaint with the Legislative Ethics Committee along with evidence and a filing fee of $100 within 10 days of publication of the alleged false political advertising. Within 20 days of receipt of evidence from a candidate, the committee shall meet and issue a written finding of "materially false" or "not materially false".  If a finding of "materially false" is issued by the committee,  the candidate or political entity whose name is provided on the advertising shall be assessed a fine equal to the cost of production and publication of the false advertisement.  For Internet and social media offenses, a fine of $2,500 per offense shall be assessed.  Fines are required to be paid by certified bank check to the state treasurer within 10 days of the "materially false" finding by the committee.  A candidate or other entity which fails to pay such fines shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.  Fine revenue shall be divided equally and distributed on the last day of each fiscal year to the Attorney General, Secretary of State and Legislative Ethics Committee.

 

The Legislative Branch indicates several variables make the fiscal impact of this bill indeterminable.  It is unknown how many complaints may be filed; how many of those duly filed complaints may be deemed "materially false"; the amount of associated fines and whether such fines are based on the cost of advertisement production and publication, or the $2,500 flat fine for Internet or social media advertisements.  The bill is silent as to where the filing fees are to be deposited.

 

This bill contains penalties that may have an impact on the New Hampshire judicial and correctional systems.  There is no method to determine how many charges would be brought as a result of the changes contained in this bill to determine the fiscal impact on expenditures.  However, the entities impacted have provided the potential costs associated with these penalties below.

 

Judicial Branch

FY 2020

FY 2021

Class B Misdemeanor

$53

$54

Class A Misdemeanor

$76

$77

Simple Criminal Case

$296

$301

Routine Criminal Felony Case

$481

$486

Appeals

Varies

Varies

 

 

 

It should be noted that average case cost estimates for FY 2020 and FY 2021 are based on data that is more than ten years old and does not reflect changes to the courts over that same period of time or the impact these changes may have on processing the various case types.  An unspecified misdemeanor can be either class A or class B, with the presumption being a class B misdemeanor.

Judicial Council

 

 

Public Defender Program

Has contract with State to provide services.

Has contract with State to provide services.

Contract Attorney – Felony

$825/Case

$825/Case

Contract Attorney – Misdemeanor

$300/Case

$300/Case

Assigned Counsel – Felony

$60/Hour up to $4,100

$60/Hour up to $4,100

Assigned Counsel – Misdemeanor

$60/Hour up to $1,400

$60/Hour up to $1,400

It should be noted that a person needs to be found indigent and have the potential of being incarcerated to be eligible for indigent defense services. The majority of indigent cases (approximately 85%) are handled by the public defender program, with the remaining cases going to contract attorneys (14%) or assigned counsel (1%).

Department of Corrections

 

 

FY 2018 Average Cost of Incarcerating an Individual

$40,615

$40,615

FY 2018 Annual Marginal Cost of a General Population Inmate

$4,620

$4,620

FY 2018 Average Cost of Supervising an Individual on Parole/Probation

$571

$571

NH Association of Counties

 

 

County Prosecution Costs

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Estimated Average Daily Cost of Incarcerating an Individual

$105 to $120

$105 to $120

 

Many offenses are prosecuted by local and county prosecutors.  When the Department of Justice has investigative and prosecutorial responsibility or is involved in an appeal, the Department would likely absorb the cost within its existing budget.  If the Department needs to prosecute significantly more cases or handle more appeals, then costs may increase by an indeterminable amount.  

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Legislative Branch, Judicial Branch, Departments of Corrections and Justice, Judicial Council, and New Hampshire Association of Counties

 

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 3, 2019 Introduced 01/03/2019 and Referred to Election Law and Municipal Affairs; SC 8
Feb. 6, 2019 Hearing: 02/06/2019, Room 102, LOB, 10:45 am; SC 9
March 14, 2019 Committee Report: Rereferred to Committee, 03/14/2019; SC 13
March 14, 2019 Rereferred to Committee, MA, VV; 03/14/2019; SJ 8

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Feb. 6, 2019 Senate Hearing

Bill Text Revisions

SB231 Revision: 5222 Date: Jan. 23, 2019, 4:50 p.m.