by Kristin Szafranski
In today’s election committee meeting, Rep. Lewis told the committee that House Bill 710, Board of Ethics, Lobbying, and Campaign Finance, would not be taken up next week during redistricting and instead will be discussed in September.
While most of the meeting was spent on presentations from the State Board of Elections, the State Ethics Commission, and the Secretary of State’s office, a few questions by committee members were allowed.
House Bill 710, which was previously 21 pages and now a staggering 134 pages, is poised to combine the functions of the State Ethics Commission, the lobbying section of the Secretary of State, and the campaign finance functions of the State Board of Elections into a new state agency.
The most important fact brought to the committee’s attention was by Rep. Stam when he pointed out that the matching funds provisions are still present in this bill. Last month, the Supreme Court declared Arizona’s matching funds system, a system extremely similar to North Carolina’s, to be unconstitutional. The John Locke Foundation’s Daren Baskt weighed in on the issue calling for North Carolina’s General Assembly to “repeal its unconstitutional taxpayer-financed campaign system in the wake of a new ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Since Rep. Stam brought this to the committee’s attention, it is likely that an amendment will be passed to address the issue, however with a bill of this magnitude, there are likely to be other necessary changes as well.