New Hampshire becomes 20th state wanting a campaign finance curb in the Constitution
Now there are 20 states on record saying they would ratify an amendment to the Constitution allowing limits on campaign spending, the most ambitious and emphatic response possible to the oceans of money sloshing through the political system.
The Democratic Senate in New Hampshire voted 14-10 on Thursday, nearly along party lines, to call on Congress to propose a constitutional amendment that would effectively negate the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC decision, by declaring that political giving is not a form of speech covered by the First Amendment.
The vote in Concord means the nascent 28th Amendment now has the support of comfortably more than half the states needed for ratification. It's also important symbolically because almost all the other states are deeply Democratic blue while New Hampshire is very competitive between the parties.
"The unflagging work of so many citizens has paid off," said Jeff Clements, the president of American Promise, a leading advocacy group for the constitutional amendment approach to campaign finance regulation. "New Hampshire's stand adds big momentum to the drive for a 28th Amendment to secure free speech and representation for all Americans, not just the few."
But the process of producing the language on Capitol Hill has barely gotten off the ground, with only a relative handful of lawmakers intensely promoting the idea and two-third majorities in the House and Senate required – a clear impossibility at a time of closely divided government when essentially every Republican lawmaker is standing behind the landmark 2010 decision.
"I hear from Republican candidates concerned about anonymous ads from groups funded by Soros, Bloomberg, Steyer and others. This is the first step in protecting those candidates – all candidates – from nasty anonymous ads," said John Pudner of Take Back Our Republic, a conservative group in favor of tighter campaign finance regulation. "A constitutional amendment is in everyone's best interests. It's good for voters, it's good for candidates, and it's good for elected officials who want to be able to focus on their constituents rather than Big Money donors."
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday three democracy reform bills focused on local redistricting, voting access and campaign contributions.
The first piece of legislation prohibits partisan gerrymandering at the local level by establishing criteria for cities and counties to use when adjusting district boundaries. While California is the largest state to use an independent redistricting commission to draw its congressional and state district maps, local districts did not have the same regulations.
More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.
In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.
Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.