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HB 0102 - Georgia Public Financing for State-wide Judicial Office Campaign Act; enact

Tracking Level: Monitor
Sponsor: Lindsey,Edward 54th
Last Action: 1/24/2007 - House Second Readers
House Committee: GAff
Assigned To:
02. Supreme CourtNext Bill
03. Court of AppealsNext Bill
05. Superior CourtsNext Bill
06. State CourtsNext Bill
07. Juvenile CourtsNext Bill
08. Probate CourtsNext Bill
09. Magistrate CourtsNext Bill
ElectionsNext Bill

Staff Analysis of the Legislation

Amend Title 21. Georgia Public Financing for State-wide Judicial Office Campaign Fund Act.  Creates a taxpayer funded method of financing certain judicial elections for certain candidates who demonstrate public support and accept strict fund-raising and spending limitations.  This is applicable to candidates for Justice of the Supreme Court and Judge of the Court of Appeals in elections to be held in 2008 and thereafter.  The Act authorizes the Secretary of State to investigate and when necessary report violations of the provisions to the Attorney General for further investigation and prosecution.  A violator of the Act may be required to pay a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 for each violation.  All monies recovered pursuant to this Act shall be deposited in the Georgia Public Financing for State-wide Judicial Office Campaign Fund.

The Act Establishes the fund to finance election campaigns of certified candidates for office and to pay administrative and enforcement costs of the board related to the Act.  The fund is a special, dedicated, nonlapsing, nonreverting fund.  To support the public financing for appellate judicial campaigns, the board may promote and solicit voluntary contributions through the income tax return contribution mechanism up to $10.00 each return.  The Department of Revenue shall determine annually the total amount contributed, minus administrative costs (shall not exceed $50,000 per year), and transmit the balance to the board for deposit in the fund.  The board shall prepare by February 1 of each year an accounting of the funds received and expended from the fund and a review and evaluation of all expended monies of the fund.  The recipient of a contribution that violates this subsection shall have 3 days in which to return the contribution to the contributor or file a detailed statement with the State Election Board explaining why the contribution does not violate the subsection.  The Act shall become effective July 1, 2007.

Establishment of the fund/sources of funding:  sources of funding include designations made to the fund by individual taxpayers, fund revenues distributed for a contested election that remain unspent at the time the recipient is no longer a certified candidate in the election, fund revenues distributed for a contested election that remain unspent at the time the recipient is elected, money ordered returned to the fund by the board or State Ethics Commission, and voluntary donations. All expenses of administering the Act shall be paid from the fund and not from the general fund.  Any interest shall be credited to the fund and the board shall administer the fund. 

Fund amount determination: by October 2008, and every two years thereafter, the board, in conjunction with the advisory council, shall prepare and provide the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker a report documenting, evaluating, and making recommendations relating to the administration, implementation, and enforcement of this Act.  In the report the board shall set out the funds received to date and expected needs for the next election.

 Declaration of intent to participate: any candidate choosing to receive funds from the fund shall file with the board a declaration of intent to participate.  The declaration shall be filed after collecting qualifying contributions and within 90 days from the last date of the qualifying period.

 Demonstration of support of candidacy:participants who seek certification to received funds from the fund shall raise qualifying contributions not less than $50,000 and not more than $100,000 within 90 days of the last date of the qualifying period.  No payment/gift/anything of value shall be given in exchange for a contribution.

 Certification of candidates: upon receipt of the declaration the board shall determine whether the candidate has properly signed and filed the declaration, submitted a report itemizing the appropriate number of contributions, is qualified to receive votes on the ballot as a candidate for the office, and otherwise meets the requirements for participation in the fund.  The board shall certify participants within 10 days.

 Restrictions on contributions and expenditures for participating and certified candidates:  beginning when a candidate who is not holding office declares intent to accept campaign contributions for office or at the start of each election cycle for candidates holding office and continuing through the date of the election or run off, the candidate shall accept only qualifying contributions up to $100,000.  Once the candidate files a declaration the candidate may expend up to the $100,000 raised.  If the candidate exceeds $100,000 the candidate will be ineligible to file a declaration of intent or receive funds.  A candidate shall limit the use of all revenues permitted by this Act to expenditures for campaign related purpose only.  Any contribution received by a participating candidate that falls outside that which is permitted shall be returned to the donor as soon as practicable.  A candidate shall return to the fund any amount distributed for an election that is unspent and uncommitted at the date of the election or run-off.

 Revocation: a candidate may revoke, in writing, a decision to participate in the fund at any time before the deadline set by the board.

 Timing of fund distribution: board shall distribute funds to candidates in contested elections within 30 days after the candidate is initially certified and within 3 business days after any supplemental certification for additional fund distribution.

 Amount of fund distribution: five times the amount of qualifying contributions raised by the certified candidate, rounded to the nearest $100 and determined by the board.  If certified candidate is running against a candidate who has chosen not to receive money from the fund, and if such candidate‚Äôs expenditures exceed $500,000, the certified candidate may apply for a supplemental allocation from the fund.

Method of fund distribution: the board shall develop a rapid, reliable method of conveying funds to candidates.

Enforcement by the board:  The board, with advice from the advisory council, shall administer the provisions of the Act

Advisory council:  will advise the board on rules, procedures, and opinions the board adopts for the enforcement and administration of the Act and on the funding needs and operation of the fund.  Council will be made up of 5 members, 2 named by the Governor from a list of individuals nominated by the state executive committee of the political party that received the greatest number of votes the last presidential election and 2 of the political party which received the second greatest number of votes in the last president election, and 1 member that the board shall name by unanimous vote.  Initial members shall be nominated by August 1, 2007.

Appeals:  initial decision shall be made by the chairperson of the board; procedure for challenging is as follows: an individual or entity aggrieved by a decision may appeal to the full board within 3 business days of the decision, within 5 business days after an appeal the board shall hold a hearing.  The appellant has the burden of providing evidence to demonstrate that the decision was improper.  The board shall rule on the appeal within 3 business days after the completion of the hearing.

Board to adopt rules and issue opinions:  The board shall adopt rules and issue onions to ensure effective administration of the Act.

Report to the public:  the advisory council shall issue a report by December 1, 2008 and every two years thereafter that evaluates and makes recommendations about implementation of this Act and the feasibility of expanding its provisions.

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