81st Legislative Session

HB 1720 and SB 2085 – Political Advertising

Amends Election Code § 255.003

Current law provides that an officer or employee of a political subdivision may not knowingly spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising.  HB 1720 specifies that an expenditure is prohibited for a communication describing a measure, if the communication contains information the officer or employee knows is false and is sufficiently substantial and important as to be reasonably likely to influence a voter.  The bills provide that it is an affirmative defense to prosecution to reasonably rely on a court order or an interpretation of section 255.003 in a written opinion by a court, the Attorney General, or the Commission.  The bills provide that the Commission shall prepare an advance written advisory opinion upon written request of the governing body of a political subdivision that has ordered an election on a measure.  The bills state that the affirmative defense and advisory opinion provisions do not apply to a port authority or navigation district.  Effective 09/01/09

HB 2065 – Moratorium on Political Contributions

Amends Election Code §§ 253.034(b), 253.0341(b)

HB 2065 applies to legislative caucuses, statewide officeholders, members of the legislature, and specific-purpose committees supporting, opposing, or assisting a statewide officeholder or member of the legislature.  The bill clarifies the provision regarding contributions received by U.S. mail during the moratorium period and expands the provision to include contributions received by common or contract carrier during the moratorium period.  Effective 09/01/09

HB 2525 – Corporations and Labor Organizations

Amends Election Code § 253.100

HB 2525 applies to corporations and labor organizations that make political expenditures to finance the establishment or administration of a general-purpose committee.  The bill provides specific types of expenditures that are considered permissible corporate expenditures for the maintenance and operation of a general-purpose committee.  The bill also provides specific types of expenditures that are impermissible corporate expenditures under this section, unless a corporation or labor organization is making the expenditure to communicate with its stockholders or members or with the families of its stockholders or members as provided by Election Code §253.098 (relating to Communication with Stockholders or Members).  Effective 06/19/09

HB 3922 – Notice of Filing Deadline

Amends Election Code § 251.033

HB 3922 allows the Commission to send notices regarding upcoming filing deadlines by e-mail.  Effective 06/19/09

HB 4060 – Judicial Political Contributions

Amends Election Code § 253.153(a)(2), (b)
Repeals Election Code § 253.153(c)

HB 4060 applies to judicial candidates, judicial officeholders, and specific-purpose committees supporting, opposing, or assisting judicial candidates or officeholders.  The bill changes the end date for the period during which a political contribution may not be accepted to the 120th day after the date of the election in which the candidate or officeholder last appeared on the ballot, regardless of whether the candidate or officeholder had an opponent in that election.  The bill also provides that this moratorium on contributions does not apply to a contribution that is made and accepted with the intent that it be used to repay a debt incurred directly by the making of a campaign expenditure during the period beginning on the date the application for a place on the ballot or for nomination by convention was required to be filed for the election in which the candidate last appeared on the ballot and ending on the date of that election.  Effective 09/01/09

SB 1142 – Filing Authority for Single-County District Judges

Amends Election Code §§ 254.066, 254.097, 254.130

SB 1142 applies to single-county district judges, candidates for single-county district judge, and specific-purpose committees for supporting, opposing, or assisting such candidates or officeholders.  The bill removes the requirement for these filers to file campaign finance reports with the county clerk.  The bill provides that these candidates, officeholders and associated specific-purpose committees are only required to file reports with the Commission (the authority with whom the candidate's campaign treasurer appointment is required to be filed.)  Consequently, all single-county district judges must file semiannual campaign finance reports regardless of whether they have a campaign treasurer appointment on file.  (The exemption declaration form may not be filed in lieu of a report.)  Effective 06/19/09

SB 1152 – Political Contributions

Amends Election Code § 253.039

SB 1152 expands the prohibition on a person knowingly accepting a political contribution or making or authorizing a political contribution while in the Capitol to also include in a courthouse.  The bill defines "courthouse" for purposes of this section.  The bill does not prohibit contributions made in a courthouse through the U.S. postal service or a common or contract carrier.  Effective 09/01/09

SB 1795 – Political Committees

Amends Election Code §§ 254.124(e), 254.154(e)

SB 1795 applies to all general-purpose committees, including county executive committees, and specific-purpose committees.  The bill changes the filing requirement for a political committee that is involved in a runoff election.  Current law requires a committee to file a runoff report only if the committee was involved in both the initial election and the ensuing runoff election.  The bill provides that a political committee involved in a runoff election must file an 8-day before runoff pre-election report, regardless of whether the committee was involved in the initial election.  Effective 09/01/09


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