2020 State Ballot Measure Round-Up

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The 2020 general election saw voters in three states, Oregon, Missouri, and Alaska, adopt ballot measures related to campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics. These three state ballot measures are summarized below. Separately, just before the 2020 election, the City Council in Aurora, Colorado, adopted a campaign finance ordinance, which will place limits on contributions to city candidates for the first time. The new Aurora ordinance goes into effect January 1, 2021.

Oregon

On Nov. 3, Oregon voters passed state Measure 107, paving the way for political contribution limits in the state. As we previously reported, Measure 107 amends the Oregon constitution to expressly permit the state legislature, local legislative bodies, or the people through the initiative process to enact contribution limits and related campaign finance disclosure requirements. Notably, the measure itself does not contain any contribution limits; it merely cements the legislature’s constitutional authority to adopt such limits. All eyes now turn to the Oregon legislature, which is expected to take up campaign finance legislation in its 2021 session. 

Missouri

With a 51% “yes” vote, Missourians narrowly adopted Constitutional Amendment 3, called “Cleaner Missouri.” Under a 2018 initiative, “Clean Missouri,” state law capped gifts from lobbyists and principals to members and employees of the General Assembly at no more than $5 in value; Amendment 3 will now ban all such gifts, regardless of dollar value. Amendment 3 also sets the contribution limits for legislative candidates slightly lower than they had been under the 2018 initiative: at $2,400 per election to a candidate for state senate, and $2,000 per election to a candidate for state representative. But the most substantive part of Amendment 3 relates to redistricting. With the 2018 “Clean Missouri” initiative, voters had placed the redistricting process in the hands of a nonpartisan state demographer. Amendment 3 will eliminate that position and assign redistricting to a bipartisan commission appointed by the Governor. Amendment 3 goes into effect December 3, 2020.

Alaska

Ballot Measure 2 passed narrowly in Alaska, garnering 50.55% of the vote. With this measure, Alaskans adopted an open, nonpartisan primary system; ranked-choice voting for general elections; and additional disclosure requirements for persons or entities that contribute more than $2,000 in a calendar year that is derived from donations, contributions, dues, or gifts. With respect to the disclosure requirements, covered contributors will be required to disclose the “true source of such contributions and all intermediaries.” 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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