Minnesota                      

Campaign Finance and  

Public Disclosure Board

         

 

 190 Centennial Building . 658 Cedar Street . St. Paul, MN 55155-1603                                                cfboard.state.mn.us

 

 

 

2004 Legislative Recommendations

 

 

 

1.         The Board requests that the House pass SF 931.  During the 2003 session, the house version of the bill was recommended to pass as amended in the Governmental Operations and Veterans Affairs Policy Committee.  The senate version, SF 931, was passed by the full senate and sent to the house. The bills were not identical so the house file was replaced with the senate file.  Action on the bill in the house was indefinitely postponed.  Once passed by the house, the Board urges the Governor to sign the final version of the bill.

 

2.         The Board recommends that no fees be imposed on lobbyists, political committees, political fund, candidate, and political party units.  The Board believes that imposition of fees would have a negative effect on access and disclosure.

 

 

ECONOMIC INTEREST PROVISIONS

 

3.         Review economic interest disclosure to determine if the financial reporting levels instituted in 1974 are still appropriate.  Candidates and public officials must list holdings and real estate if their share is in excess of $2,500 and income greater than $50 in a month.  The legislature should determine if amounts first put in place in 1974 are still appropriate levels 30 years later.

 

4.         Amend the definition of ‘association' to include all types of legal entities.  The current definition means a group off two or more person, who are not all members of an immediate family.  Since the term was first defined, other legal entities have been established.  The disclosure requirement should include all types of legal entities.

 

5.         Define ‘Immediate Family'.  The phrase is used in the definition of ‘Association' and also in the requirement to list interests in pari-mutual horse racing.  The Board is unsure of the legislature's intent in the definition of immediate family.

 

6.         The Board suggests that the legislature review economic interest disclosure to determine if the disclosure increases the chances of identity theft.

 

 

CAMPAIGN FINANCE PROVISIONS

 

7.         Change the time to four years (from six years) in the definition of inactivity for principal campaign committees.  Four years covers at least one full cycle for legislative and constitutional office candidates.  Judicial candidates, with six year terms, usually register in the year of their election and terminate immediately following the election.  

 

8.         Clarify multi-candidate expenditures.  The Board first requested this clarification in 2002. Since then, the Court of Appeals ruled that the Board's interpretation is incorrect as it relates to sample ballots and fund-raising efforts on behalf of three or more candidates.  

 

 

GIFT BAN PROVISIONS

 

The Board suggests changes in Minn. Stat. §10A.071, the prohibition of gifts, to make those provisions conform to other existing statutes.

 

9.    Federal Conformity

 

A gift that meets the following criteria is deemed acceptable on the congressional level if:

 

a. There is a past pattern of gift exchanges between the lobbyist and the official, AND

b.      A similar gift is not being given to other officials, AND

c.      The lobbyist is not seeking reimbursement from an employer or principal and is not taking a tax deduction for the gift.

 

If all of the above conditions exist, similar changes should be made in 10A.071.  However, the legislature should place a maximum amount per gift, per year, or some other limit on these gifts.

 

10.   Local Conformity

 

      In 2001, the legislature amended Minn. Stat. §471.895 (the ban on gifts to local officials) to provide an additional exception: 

 

“The prohibition does not apply if the gift is given “by a national or multi-state organization of governmental organizations of public officials, if a majority of the dues to the organization are paid from public funds, to attendees at a conference sponsored by that organization, if the gift is food or a beverage given at a reception or meal and an equivalent gift is given or offered to all other attendees."

 

The Board has stated this in an advisory opinion but does not have a rule.  The legislature may wish to add this to the exceptions in Minn. Stat. §10A.071, subd. 3.

 

 

The Board requests the legislature to review the above recommendations and determine which items have bi-partisan support.  Those non-controversial items should be separated from other items that need more discussion.  If two bills are offered, the non-controversial items will not be held up by the required discussion.