Gov. Rick Snyder signs legislation aligning state elections regulation with federal case law
New laws increase transparency through improved reporting requirements of contributions, expenditures
Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of State will now have clear statutory guidance and a framework within which it can regulate independent expenditure committees thanks to bills signed today by Gov. Rick Snyder.
“The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on this issue more than seven years ago, and still there has been confusion about how this decision affects Michigan law,” Snyder said. “Under the bills signed into law today, the Department of State finally has clear statutory authority to regulate independent expenditure committees, to mandate registration and reporting of contributions and expenditures, and to investigate and punish entities violating those regulations.”
Senate Bills 335-36, sponsored by state Sen. Dave Robertson, amend the Michigan Campaign Finance Act to align it with federal case law which provides that the First Amendment protects the political speech rights of associations, and labor unions, as well as for- and not-for-profit organizations making independent expenditures that are not in any way directly or indirectly coordinated with any candidate, candidate committee, political party, or political party committee. This codifies the ruling in Citizens United by the United States Supreme Court, and Michigan Chamber of Commerce v Land by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in 2010.
The bills provide clear guidelines for filing and regulating campaign contributors and authorizes penalties for violations and late filings. Transparency is increased through the requirement of accurate and appropriate reporting of both contributions and expenditures. Neither bill addresses funding of indirect issue advocacy, also known as “dark money”. The MCFA does not regulate such activities.
The bills are now Public Acts 119 and 120 of 2017.
For more information on this and other legislation, visit www.legislature.mi.gov.
For more information on state campaign finance laws, visit www.michigan.gov/sos.