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Committee Substitute House Bill 2086 History

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COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE

FOR

H. B. 2086

(By Delegates Smirl and Frederick)


(Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary)


[April 3, 1997]


A BILL to amend and reenact section eight, article eight, chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to eliminating the prohibition for railroads and utilities forming political action committees by the year two thousand; and requiring the attorney general to do a study relating to the constitutionality thereof.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section eight, article eight, chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 8. REGULATION AND CONTROL OF ELECTIONS.

§3-8-8. Corporation contributions forbidden; exceptions; promulgation of rules; additional powers of state election commission; investigations of violations of article; duties of attorney general; criminal penalties.

(a) No officer of any corporation, or agent or person on behalf of such the corporation, whether incorporated under the laws of this or any other state, or foreign country, shall pay, give or lend, or authorize to be paid, given or lent, any money or other thing of value belonging to such the corporation, to any candidate, financial agent or political committee or other person, for the payment of any primary or other election expenses whatever. No person shall solicit or receive such payment, contribution or other thing from any corporation, officer or agent thereof, or other person acting on behalf of such the corporation.
(b) (1) The provisions of this section shall may not be deemed to prohibit:
(A) Direct communications, other than by newspapers of general circulation, radio, television or billboard advertising likely to reach the general public, by a corporation to its stockholders and executive or administrative personnel and their families on any subject;
(B) Nonpartisan registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns by a corporation aimed at its stockholders and executives or administrative personnel and their families; and
(C) The solicitation of contributions to a separate segregated fund to be utilized for political purposes by any corporate officer, agent or any person on behalf of a corporation. Any such fund shall be deemed to be is a political committee for the purpose of this article and subject to all reporting requirements thereof.
(2) It shall be unlawful:
(A) For such a fund to make a contribution or expenditure by utilizing money or anything of value secured by physical force, job discrimination, financial reprisal or the threat of force, job discrimination or financial reprisal, or as a condition of employment, or by moneys obtained in any commercial transaction;
(B) For any person soliciting a stockholder, executive or administrative personnel and members of their family for a contribution to such a fund to fail to inform such the person of the political purposes of such the fund at the time of such the solicitation;
(C) For any person soliciting any other person for a contribution to such a fund to fail to inform such the other person at the time of such the solicitation of his or her right to refuse to so contribute without any reprisal;
(D) For a corporation, or a separate segregated fund established by a corporation to solicit contributions to such a fund from any person other than its stockholders and their families and its executive or administrative personnel and their families or to contribute any corporate funds;
(E) For a corporation, or a separate segregated fund established by a corporation to receive contributions to such a fund from any person other than its stockholders and their immediate families and its executive or administrative personnel and their immediate families;
(F) For a corporation to engage in job discrimination or to discriminate in job promotion or transfer because of an employee's failure to make a contribution to such the fund;
(G) For such a fund directly or indirectly to make any contribution in excess of the value of one thousand dollars in connection with any campaign for nomination or election to or on behalf of any elective office in the state or any of its subdivisions, or in connection with or on behalf of any committee or other organization or person engaged in furthering, advancing or advocating the nomination or election of any candidate for any such office; and
(H) For a corporation to pay, give or lend, or authorize to be paid, given or lent, any moneys or other things of value belonging to such the corporation to such a fund for any purpose. This provision shall may not be deemed to prohibit such a fund from using the property, real or personal, facilities and equipment of a corporation solely to establish, administer and solicit contributions to the fund, subject to the rules and regulations of the state election commission as provided in subsection (d) of this section: Provided, That such the corporation shall also permit any group of employees thereof represented by a bona fide political action committee to use the real property of such the corporation solely to establish, administer and solicit contributions to the fund of such the political action committee, subject to the rules and regulations of the state elections election commission as provided in subsection (d) of this section. No such property, real or personal, facilities, equipment, materials or services of a corporation shall be utilized for the purpose of influencing any voter or voters to vote for a particular candidate, or in any particular manner, or upon any particular side of any question to be decided at any election, or to influence the result of any such election.
(I) Public utility companies and railroad companies may not form funds or political action committees in support of political candidates or parties, and may not use corporate property, real or personal, facilities, equipment, materials or services of said utility companies or railroad companies to establish, administer or solicit contributions to such fund or political action committee: Provided, That the provisions of this subparagraph (I) shall expire and be of no further effect on and after the first day of July, two thousand. The Legislature hereby declares that the aforementioned expiration date is established due to the fact that, based upon decisions of state and federal courts, there exist serious questions as to the constitutionality of allowing certain political activities by certain legal entities to the specific exclusion of other legal entities. The Legislature further finds that such constitutional questions should be thoroughly researched and examined so that the Legislature may make such determinations and take such actions as are necessary to ensure the constitutionality of state statutes. Therefore, the Legislature hereby directs the attorney general to undertake an examination of the constitutionality of allowing certain political activities by certain legal entities to the specific exclusion of other legal entities as will exist prior to the aforementioned expiration date. Also, the attorney general is directed to seek legal opinions and legal redress in order to conduct analysis concerning whether West Virginia, in the context of current federal or state statutory or case law, may regulate independent expenditures, or regulate or prohibit contribution limits, whether by individuals, candidates, candidate's personal funds, political party contributions, corporate contributions, or political action committees for railroads and utilities. The Legislature hereby directs the attorney general to submit its findings, conclusions and any recommendations for legislation to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Delegates no later than the first day of January, one thousand nine hundred ninety eight.
(3) For the purposes of this section, the term "executive or administrative personnel" means individuals employed by a corporation who are paid on a salary rather than hourly basis and who have policy making, managerial, professional or supervisory responsibilities.
(c) Any person or corporation violating any provision of this section shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, on upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars. No corporation shall reimburse any person the amount of any such fine imposed pursuant to this section.
(d) The state election commission shall promulgate legislative rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this section, which rules, and regulations insofar as practicable, shall be the same as the rules and regulations promulgated by the federal election commission to carry out those provisions of 2 USC § 441b which are similar or identical to those provisions contained in this section in order that the provisions of this section and the regulations rules promulgated thereunder and the similar provisions of 2 USC § 441b and the regulations promulgated thereunder may be uniformly administered and applied to corporations subject to the cited section of the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1976 and to this section. The state election commission shall promulgate such rules and regulations not later than sixty days after the effective date of this subsection and in doing so shall be governed by in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
(e) (1) In addition to its powers and duties as set forth in article one-a of this chapter, the state election commission shall have the following powers and duties:
1. (A) To investigate, upon complaint or on its own initiative, any alleged violations or irregularities of this article;
2. (B) To administer oaths and affirmations, issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses, issue subpoenas duces tecum to compel the production of books, papers, records and all other evidence necessary to any investigation;
3. (C) To involve the aid of any circuit court in the execution of its subpoena power;
4. (D) To report any alleged violations of this article to the appropriate prosecuting attorney having jurisdiction, which prosecuting attorney shall present to the grand jury such the alleged violations, together with all evidence relating thereto, no later than the next term of court after receiving the report.
(2) It shall be the duty of the attorney general to provide such legal and investigative assistance to the state election commission as it may request and require.
(3) Any investigation either upon complaint or initiative, shall be conducted in an executive session of the state election commission and shall remain undisclosed except upon an indictment by a grand jury.
(4) Any person who shall disclose the fact of any complaint, investigation or report or any part thereof, or any proceedings thereon, shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than one thousand dollars, nor more than five thousand dollars, and shall be imprisoned in the county jail not less than six months nor more than one year.


NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to prohibit political contributions by corporations and exceptions thereto.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
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