H-0619.1  _______________________________________________


                          HOUSE BILL 1917



State of Washington      57th Legislature     2001 Regular Session


By Representative Dunshee


Read first time 02/08/2001.  Referred to Committee on State Government.

Creating a program of voluntary campaign spending limits for state offices.

    AN ACT Relating to spending in election campaigns; adding a new section to chapter 42.17 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 29.81 RCW; creating a new section; and providing an effective date.




    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  The tremendous increases in the costs of election campaigns, when coupled with recently enacted limits on campaign contributions, creates a situation favoring the election of wealthy candidates able to spend substantial amounts of their own resources for the purpose of winning elections and those candidates who receive their contributions from sources that have been able to proliferate to avoid, as a practical matter, the contribution limits.  In order to decrease the advantage of a candidate's wealth or nimble contribution sources in election contests, the legislature enacts this law directing the adoption of voluntary campaign spending limits for state election contests and disclosure of those candidates who agree to abide by the voluntary limits and those who do not.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  A new section is added to chapter 42.17 RCW to read as follows:

    (1) The public disclosure commission shall adopt recommended spending limits for candidates for the following offices:  Governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, attorney general, commissioner of public lands, insurance commissioner, superintendent of public instruction, member of the state senate, and member of the state house of representatives.  In adopting the recommended spending limits, the commission shall consider the average expenditure amounts for the candidates who received the highest and next highest number of votes in the 2000 general elections for each office for which the commission is required to recommend a spending limit.  Unless the commission finds that these amounts would be inappropriate or unrealistic or that adjustments in the amounts to reflect geographic differences in legislative districts are warranted, the commission shall base its recommended spending limits on the average expenditure amounts.

    (2) Beginning in 2003, the commission shall biennially adjust the recommended spending limits adopted under subsection (1) of this section based on changes in economic conditions as reflected in the inflationary index used by the commission under RCW 42.17.370.

    (3) Each candidate for an office subject to a recommended spending limit may execute, and file with the commission, a promise that the candidate will stay within the limit.  A candidate's promise that is executed and filed in conformance with this section and with the rules adopted by the commission to implement this section is binding on the candidate.  A candidate who violates his or her promise to stay within the voluntary spending limit is in violation of this chapter.  The commission shall remove the name of such a candidate from the list prepared under subsection (5) of this section.

    (4) The commission shall prescribe the form that will be used for executing a promise under this section.  The promise must be filed not later than the tenth day after the close of the filing period for the office.

    (5) For each election involving an office for which voluntary expenditure limits have been established under this section, the commission shall compile a list of those candidates who filed promises in a timely manner.  The commission shall promptly make the list available to the media and the public.  The announcement of its availability must be made by the executive director of the commission or an employee designated by the chair of the commission to make such an announcement.  During an election campaign, the commission shall periodically publish a list identifying each candidate who has executed a binding promise under this section.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.  A new section is added to chapter 29.81 RCW to read as follows:

    The secretary of state shall add to each voters' pamphlet a list of the campaign spending limits recommended by the public disclosure commission for each of the state offices for which the statements of candidates appear in the pamphlet and a brief explanation of the effect of a promise filed with the commission under section 2 of this act.

    In preparing the voters' pamphlet for publication, the secretary of state shall secure from the public disclosure commission its most current list of candidates who have promised to limit spending, as that list is specified in section 2 of this act.  Using this list, the secretary shall add a prominent notice in the candidates' pamphlet to accompany the statement or photograph of each person on the list.  The notice will state:  "Has promised to abide by the voluntary spending limit for this campaign."  With the statement in the pamphlet of each other candidate for state office, the secretary shall add a prominent notice stating:  "Has NOT promised to abide by the voluntary spending limit for this campaign."  The notice will accompany the statement or photograph of each such other candidate. 

    For the purposes of this section, "state office" means the offices listed in section 2(1) of this act for which the public disclosure commission has adopted recommended spending limits.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4.  This act takes effect January 1, 2002.


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