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Exemptions for campaign reporting

Published (2/22/2008)
By Brian Hogenson
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Some lobbying activity could become exempt from campaign finance reporting requirements.

Sponsored by Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr. (DFL-Winona) and Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), HF1036/SF758* would exempt lobbying activity at the Legislature related to certifying a ballot question for placement on a statewide ballot. It makes a distinction between lobbying the Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot and actually campaigning for voters to approve or reject the amendment once on the ballot.

It was approved, Feb. 14, by the House Governmental Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections Committee and sent to the House floor. The bill was approved 65-0 by the Senate last year.

Expenditures in excess of $100 on activities designed to promote or defeat a ballot question must now be reported to the board.

Marcia Avner, public policy director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, said the ruling that lobbying on constitutional amendments must be reported as political activity poses a problem for nonprofits and charities.

We dont have political PACS. We dont do political activity, Avner said. We understand that in the period of time when a group may be working on a ballot initiative that may be more political, but when we are lobbying at the Legislature we want to be consistent with all our other federal and state lobbying requirements. We report our lobbying at the Legislature as lobbying.

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