Minnesota Senate File 661 (2013)

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Minnesota Senate File 661 (2013)
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Legislature:Minnesota Legislature
Text:SF 661
Sponsor(s):Senators Katie Sieben (D-54) and Ann Rest (D-45)
Legislative History
Introduced:February 21, 2013
State house:May 20, 2013
State senate:May 20, 2013
Governor:Mark Dayton
Signed:May 24, 2013
Legal Environment
State law:Laws governing ballot measures in Minnesota
Code:Minnesota State Statutes and Code

Minnesota Senate File 661 was authored by Senators Katie Sieben (D-54) and Ann Rest (D-45) and introduced on February 21, 2013. It was approved amended several times and finally approved for the final time on May 20, 2013, and signed by governor Mark Dayton on May 24, 2013. The House authors were Ryan Winkler (D-46A) and Connie Bernardy (D-41A).[1]


The following description and summary of policy changes was provided on the National Conference of State Legislatures website:

Description: S.F. 661 includes policy and technical changes to the campaign finance and public disclosure laws (chapter 10A). Article 1 contains the policy changes, including requirements for ballot question political committees and funds; increased contribution and expenditure limits based on segments of an election cycle; increases in reporting thresholds; expansion of the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board's jurisdiction to include some fair campaign practices provisions and other changes to reporting requirements and procedures. Article 2 amends the definition of public official to include judges, justices, and county commissioners. Article 3 makes technical changes to chapter 10A. Article 4 makes conforming changes to go along with Article 3. (Please note that technical and conforming changes have been omitted from this summary.)

Article 1. Policy Changes:

Sections 1 and 2 define "ballot question political committee" and "ballot question political fund."

Section 4 clarifies that an allocation by an association of general treasury money to its political fund is considered to be a contribution for purposes of Chapter 10A.

Section 5 adds to the definition of "election cycle," by breaking it into segments. A four-year term is broken into two-year segments: election and non-election segments. For offices with a two-year term, there is only an election segment, which coincides with the term of office (e.g., January 1 following an election through December 31 of the election year). For offices with a four- or six-year term, the last two years of the term are the "election segment." The remainder of the term is the "non-election segment" or two "non-election segments."

Section 6 provides that "expressly advocating" means that a communication clearly identifies a candidate and uses words or phrases of express advocacy.

Section 7 and 8 defines "general treasury money" and "person."

Section 9 clarifies that a political committee may support one or more candidates.

Section 10 clarifies that a political fund may support one or more candidate. This section further clarifies that a political fund may also refer to an association acting through its political fund.

Section 13 expands the Board's authority to investigate alleged violations of specified provisions of the fair campaign practices chapter. The expansion of authority only applies to individuals and entities already under the Board's jurisdiction. The sections are 211B.04 (campaign literature disclaimer), 211B.12 (legal expenditures), and 211B.15 (corporate campaign contributions). Under current law, these issues fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Administrative Hearings. This section provides that the Board may bring a legal action or negotiate settlements to recover money that was raised from contributions subject to specified conditions. The process the Board must follow prior to bringing legal action is specified. The manner of distribution for recovered funds is described. This section provides that the Board must dispose of a matter under its jurisdiction before a violation may be prosecuted by a county attorney. Section 14 allows the Board to issue advisory opinions over the 211B sections specified in Section 13. Section 15 specifies the Board must deposit civil penalties into the general fund in the same manner as fees.

Section 16 strikes a reference to individuals being guilty of a gross misdemeanor and moves the penalty later in the same subdivision. An individual must not sign a report or statement knowing it contains false information or omits required information. An individual must not provide false or incomplete information to a treasurer intending the treasurer will rely on that information. A violation is a gross misdemeanor and the individual may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $3000. The Board may impose an additional civil penalty of up to $3000 on specified entities affiliated with the violator.

Section 17 extends recordkeeping requirements to an individual that has accepted record-keeping responsibility for the filer. The Board may impose up to a $3000 civil penalty on a person who violates this section, with an additional civil penalty of up to $3000 on affiliated entities. A violation is a gross misdemeanor.

Section 18 amends the gift ban. The prohibitions of the gift ban do not apply to food and beverages at a reception, meal, or meeting if the recipient is a member or employee of the legislature and the invitation to the reception, meal, or meeting was provided to all members of the legislature at least 5 days before the event.

Sections 19 and 20 change the threshold for forming a principal campaign committee or political fund account from $100 to $750.

Section 21 changes the threshold for forming an independent expenditure political committee or fund from $100 to $1500. The threshold for forming a ballot question political committee or fund is $5000.

Section 22 clarifies that it is not considered to be commingling funds for an association that uses only its own general treasury money to make permitted expenditures and disbursements directly from the general treasury depository. If an association accepts more than $1500 in contributions to influence the nomination or election of candidates or more than $5000 in contributions to promote or defeat a ballot question, the association must establish a separate depository.

Section 23 lists permitted disbursements for an independent expenditure political committee or fund and for a ballot question political committee or fund.

Section 24 changes the threshold for filing a registration statement from $100 to $750, consistent with changes made in Sections 19 and 20. This section does not apply to ballot question or independent expenditure political committees or funds specified in Section 25.

Section 25 provides the process for the first registration and reporting by independent expenditure or ballot question political committees and funds. The threshold for forming such a committee or fund is receiving or spending more than $1500 in a calendar year for independent expenditures or spending or receiving $5000 in a calendar year to promote or defeat a ballot question. These thresholds are consistent with changes made in Section 22.

Section 27 increases the time in which a treasurer may return a contribution from 60 days to 90 days.

Section 28 links the need to begin filing required reports to the threshold for the entity rather than to a specific dollar amount.

Section 29 requires a state party committee, a party unit, and principal campaign committees of candidates for constitutional or appellate court judicial office to file the same reports currently required by political committees and funds. The timing of the reports is specified.

Section 30 specifies that the required report must include each of the specified items that are applicable to the filer, instead of requiring all filers to provide all information. The Board must create forms based on filer type that indicate which items must be included. The itemization threshold is increased from $100 to $200.

Section 31 separates out different recipients and specifies the threshold based on the office for the pre-election report. The notice requirement for candidates, other than judges, is set at half of the election cycle contribution limit (instead of the current 80 percent of the annual contribution limit). The reporting requirements do not apply to ballot question or independent expenditure political committees or funds that have not met the registration threshold.

Section 32 requires a candidate that does not have a principal campaign committee to file the specified report when the candidate spends more than $750, which is increased from $100. An individual who makes independent expenditures of more than $1500 in a calendar year or expenditures to promote or defeat a ballot question of more than $5000 in a calendar year must file the required report.

Section 33 specifies that the treasurer of a principal campaign committee, party unit, or political committee (instead of any reporting entity) must file a statement of inactivity if there are no receipts or expenditures during a reporting period.

Section 34 specifies that an association is not required to file any statement or report for a reporting period when the association accepted no contributions and made no expenditures from its political fund.

Section 36 allows a political committee, political fund, principal campaign committee, or party unit to terminate after it has disposed of all of its assets in excess of $100. The termination is done by filing a report of receipts and expenditures and must be identified as a termination report. A definition of "assets" is provided. Parameters around the disposition of assets are provided. This section replaces the current section of law on termination that is repealed by the bill.

Section 37 allows an association that has a political fund to choose to have the fund placed on voluntary inactive status if the specified conditions are met. While on inactive status, the association is not required to file reports. The association may not accept contributions or make expenditures while on inactive status. An association can return to active status by notifying the board. A civil penalty may be imposed for conducting financial activity while on inactive status.

Section 38 specifies when principal campaign committees, political committees, political funds, and party units become inactive. The board may terminate the registration of these inactive entities by following the prescribed process. This section replaces the current section of law on dissolution of inactive committees and funds, which is repealed by the bill.

Section 39 specifies that termination of registration does not affect the liability of an association or its candidates, officers, or other individuals for obligations incurred in the name of the association or its political fund.

Section 40 makes spending limits applicable to an election cycle, rather than a single year. Spending limits are increased. The limit is determined by whether the candidate is in an election segment or nonelection segment. The section clarifies that the expenditure limit is increased by 10 percent for a candidate who has not previously held the same office, whose name has not previously been on the primary or general election ballot for that office, and who has not in the past 10 years raised or spent more than $750 in a run for certain other offices; current law refers only to a candidate is running for the office for the first time.

Section 41 changes spending limits applicable to multiple committees of the same candidate for constitutional offices to an election cycle limit.

Section 42 clarifies that for the purposes of the whole chapter, and not just the specified sections, a candidate for governor and a candidate for lieutenant governor are considered a single candidate.

Section 43 provides that an amount of up to 25 percent of the election cycle expenditure limit may be carried forward; current law allows 50 percent of the annual expenditure limit to be carried forward.

Section 44 makes contribution limits applicable over an election cycle rather than a single year. Contribution limits are increased. The limit is determined by whether the candidate is in an election segment or nonelection segment. An association that has a political fund or an association not registered with the board must not make a contribution that a candidate is prohibited from accepting.

Section 45 provides that a candidate who signs a public subsidy agreement must not contribute to his or her own campaign during an election segment more than five times the segment contribution limit.

Section 46 extends the aggregate special source contribution limit to include contributions from associations not registered with the Board.

Section 47 increases the amount that may be accepted from an association not registered with the Board from $100 to $200. This section specifies that this limit does not apply when a national political party contributes money to its state committee (this is in current law, but the bill places it in a different location) or to certain types of purchases by candidates.

Section 48 allows an association to contribute business revenue to ballot question political committees.

Section 49 extends the reporting of underlying sources of an association’s general treasury money to ballot question political committees or funds. The threshold contribution is increased to $5,000.

Section 50 clarifies that in-kind contributions are not counted in an affidavit of contributions from a candidate who receives public subsidies. The candidate must file an affidavit with the board stating that the principal campaign committee has complied with the stated requirements.

Section 51 provides that individuals acting on behalf of a corporation who violates the section on corporate political contributions is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000. A knowing violation of the same section may result in criminal penalties.

Section 52 provides that a corporation who violates the section on corporate political contributions is subject of a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000. A knowing violation is a crime and a corporation may be fined and dissolved or forfeit its rights to do business in the state. Section 53 provides a definition of "knowing violation."

Section 54 specifies that complaints for violations of chapter 211B, as described in section 12 of the bill, should be filed with the Board and not the Office of Administration Hearings.

Section 55 repeals sections relating to termination that are replaced by new language in the bill. This bill also repeals a subdivision that relates to non-election-year spending limits, which is no longer necessary because the bill makes contribution limits apply to a whole election cycle.

Section 56 provides that this article is effective the day following final enactment.[2][3]

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Minnesota State Legislature website, Minnesota Senate File 661
  2. National Conference of State Legislatures website," accessed January 20, 2014
  3. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.