"The arms race for money that drives our campaigns threatens the concept of one person, one vote."
NCVCE Legislative Agenda
1) RESTORE VOTER-OWNED ELECTIONS: Through the Coalition’s advocacy, North Carolina has boasted some of the most effective “voter-owned” public financing programs in the country. In recent years these programs were ended by state lawmakers, but we believe the growing threat of Big Money influence – and the public’s appetite for solutions with a proven track record – make this the right time to revive public financing in North Carolina.
In 2015, N.C. Voters for Clean Elections will begin rolling out a new voter-owned elections program that allows candidates who qualify through raising small donations to receive grants that allow them to compete without having to rely on special interests. Especially important will be winning back our landmark judicial public financing program. State courts touch nearly every American’s life, from rulings on marriage equality to voting laws to the environment to death penalty cases.
2) PROTECT THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW: With millions of dollars flooding into state elections, the public has the right to know who is trying to influence our government. In 2014, the Coalition scored a major victory with the passage of HB 919, which will ensure election spending is disclosed electronically and more accurately.
In 2015, we will work to heighten transparency by making sure outside spending groups disclose their spending in a timely manner. The coalition will work to re-file a version of House Bill 918, a bill which passed the House in the 2013-2014 session but died due to Senate inaction. In 2015 the Coalition aims to pass a revived bill that will provide the public with a clearer idea of who is pouring money into races, especially close to Election Day.
3) DRAWING FAIR POLITICAL LINES: As part of our coalition plan, in 2015 we will be supporting work to create an impartial, nonpartisan system for drawing legislative and Congressional districts. The bi-partisan push for fair drawing of political lines goes hand in hand with efforts to curb Big Money influence and strengthen the voice of ordinary voters.
Common Cause-NC will be a leader in the bipartisan push for building public and legislative support for non partisan redistricting reform. A bi-partisan bill has been filed which has already gained the support of a variety of civic and community leaders, including an endorsement from the NC League of Municipalities.
2010 Legislative Agenda
The NC General Assembly is considering several campaign reform proposals that seek to improve confidence in state government and respond to the potential for massive new spending by corporations. For this package of reforms to produce a long-term and meaningful improvement in the state political process, it should include an expansion of the state’s Voter-Owned Elections programs, which offer realistic, citizen-funded alternatives to the campaign money chase. These systems match citizens' small donations with public money, replacing politicians' (bad) dependency on special interests with a (good) dependency on voters.
With two Voter-Owned Elections expansion bills alive for the short session, the NC General Assembly has a great opportunity to invest further in these innovative campaign financing systems. By passing these bills—or including versions of them in a larger reform package—state leaders would make a significant dent in the ability of special interests and corporations to skew elections and help restore voter confidence in state government.
1. The General Assembly should create a permanent, funded, and expanded Council of State program. Candidates running for offices like the State Treasurer, Commissioner of Labor, and Commissioner of Agriculture should not have to rely on campaign financing from the groups or industries these offices do business with or directly regulate. Legislation approved by and introduced in the NC Senate (SB-20 andSB-966, respectively provide good blueprints for what a meaningful Council of State initiative would look like. Both bills expand the program beyond the three offices included in the 2008 pilot and assess small user fees on regulated industries to cover the program’s costs.
2. The General Assembly should authorize additional municipalities to create local public financing programs. Many cities and towns across the state have expressed interest in creating local Voter-Owned Elections programs, after seeing the benefit and success of Chapel Hill's first-run with local public campaign financing in 2009. The cities of Raleigh, Wilmington, Greenville, Durham, Winston-Salem, Asheville and the town of Cary have all passed resolutions asking thestate to give them authority to establish Voter-Owned Elections programs for their own local elections. Legislation approved in 2009 by the NC House (HB-120) provides a good blueprint for this initiative. The bill authorizes municipalities with more than 50,000 residents to create local programs and establishes strict criteria for how these programs should be designed and administered.