With the 6 year anniversary of Citizens United this month, there has been lots of reflection about how our democracy is impacted by wealthy interests and outside spending. We’ve seen huge increases in political spending at all levels of government – but we’ve also seen a reform movement that’s led to people-powered victories in Tallahassee, Maine, Seattle and other cities and states across the country. It may be a long, concentrated fight, but this last year has shown that we will win!
ACTION OF THE MONTH
POTUS Agitates for Change on Elections, Especially Gerrymandering
President Obama used his State of the Union to push for broad election reforms, including fighting gerrymandering with bipartisan commissions, reducing the role of money and making it easier to vote. Obama said he would use his term to push action on these issues across the country.
POTUS (Again) Considering Action on Secret Money
The New York Times and The Washington Post have both reported that, following his call to action in the SOTU, Obama is “seriously considering” issuing an executive order that activists have been pushing for years as a partial solution to secret money. The order would require government contractors to disclose their political spending, which would cover most major companies in the United States.
FL Senate Maps Finally Settled
The Florida Senate has declined to appeal a Leon County court decision establishing new maps based on districts drawn by voting rights groups. The lawsuit stemmed from district's drawn by the one-party legislature after the state’s 2010 voter-passed law outlawing partisanship in redistricting.
WA Initiative to Overturn Citizens United Certified; CA Court Allows Initiative but Battle Continues
Meanwhile, the Oregon Secretary of State certified the signature collected by WAmend, meaning that initiative I-735 calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United will be on the Washington ballot in 2016! Congrats WAmend!
The California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 49, which would call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, can be placed on the California ballot, but left it up to the legislature to decide to put it on the ballot (again). Money Out Voters In and other activist groups are back in court, but this may lead to another fight in the legislature.
Chicago Aldermen Propose Public Financing System
Following up on a non-binding voter initiative that showed 79% of Chicago voters want a public financing system, three alderman are proposing just that as a solution to voter cynicism and big money. The system would match contributions up to $175 six times, with a limit of $500 on contributions.
MLK Holiday Marked by Need to Aggressively Protect Voting Rights
As the country honored Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, advocates spoke out on the modern threats to voting rights, including the weakening of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and voter id laws in 33 states. The day after MLK day, lawmakers in Missouri introduced legislation to make it 34.