A slew of bills concerning campaign spending, elections and open government are set for hearings in two committees Tuesday.

In the morning, Senate Judiciary and Labor will hear measures submitted by the Office of Elections and the Campaign Spending Commission.

The bills increase from $1,000 to $10,000 the fine for providing false information when registering to vote late or at an absentee polling place, increase fines assessed against people other than individuals for campaign spending violations, and distinguish the “dissemination, distribution, and republication” of campaign materials from other coordinated activities.

Another measure says that the preparation of absentee ballots for counting may include opening the return envelope in which the ballot is enclosed and the validation of signatures, “but shall not include opening the ballot envelope.”

In the afternoon, House Judiciary has a couple of items on its agenda, ones that did not make it out of the last session and so carry over to the present.

Rep. Karl Rhoads.
Rep. Karl Rhoads chairs the House Judiciary. Civil Beat

One bill would repeal the prohibition against “willfully” exhibiting one’s own ballot. My read of the measure’s language is that there would still be protections against someone trying to hijack another person’s ballot.

Another measure “broadens the policies regarding open government” to include greater public participation, input,and access to documents, reports and proposals under consideration at meetings, with certain limitations.

The bill includes this laudable language:

In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power.  Governmental agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public’s interest.

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