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House Bill 189

House Bill 189

Phil Haunschild
February 17, 2017

Bill description: This bill prohibits public funds from being used to interfere with or influence a bond or levy election.

Rating: +2

Analyst’s note: The amended version of this bill has been changed substantially from its first iteration of House Bill 134. The bill does not have the six months jail stipulation, reducing the severity of punishment for those who violate provisions of this chapter but does include that payment of restitution may be required. This iteration does not prohibit the use of mass communication just before an election. The bill also specifies the prohibition only applies to government entities, employees, officers or agents, but they do retain their right to free speech in advocating for or against. Lastly, the bill only applies to bond and levy elections.

Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt? 

Government officials are finding new and sophisticated ways to commit tax dollars in attempts to sway the outcome of elections. IdahoReporter.com covered one such example of this practice in Dec. 2016. With hundreds of schools, municipalities, agencies and departments, each promoting their own ballot measures, there is no telling the savings to taxpayers and the impact on budgets by prohibiting this questionable practice. (+1)

Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability? 

Allowing government agencies to use taxpayer funds to campaign for their own causes is an affront to accountability. The practice is as unacceptable as elected officials using public funds to pay for propaganda to promote their own causes. This bill will prevent this unaccountable use of public funds. (+1)

Update: This bill was amended in the House 3/2. The analysis has been updated to take this into account.

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