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House Bill 270

House Bill 270

Phil Haunschild
March 10, 2017

Bill Description: This bill prohibits public funds from being used to interfere with or influence an election.

Rating: +2

Analyst’s Note: This bill is a revised version of House bill 189 from earlier this legislative session. The first change made in this iteration is to further specify what “election-related information” can be disseminated prior to an election. This version would add “individual communications regarding an opinion on the merits of the election.” The second change is to allow individuals to use “public grounds or facilities that are available to the general public for political purposes, nor does it prohibit public employees or elected officials from exercising their right to free speech.” Two other changes are to amend the legislative intent and strike the specification as to where attorney’s fees will fall if the court finds that this act is violated.

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)

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