SB10-203: Colo. Lawmakers Respond To Citizens United

Editor’s Note: This bill has since been introduced and has been titled SB10-203. It’s published below this report.

By Matt Masich, STATE BILL COLORADO

Colorado lawmakers are introducing legislation today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations and labor unions to make unlimited independent expenditures advocating for political candidates or issues.

Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, and House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, are sponsoring a bill, to be introduced before the day is out in the state Senate, that they say would close a loopholes in the state’s campaign finance laws created by Citizens United.

“If we do nothing,” Carroll said, “we will have literally, potentially an unlimited amount of corporate and labor union spending without disclosures in the state of Colorado, up to and including foreign corporations….”

The proposed bill would force corporations and unions that make independent expenditures of $1,000 or more to register an “independent expenditure committee” with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. These committee’s finances would be made searchable on that agency’s website.

Citizens United opened up another gap in state law, Carroll said.

“Colorado campaign finance law prohibits foreign persons from being able to contribute to Colorado’s campaigns,” she said. But there are currently no prohibitions on foreign corporations; the proposed bill would ban such contributions.

“We’ve crafted a proposal that the citizens deserve, Weissmann said, adding that the measure would make it so that “individuals, corporations and unions are all under the same rules if they start playing politics.”

Carroll said she imagined some corporations and unions might oppose the bill, but that she didn’t know for certain of any opposition. If it passes, she said, it would be enacted immediately in anticipation of the 2010 elections.

Carroll and Weissmann distributed a fact sheet, below, to support their push for greater disclosure from corporations and unions.

Citizens

SB203

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