Senate Bill 77/Assembly Bill 272
February 27, 2008
Senate Bill 77 is bipartisan truth-in-campaigning legislation requiring full disclosure of sham issue ads – advertisements masquerading as issue advocacy that plainly support the election or defeat of a candidate. SB 77 would ensure everyone involved in electioneering activity plays by the same rules and uses legal sources of funds to pay for campaign messages.
This bill is based on Step 1 in the Democracy Campaign’s "Power to the Voter" agenda – truth in campaigning. SB 77 was introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Campaign Finance Reform, Rural Issues and Information Technology on February 28, 2007. The committee held a public hearing on SB 77 on May 1 and voted to approve the bill on May 8. On May 9 the full Senate passed SB77 on a 26-7 vote.
Legislation almost identical to SB 77 was introduced in the Assembly on April 23, 2007 as Assembly Bill 272 and referred to the Assembly Elections and Constitutional Law Committee. An attempt to pull AB 272 out of the committee and bring it up for a vote in the full Assembly was rejected on a 51-46 vote on February 27, 2008.
SB 77 and AB 272 were written before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2007 in a case brought by Wisconsin Right to Life challenging disclosure provisions in the federal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold law. Legislation revising SB 77/AB 272 to take into account the Court’s decision was introduced in February 2008 as Senate Bill 463.