Recent Changes to the Political Reform Act

Below are summaries of the significant legislative and regulatory changes made to the Political Reform Act (Act) in 2017. The legislative provisions of the following bills take effect January 1, 2018.

AB 187 (Gloria) AB 249 (Mullin)
AB 551 (Levine) AB 867 (Cooley)
AB 1620 (Dababneh) SB 45 (Mendoza)
SB 226 (Hertzberg) SB 358 (Stern)

AB 895 (Quirk) was approved in 2017, but will not be effective until the Secretary of State certifies a new online disclosure and filing system. SB 267 (Pan) will take effect immediately. 

To view the full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/. Visit the FPPC's Regulations page for full text of the regulations. For a printable version of the summary of changes, click here.

Campaign Changes

Local Ballot Measure Qualification Expenditures (AB 187 (Gloria) - Chapter 183, Statutes of 2017)

This bill requires a committee to file an acitivty-based report each time it makes contributions or independent expenditures of $5,000 or more to support or oppose the qualification of a single local initiative or referendum. The committee must file this report in the same local jurisdiction as the local intiative or referendum as if the committee was primarily formed to support or oppose the measure. The report must be filed within 10 business days of reaching $5,000 in aggregate. 

Comprehensive Changes to Campaign Advertising Disclaimers (AB 249 (Mullin) - Chapter 546, Statutes of 2017)

This bill makes comprehensive amendments and adds new requirements to advertising disclaimers for all advertising formats. Generally ballot measure committees and indpendent expenditures will have to list their top donors in accordance with formatting and other criteria listed in the bill. The FPPC will be releasing additional information about AB 249's requirements. A preliminary chart comparing current law to AB 249 has been added to the FPPC's Learn - Campaign Advertising page

Removing Paper Original and Copy of Campaign Statement (AB 895 (Quirk) - Chapter 111, Statutes of 2017)

This bill is not operative until the Secretary of State certifies an online filing and disclosure system. This bill removes the requirement to file paper a original and copy in addition to online filing for candidates and controlled committees for state office, statewide ballot measure, and state general purpose committees. 

Slate Mailer Disclaimers Public Safety Organizations (SB 226 (Hertzberg) - Chapter 855, Statutes of 2017)

If a slate mailer organization or other mass mailing identifies itself as representing public safety professions, as defined, then the slate mailer or mass mailing must disclose additional information in a format and under other specifications, as described in law. 

City of Sacramento Campaign Finance Ordinance (SB 267 (Pan) - Chapter 622, Statutes of 2017)

This bill authorizes the Fair Political Practices Commission to have primary responsibility for the impartial, effective administration, implementation, and enforcement of the local campaign ordiannce of the City of Sacramento upon the adoption of an agreement between the City and the Commission. The Commission must provide a report to the Legislature about the agreement by January 1, 2022. 

State Recall Elections

The limit on inter-candidate contributions of campaign funds in Section 85305 does not apply to contributions to a committee controlled by an elected state officer opposing a recall measure as described in Section 85315. (Rios Opinion – O-17-001 and Regulation 18535)

Post-Government Employment Restrictions

Independent Contractors for Local Government Agency (AB 551 (Levine) - Chapter 196, Statures of 2017)

Generally, the law prohibits a local elected official, chief administrative offer of a county, city manager, or other high ranking local official from leaving office and lobbying their former agency for compensation for one year after leaving office. There is a general exemption for former officials who lobby for another local goverment agency as an employee or representative. This bill would apply the one year lobbying prohibition to a former official who became an independent contractor for a local government agency. 

Legislators Who Leave Prior to the End of the Term (AB 1620 (Dababneh) - Chapter 800, Statutes of 2017)

The bill prohibits a member of the Legislature, who resigned from office, from lobbying the Legislature beginning with the effective date of the resignation to one year after the Legislature adjourns sine die. 

Other Changes

Behested Payments Definition Clarification (AB 867 (Cooley) - Chapter 749, Statutes of 2017)

This bill does not make any substantive public policy changes to requirements of behested payments. The intent of the bill is to make technical and clarifying changes only. The bill creates a standalone definition of "Behested Payments," "election-related activities," and "made at the behest of." Prior to this bill, these definitions were located within the definition of "contribution." 

Mass Mailing at Public Expense 60-Day Prohibition (SB 45 (Mendoza) - Chapter 827, Statutes of 2017)

Under current law, mass mailings at public expense on generally prohibited under certain circumstances under FPPC regulations. This bill codifies the Commission's Regulation 18901. The regulation had permitted certain types of mass mailings at public expense as long as those communications met certain requirements. This bill prohibits three types of mass mailings if they are sent 60 days preceding an election by or on behalf of a candidate on the ballot at that election. 

Links to Local Government Campaign Finance Information (SB 358 (Stern) - Chapter 624, Statutes of 2017)

This bill requires the Secretary of State to create a website that contains hyperlinks to any local government agency website that contains publically-disclosed campaign finance information.