Election Accountability / Public Financing

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Policy and Legislation Counsel, Nicolas Heidorn, at NHeidorn@commoncause.org or (916) 520-4070.

California Common Cause Sponsored Bills

  • SB 254 (Allen) – Citizens United Referendum:  Placed on the ballot as Prop 59, which was passed by voters. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United -- allowing special interests to spend unlimited sums in campaign independent expenditures -- was a disastrous decision for American democracy that has allowed special interest money to distort our elections. This bill puts a ballot measure before the voters in November asking them if they wish to instruct their elected officials to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn this and similar decisions. Common Cause is a sponsor of this bill. This bill passed and will be appearing on the November 2016 ballot for voter consideration.

  • SB 1107 (Allen) – Removes Absolute Public Financing Ban: SIGNED INTO LAW Under current law, the state and local governments are prohibited from establishing citizen-funded campaign financing systems. The only exception is for charter cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, who have adopted small donor matching funds programs. This bill would amend the ban on public financing to enable the state and local governments to innovate with public financing systems that reduce the influence of special interests in elections. Common Cause is a sponsor of this bill. 
Letter of Support from the City of Oakland.

  • SB 1349 (Hertzberg) – Modernizes CalAccess: SIGNED INTO LAW CalAccess is the state’s database for tracking and displaying campaign contributions and expenditures and lobbying reports. The system is nearly 20 years old, frequently breaks down, and is not filer or user-friendly. This bill would direct the Secretary of State to develop a new CalAccess that does a better job of collecting and displaying this important information. Common Cause is a sponsor of this bill.

  • SB 1108 (Allen) – Authorizes Local Redistricting Commissions: SIGNED INTO LAW The State Independent Redistricting Commission has been widely praised as producing a fairer, more representative, and less politicized redistricting process than in previous decades where the legislature drew its own lines. This bill authorizes local governments to establish their own independent redistricting commissions. Common Cause is a sponsor of this bill.

Common Cause Supported Bills

  • SB 450 (Allen) – Vote Centers: SIGNED INTO LAW This bill would authorize counties to adopt the “Colorado model” of elections, which makes voting more accessible and is associated with increases in voter turnout. Under this model, every voter would be given a vote by mail ballot. They could either cast their ballot by mail, return it at any ballot drop-off locations, or vote at any vote center in the county which would be open for 10 days prior to the election.

  • AB 2455 (Chiu) – Student Voter Registration: SIGNED INTO LAW This bill would require that Community College and California State University students be given the option to register to vote online as the enroll in college.

  • AB 2466 (Weber) – Voting Rights of Incarcerated Persons: SIGNED INTO LAW This bill would codify the holding in a recent court case that the voting rights of felons who are released to county supervision are restored.

Bills that died in the Legislature or were Vetoed by the Governor


AB 700 (Gomez / Levine) – The Disclose Act: This bill would require the top three major funders of any political independent expenditure to be identified on the advertisement. The bill also improves how political advertisement disclosures are displayed to improve readability.

  • SB 1288 (Leno)Authorizes Use of Majority-Winner Voting Systems at the Local Level: Under current law, general law cities must use “first-past-the-post” voting, which means the candidate who receives the most votes is elected even if they receive far less than majority support. Under this system, whenever there are multiple candidates, it is possible through vote-splitting for the winning candidate to have only a small fraction of popular support and even to be the overall most disliked candidate in the election. This bill would give local governments the option of using two majority-winner voting systems: the traditional runoff or ranked choice voting. Common Cause was a sponsor of this bill. This bill was VETOED by the Governor.

  • AB 2523 (Mullin) – Local Campaign Contribution Limits: Under current law, there are no campaign contribution limits on candidates running for local office – unless a local government has adopted its own limits, a person could give any amount to a candidate or office. Allowing unlimited campaign contributions gives disproportionate influence to the wealthy and special interests. This bill would apply the contribution limits on candidates running for state legislative office to candidates running for local office, unless that jurisdiction has adopted its own limits. Common Cause is the source of this bill.

  • SB 816 (Hill) – Board of Equalization Recusal: The Board of Equalization, responsible for adjudicating tax disputes, is the only elected Tax Board in the nation. This bill would require BoE members to recuse themselves from adjudicating the disputes of any person who contributes more than $100 to the member’s campaign.

  • AB 1200 (Gordon) – Procurement Lobbying: Every year, the state contracts with private parties for billions of dollars worth of goods and services. This bill would require people who lobby agencies to secure such government contracts to register as lobbyists, which would require them to comply with various ethics and reporting rules. This bill was VETOED by the Governor.

  • AB 1828 (Dodd) – Board of Equalization Recusal: The Board of Equalization, responsible for adjudicating tax disputes, is the only elected Tax Board in the nation. This bill would require BoE members to recuse.

  • SB 946 (Leyva) – Eliminate School Funding Penalty for Student Poll Workers: Current law allows students to serve as poll workers; however, if students absent themselves to work at the polls, it counts against a school’s Average Daily Attendance funding formula. This bill would eliminate that penalty to encourage student civic participation at the polls. This bill was held (died) in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  • SB 976 (Vidak) – Extends Revolving Door Ban: Under current law, elected officials are prohibited from lobbying the legislature for one year after leaving office. Unfortunately, many legislators leave office early to run down the clock faster so they can take a lucrative position with special interest groups. This bill would extend the revolving door ban to two years for elected officials who leave office early to discourage this practice. This bill was held (died) in the Senate Rules Committee.

  • SB 1467 (Bates) – Prevents Candidate-Controlled Ballot Measure Electioneering: This bill would end this practice by prohibiting candidate-controlled ballot measure committees from promoting any elected officials in their advertisements. This bill was held (died) in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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