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HOUSE BILL NO. 521
INTRODUCED BY S. VICK
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT REQUIRING THAT A CORPORATION, A LABOR OR PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION, OR AN EMPLOYER OBTAIN WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION PRIOR TO WITHHOLDING AN EMPLOYEE'S OR MEMBER'S WAGES, SALARY, OR DUES FOR USE IN POLITICAL ACTIVITIES; PROVIDING AN EXEMPTION FOR ELECTRONIC WITHHOLDING INITIATED BY THE EMPLOYEE OR MEMBER; REQUIRING VERIFICATION OF WITHHOLDING UPON REQUEST OF THE COMMISSIONER OR POLITICAL PRACTICES; AUTHORIZING A CITIZEN'S ACTION FOR VIOLATION; AND AMENDING SECTION 13-37-128, MCA."
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Withholding of wages, salary, or dues for political activity -- prior authorization required -- exemption -- verification. (1) Except as provided in subsection (4), prior to withholding or diverting a portion of an employee's or member's wages, salary, or dues for political activity, a corporation, a labor or professional organization, or an employer shall annually obtain voluntary written authorization from the employee or member on a form prescribed solely for the purposes of this section by the commissioner of political practices and provided upon request to each employee or member by the corporation, labor or professional organization, or employer.
(2) The form prescribed by the commissioner of political practices, which may be made available to a corporation, a labor or professional organization, or an employer electronically, must include the total amount withheld from wages, salary, or dues and a statement above the signature line informing the employee:
(a) of the authorization required in subsection (1); and
(b) that the employee may refuse to authorize withholding without fear of reprisal or discrimination.
(3) The authorization required under this section is valid for no more than 12 months from the date that the employee signs the form and may be revoked by the employee upon 30 days' notice.
(4) The requirement to annually obtain prior written authorization does not apply to a corporation, labor or professional organization, or employer that provides a procedure by which an employee or member electronically initiates the withholding of wages or salary. Unless the total amount withheld electronically is delineated on the stub of the employee's or member's regular paycheck, electronic authorization is valid for no more than 12 months, and once each year, the corporation, labor or professional organization, or employer shall send a notice informing the employee or member of the need to electronically reauthorize withholding.
(5) Upon request by the commissioner of political practices, the corporation, labor or professional organization, or employer shall provide verification that the employee or member has authorized the withholding of wages or salary.
(6) As used in this section, "political activity" means contributions to a political party, political committee, ballot issue, or candidate. The term does not apply to charitable contributions or commercial transactions and does not include the cost of communication by an organization or corporation to its shareholders, employees, or members as long as the organization or corporation is not a primary political committee.
Section 2. Section 13-37-128, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-37-128. Cause of action created. (1) A person who intentionally or negligently violates any of the reporting provisions of this chapter is liable in a civil action brought by the commissioner or a county attorney pursuant to the provisions outlined in 13-37-124 and 13-37-125 for an amount up to $500 or three times the amount of the unlawful contributions or expenditures, whichever is greater.
(2) A person who makes or receives a contribution or expenditure in violation of 13-35-225, 13-35-227, 13-35-228, or this chapter or a person who ultimately authorizes contributions or expenditures in violation of [section 1] is liable in a civil action brought by the commissioner or a county attorney pursuant to the provisions outlined in 13-37-124 and 13-37-125 for an amount up to $500 or three times the amount of the unlawful contribution or expenditure, whichever is greater.
(3) If the commissioner or a county attorney is notified of an alleged violation under [section 1] but fails to commence an action within 45 days after notification, the commissioner or county attorney shall notify in writing the person reporting the alleged violation of the decision to take no action. Within 10 days after receiving written notification that neither the commissioner nor the county attorney will commence an action, the person reporting the alleged violation may, within 10 days of notification, initiate a citizen's action. If the citizen's action prevails, the judgment escheats to the state but the person must be reimbursed by the state for court costs and attorney fees. If a citizen's action is dismissed and the court determines that the action was brought without reasonable cause, the court may order the person commencing the action to pay court costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred by the defendant."
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Codification instruction. [Section 1] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 13, chapter 35, part 2, and the provisions of Title 13, chapter 35, part 2, apply to [section 1].
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Latest Version of HB 521 (HB0521.01)
Processed for the Web on February 5, 1999 (6:01PM)
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