Senate Bill No. 22

Introduced By holden

A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act prohibiting a person or political committee from distributing certain campaign literature concerning a candidate unless a copy of the literature is mailed to the candidate; and providing a penalty."

WHEREAS, special interest groups sometimes distribute campaign literature expressing support of or opposition to a candidate in a state or local election; and

WHEREAS, a candidate may be unaware of the distribution of the campaign literature and therefore unable to respond to the literature in a timely fashion; and

WHEREAS, candidates should be able to respond to statements made in campaign literature, particularly statements made in the closing days of a campaign that distort the candidate's voting record or position on an issue of public interest or that are otherwise incorrect; and

WHEREAS, because content discrimination constitutes unlawful censorship under the first amendment of the United States Constitution, the Legislature may not constitutionally distinguish between campaign literature distributed on behalf of a candidate and literature distributed opposing a candidate if notice of distribution is to be required.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:

NEW SECTION. Section 1.  Candidate to receive copy of campaign literature -- definition -- penalty. (1) A person, other than a candidate, or a political committee may not distribute campaign literature regarding a candidate unless the person or political committee mails to the candidate by certified mail a copy of the campaign literature to be distributed. The literature must be mailed by the person or political committee in time to be received by the candidate at least 1 day before the distribution of the campaign literature.

(2) For the purposes of this section, "campaign literature" means a direct mailing, poster, or handbill.

(3) A person or political committee violating the requirements of subsection (1) is guilty of a misdemeanor.

NEW SECTION. Section 2.  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].