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'In Everyone's Best Interests': New Hampshire 20th State to Call for Constitutional Amendment Limiting Political Spending

"For years, Granite Staters have been working together across party lines, trying to get a constitutional amendment to renew the promise of equal citizenship and effective self-governance. The unflagging work of so many citizens has paid off."

More and more states are agreeing: political spending is a problem.

More and more states are agreeing: political spending is a problem. (Photo: Shutterstock)

New Hampshire on Thursday became the 20th state in the U.S. to call for a constitutional amendment to allow limits on political spending.

The state Senate passed the measure in a 14 to 10 vote, following the lead of the state House, which approved the resolution on March 7. 

The resolution, which aims to roll back the infamous Citizens United 2010 Supreme Court case that largely erased any limit on campaign spending, allows for legislators at the state and federal level to "regulate the role of money in elections and governance to ensure transparency, prevent corruption, and protect against the buying of access to or influence over representatives."

"No such regulation shall be deemed in violation of freedom of speech rights in the Constitution of the United States or its Amendments," the bill reads. 

New Hampshire joins 19 other states and 803 localities in passing a resolution calling for restrictions in political spending—the total amount representing 46 percent of Americans, 141 million people, according to advocacy group United for the People. 

Jeff Clements, the president of the anti-corruption advocacy group American Promise, said in a statement that Thursday's vote represented years of hard work. 

"For years, Granite Staters have been working together across party lines, trying to get a constitutional amendment to renew the promise of equal citizenship and effective self-governance," Clements said. "The unflagging work of so many citizens has paid off."

Olivia Zink, executive director for Open Democracy NH, said that she was delighted to see the resolution pass. 

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"I am elated, that my state, New Hampshire, becomes the 20th state to call for constitutional amendment to address the role of money in our elections," said Zink. 

Advocacy groups acknowledged there's still work to be done.

In a statement, People for the American Way executive vice president Marge Baker praised New Hampshire activists for their efforts to pass the bill.

"We applaud the thousands of activists, organizers, and other citizens who fought for years in New Hampshire for the idea that our democracy belongs to all of us, not just corporations and the very wealthy," said Baker. "Misguided Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United let wealthy special interests set the political agenda at the expense of ordinary Americans, but activists nationwide are fighting back with measures like H.B. 504."

Baker added she hoped the New Hampshire resolution would be a rallying cry for other state and federal lawmakers.

"We hope that others will be as encouraged as we are by what organizers and policymakers have accomplished today in New Hampshire and use this moment to redouble our efforts to take back our democracy and to pass the Democracy For All amendment," she said.

John Pudner, the executive director of Take Back Our Republic, said that the bipartisan approval for the amendment that his group sees across the country and in New Hampshire is a hopeful sign.

"A constitutional amendment is [in] everyone's best interests," said Pudner. "It's good for voters, it's good for candidates, and it's good for elected officials who want to be able to focus on their constituents rather than Big Money donors."

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