TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — If a bill proposed in the Florida Legislature becomes law, those making political donations to fight constitutional amendments would have limits on donations erased, as long as they live in Florida. Residents are still barred from giving more than $3,000 for political candidates, if making the contribution as an individual.
House Bill 921 is focused entirely on removing campaign limitations when pushing back against constitutional amendments in Florida. It is a committee substitute and House companion bill to Senate Bill 1352, which also sought to ban foreign political contributions in Florida.
The Florida Legislature reported the Senate bill was laid on the table and substituted for the House version on March 3.
While the bill removes the limit on spending for campaigning against amendments, it requires that the contributions be channeled through a political committee based in Florida. Otherwise, spending limits still remain in effect for candidates and other campaign items.
According to HB 921’s text, “Except for political parties or affiliated party committees, no person or political committee may, in any election, make contributions” more than $3,000. The limit applies to candidates for statewide office and to individual making contributions to “a political committee that is the sponsor of a constitutional amendment proposed by initiative.”
The bill goes further though, to amend the current statutes by applying the limit “only to persons who are not residents of the state and to political committees that have not registered an office” with a Florida street address. HB 921 also bans foreign nationals from providing campaign contributions.
It defines foreign nationals as “foreign governments, foreign political parties, foreign corporations, partnerships, associations, organizations” or some combination of the other entities, with a “principal place of business in a foreign country.” This includes those with foreign citizenship, someone who is not a citizen or national of the United States, is not legally in the U.S. or a permanent U.S. resident.
Similar to its companion bill proposed to ban foreign campaign contributions more generally, HB 921 also includes a provision that domestic subsidiaries of foreign companies can make donations if their contributions are “derived entirely from funds generated by the subsidiary’s operations in the United States” and the decision to make those donations were made by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
Both SB 1352, the Senate version, and HB 921 do not define an explicit method or mechanism of checking the source of a decision to donate campaign contributions from foreign companies and their U.S.-based subsidiaries.
HB 921 has been substituted by committee twice. Now, it’s on its third reading in the Florida Senate and has already pass the Florida House of Representatives. If it makes it through its final reading and a floor vote, the bill will head to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign into law, or veto. If it becomes law, the bill takes effect on July 1.