SJM 8000
As of February 8, 2023
Brief Description: Concerning contributions to election campaigns.
Sponsors: Senators Kuderer, Shewmake, Cleveland, Frame, Lovelett, Nobles, Valdez and Wilson, C..
Brief History:
Committee Activity: State Government & Elections: 2/10/23.
Brief Summary of Bill
  • Requests that Congress pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment giving legislatures the authority to regulate campaign contributions, distinguish between natural and artificial entities, prohibit artificial entities from making campaign contributions, and require timely disclosure of contributions.
  • Requests a constitutional convention for amendments on the same matter if no amendment is sent by November 5, 2026.
Staff: Samuel Brown (786-7470)

Campaign Finance. There are a series of federal laws regulating financing political campaigns and disclosure of campaign contributions. Two primary examples are the Federal Election Campaign Act, enacted in 1971, and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), enacted in 2002.


Federal courts have considered the constitutionality of aspects of these laws on numerous occasions.  While provisions requiring disclosure have been upheld, recent opinions have found provisions limiting amounts individuals or entities may contribute to violate constitutional free speech protections.  In the 2010 case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court struck down a BCRA provision prohibiting the use of corporate or union general treasury funds to pay for independent political advertisements.  That same year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down BCRA's contribution limits to groups making independent expenditures in SpeechNow v. Federal Election Commission. In 2014, the Supreme Court found that a BCRA provision limiting the aggregate amount an individual can contribute to congressional elections during an election cycle violated the First Amendment in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.


Constitutional Amendment Process. Under Article V of the United States Constitution, there are two methods for amending the Constitution:

  • Congress may propose an amendment if approved by a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate; or
  • Congress must call a constitutional convention to propose amendments when requested by two-thirds of state legislatures.


Any amendment proposed under either method must be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures to take effect.


Legislatures in Vermont, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have approved resolutions requesting that Congress call a convention to amend the Constitution in response to the Supreme Court's opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.


Initiative 735.  In 2016, Washington voters passed Initiative 735, which requested that Washington's congressional delegation propose a constitutional amendment providing the following:

  • constitutionally enumerated rights apply only to individual persons;
  • spending money is not free speech protected under the First Amendment, and the government is fully empowered to regulate campaign finance to ensure no person or entity gains undue influence over government and the political process;
  • all political contributions and expenditures must be disclosed before an election in an accessible manner; and
  • the proposed amendment does not limit the people's First Amendment rights.
Summary of Bill:

The Legislature requests that Congress pass and send to the states a proposed constitutional amendment returning to Congress and state legislatures the authority to:

  • regulate the size and timing of campaign contributions and independent expenditures;
  • distinguish between natural persons and artificial entities, including prohibiting artificial entities from making campaign contributions; and
  • require timely disclosure of all campaign contributions.


If Congress does not pass a proposed constitutional amendment containing these provisions by November 5, 2026, the Legislature requests that Congress call a convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution to include these provisions as soon as two-thirds of the states have submitted requests for a constitutional convention on the same subject.  The request is rescinded if the convention is not limited to this specific purpose.  The Legislature urges the legislatures of other states to pass similar resolutions.

Appropriation: None.
Fiscal Note: Not requested.
Creates Committee/Commission/Task Force that includes Legislative members: No.
Effective Date: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.