Thanks to House amendment, Senate Bill 69 now would set the deadline for filing nominating petitions as the third Tuesday in March. That’s one or two weeks (depending on the year) earlier than the current deadline of last Tuesday in March, but it’s three weeks later than the Board of Elections’ original proposal to cut off petition submission on the last Tuesday of February. SB 69 still move the petition start date a full month earlier, to December 1. While we still have less time to recruit candidates, legislators are offering us more time to circulate, including a vital week or two after the end of the session. Yay.
But legislators have approved another deadline on that third Tuesday of March. Remember Senate Bill 67, which was meant to help citizens file timely court challenges to suspect petitions? SB 67 and SB 69 were supposed to work together to create a definite two-week window for filing court challenges. House State Affairs remembered that when it moved both deadlines back a week. The House forgot:
|Petition Deadline||Court Challenge Deadline|
|original proposal||last Tuesday in February||second Tuesday in March|
|03/06/15||first Tuesday in March||third Tuesday in March|
|03/10/15||third Tuesday in March||third Tuesday in March|
Senate Bill 69 now sets the deadline for filing petitions on the same day as the deadline for filing court challenges thereagainst… meaning that it would be impossible for concerned citizens to take the majority of petitioners to court.
To paraphrase Rep. Mickelson, this is what happens when you try to change a bill on the House floor on the last day for passing bills from the second chamber. Rewrite!