…create new barriers to entry in the political process for political novices and challengers who wish to promote their political speech online while doing little to stop Internet trolls (people or groups who sow discord through divisive online messages) and dark money groups. The bill also imposes restrictions on speech on a form of communication that is fundamentally different than more one-way channels of communication such as TV or radio.
Despite those problems, it the bill was scheduled to get to a vote in the NC House Elections and Ethics committee on July 10 until it was pulled from consideration at the last minute (announced at 5:00 PM on July 9). Although it appears that the bill is dead for this session, we are going to be watching for any attempts to revive it.
Considering the problems with H 700, it is reasonable to wonder how it got as far as it did. The main reason is that it was the product of a concerted effort led by a group called North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections (NCVCE). The group’s lobbyist, Melissa Kromm, has been diligently working the General Assembly in support of the bill. A sign of her strong relationship with H 700 is the fact that, if you want to read the latest version of the bill, you cannot find it on the official General Assembly page (dated April 11, 2019); you have to look for it on Kromm’s blog page (dated July 2, 2019) instead.
Kromm’s page indicates that the NCVCE and their allies plan to keep pushing this bad bill, so we can expect more fights over online political speech soon.