Last week, the House of Representatives passed an 800-page bill that directly attacks your freedom of speech, and soon it will be voted on in the Senate.
The “For the People Act,” also known as H.R. 1, is anything but. This sweeping bill would overhaul the current election system by implementing a plethora of heavy-handed “reforms” from the federal government, including universal mail-in balloting, a ban on state voter ID requirements, permitted ballot harvesting, and many other controversial measures. But most concerning to us here at HSLDA is how it would affect your freedom of speech.
As homeschool advocates, we understand the importance of freedom: freedom of education, freedom of association, freedom to support the causes you care deeply about. If passed, H.R. 1 will severely limit our ability to protect those freedoms. It will place onerous, unnecessary regulations on nonprofit organizations that will negatively affect the work we do and the donors who support us.
Regulates Legislative Content
H.R. 1 would redefine any public communications on policy matters as “electioneering.” Organizations would be required to file a report to the Federal Election Commission disclosing if they support or oppose a politician they mention, even if that mention does not express either support or opposition to that person. For example, every time we write an article about a bill that would harm homeschooling and mention which legislators support or oppose the policy, we’d have to send a report to the FEC.
H.R. 1 also creates a new category of speech: communications that “promote,” “attack,” “support,” or “oppose” (“PASO”) federal candidates and elected officials. Under this broad and vague standard, groups that merely speak about federal legislation or policy issues could be forced to file FEC reports that they didn’t have to file before.
Rather than providing political transparency, these provisions will serve to stifle free speech and limit an organization’s ability to communicate their values. Most non-profits don’t have the legal resources to report on every single communication they put out that’s related to policy or legislative matters. This will prohibit many organizations from communicating about important policy issues to their members.
Threatens Donor Anonymity
H.R. 1 would dramatically increase donor-disclosure requirements, severely limiting the ability of nonprofit organizations and the individuals who support them to engage in public debate on important issues.
It mandates the disclosure of the names and addresses of donors giving more than $10,000 to groups that engage in “campaign-related disbursements.” It also requires that organizations name their top five donors in every disclaimer—a disclaimer that they will be required on all policy-related communications. As toxic as our political environment is today, this could lead to donors being harassed simply for financially supporting organizations they agree with.
Clearly, this bill is not “for the people.” It violates free speech, limits freedom of association, and hampers the ability of organizations like ours to do the work that we do.Please contact your senators today and ask them to protect free speech and oppose this bill. You can do this easily through our Legislative Action Center.