ALABAMA (AP) Alabama is taking its first steps toward cracking down on illegal fundraising and donations to political candidates and groups.
Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed a bill that requires registered charitable organizations to disclose donors and campaign spending and to file annual reports detailing the amounts they spend.
The law also requires the secretary of state to register charitable organizations, which are eligible for up to $50,000 in state aid, and provide quarterly reports to the state.
The law goes into effect Oct. 1, 2017.
It was approved unanimously by the state House of Representatives, which was led by Republican Rep. Tim Miller of Birmingham.
Miller said the new law is needed because “there are thousands of charities in Alabama that are operating without a license, and some are operating for illegal activity.
We want to be vigilant, but also make sure that the law is followed.”
It was the third time a Republican governor has signed a law on illegal charities, and the first time in the last decade.
In a statement, Miller said: “This is a critical time in our state and our country, as we fight the opioid epidemic and are working to protect our families from the harms of the drug trade.
The continued misuse of these drugs is destroying our families and communities, and we must ensure that all families have the safety, stability and economic security that come with having an employer, business or community.”
The law, approved by the Alabama State Senate and signed by Ivey in her office, requires charities that receive state funds to register with the state and provide annual reports to state regulators and the public.
The nonprofit group must also disclose any political contributions, including direct contributions, but not contributions from outside groups.
It also must register with a federal database.
The groups must also report spending on elections and other activities related to elections.
The organizations must register to raise money for political candidates.
Agency chief counsel Matthew Brown said the law does not go far enough because charities do not have to report donations or spending.
He said the registration requirement will not eliminate the problem, but it will allow agencies to better detect illegal activities.
“If the IRS is seeing money coming into this state, it is the IRS that is doing the reporting,” Brown said.
“If the state wants to make sure it is doing this right, it needs to register.”
The federal database is not available yet, but there are a lot of nonprofits that are registering, Brown said, but they do not need to.
The registration requirement does not apply to the groups that operate out of Alabama, but the Alabama attorney general’s office said it is working on a similar law.
The Alabama Campaign Finance Act is a state-by-state initiative to regulate the use of charity and other nonprofits to raise funds for political campaigns and political parties.
The measure was created in 2010 and is designed to prevent the misuse of charity for political purposes.
Brown said the legislation was passed in the wake of the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and a number of other controversial issues, including the issue of the legal status of gay marriage.
The federal statute will only be implemented in Alabama if it is passed by the legislature.
The bill is scheduled for a vote on Thursday.