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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

 November 2011


  Professional Development


It is time to consider your professional development opportunities. And, during this time of the year there are a lot of options.

My #1 conference of choice is State Government Affairs Council Leaders Policy Conference. I first attended this in 2001 at the Wigwam in Scottsdale and I was hooked. I first met CSG’s Executive Director, David Adkins there and Stan Tretiak, then with Coors, was the conference chairperson and had the CEO of Coors address the group.

You could say I loved it so much, I not only joined the association; I ran for the board, and am now the president!

This year, David Christman, from the National Beer Wholesalers Association, is the conference chairperson. The program is outstanding. Speakers include:

  1. Craig Karges—Nationally recognized speaker and author;

  2. Margaret Anderson Kelliher—President and CEO of Minnesota High Tech Association;

  3. Kevin McCarty—Florida Insurance Commissioner;

  4. William Symonds—Director, Pathways to Prosperity Project,
    Harvard Graduate School;

  5. Michael Sargeant—Executive Director of the DLCC;

  6. Matt Walter—Political Director of RSLC;

  7. Dana Perino—Political Commentator, and Former White House Press Secretary; and

  8. Cincinnati’s own Johnny Bench—Baseball Legend.

In addition to this great cast of speakers are the exceptional legislators in the audience. SGAC invites the top six (6) legislators from every state. This gives everyone the opportunity to speak with state leaders and develop the important working relationships you will need in 2012. I don’t know where to start, but some of them include:

  1. Kansas Senate President Stephen Morris;

  2. Maryland Senate President Mike Miller;

  3. Georgia Senator Don Balfour;

  4. Ohio Representative Ted Celeste;

  5. Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus; and

  6. Massachusetts Senator Richard Moore.

There is still space available for you at SGAC’s LPC. You can obtain all the needed information at www.sgac.org.

Until next month, take the time to hone your skills, sharpen the saw, and awaken the giant within—okay, too much Covey and Robbins! The point is to stay on top of your game and be the best for your organization.

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO


New Jersey’s Pay-to-Play Laws Under Fire

by George Ticoras, Esq.
Research
Associate

 

New Jersey’s complicated and problematic pay-to-play laws and local ordinances have recently come under attack by lawmakers and government officials.

Governor Chris Christie, State Comptroller A. Matthew Boxer, Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, and Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) Executive Director Jeff Brindle are all calling for a simpler pay-to-play system, tighter contracting rules, and more complete disclosure of contractor contributions.

Comptroller Boxer issued a report finding the state’s pay-to-play laws contain “a series of fatal flaws [that] have essentially rendered New Jersey’s Pay-to-Play law meaningless.” The comptroller’s report suggests several changes, such as eliminating the fair-and-open exception which has different regulatory systems at the state and local levels, strengthening fair-and-open guidelines to require more competitive contracting, and reforming New Jersey’s contract laws to allow a more competitive vendor-selection process.

Drawing on earlier recommendations from ELEC, Director Brindle also made calls for changes, including for one state pay-to-play law to apply "across the board" for all jurisdictions. Additionally, ELEC proposes that any public contractor receiving a contract over $17,500 file an annual report with the agency, listing the contractor’s contributions and public contracts. The current disclosure threshold is $50,000. Director Brindle also stated the contribution limits for contractors should be raised to help address fundraising concerns and not discourage participation in the political process.

Governor Christie stated, “New Jersey’s ethics laws remain a patchwork of ineffective half measures and loopholes that fail to apply a uniform standard of rules of conduct for all levels of government in our state.” The governor has pushed pay-to-play reform in New Jersey by linking financial Transitional Aid to municipalities with the requirement the municipalities adopt local pay-to-play ordinances.

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin meanwhile has renewed her calls to pass Assembly Bills 520, 521, and 527, saying, "Establishing a uniform set of criteria that applies to all levels of government when a contract is awarded will end the charade of the 'fair and open contract' exceptions for businesses that take advantage of existing loopholes.”


Legislation We Are Tracking

At any given time, more than 1,000 legislative bills, which can affect how you do business as a government affairs professional, are being discussed in federal, state, and local jurisdictions. These bills are summarized in the State and Federal Communications’ digital encyclopedias for lobbying laws, political contributions, and procurement lobbying, and can be found in the client portion of the State and Federal Communications' website.

Summaries of major bills are also included in monthly e-mail updates sent to all clients. The chart below shows the number of bills we are tracking in regards to lobbying laws, political contributions, and procurement lobbying.

  Total bills Number of Jurisdictions Passed Died Carried over
to 2012
Lobbying Laws 204 47 30 83 43
Political Contributions 382 50 48 133 77
Procurement Lobbying 181 40 19 73 20

 


Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations

by John Cozine, Esq.
Research Manager
 

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: The Philadelphia Board of Ethics has approved proposed regulations that define lobbying activity and describe how lobbyists must register and report expenditures. A previous board decision to provide a 30-day grace period would not require lobbyist registration until November. Additionally, registration can begin only when the board has an online registration system in place. Shane Creamer, executive director of the board, stated he hoped the online registration system would be ready in November.

WISCONSIN: Federal District Court Judge Rudolph Randa has ruled Wisconsin statutes §11.23 and §11.30 are unconstitutional as applied against Charles Hatchett, an individual who sent postcards and posted flyers urging his fellow residents to vote against a referendum. The laws require anyone who spends $25 to influence a referendum to register, disclose names of donors, and include disclaimers saying who paid for materials. The court permanently enjoined the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board from enforcing the statutes and requiring Hatchett to register and include a disclaimer on postcards and flyers. The State of Wisconsin is currently considering appealing the ruling.

FEDERAL: The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has issued proposed lobbyist gift ban rules, which would apply to all executive branch employees. Most of the proposed rules deal with limiting, for lobbyists, the exceptions of the ban on gifts. For example, executive branch employees would not be permitted to accept invitations extended by lobbyists for free attendance at widely attended gatherings that would normally fall under the gift ban exception. Non-profit professional associations, scientific organizations, and learned societies, which are also sometimes registered lobbyists, would still be afforded the exception. The OGE based much of its reasoning on the notion “the cultivation of familiarity and access that a lobbyist [gains]” may be used in the future by lobbyists to obtain a more sympathetic hearing for clients. Another change would preclude lobbyists from the gift ban exception of social invitations, such as invitations to cocktail parties and movie screenings, if the invitations were extended because of the employee’s official position, even if the lobbyist is not a prohibited source. The OGE argues in its proposal that “the lobbyist could use social events as a way to build general good will with a class of employees in case access is needed for a future issue or client.” The proposed rules arise because an earlier Presidential Executive Order regarding gifts to non-career political appointees, which had called for the OGE to apply the lobbyist gift ban set forth in the order to all executive branch employees.

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Concord City Council approved two ethics measures. One measure limits gifts to the mayor and councilors to $50 or less. Another measure creates an ethics board to enforce the newly created gift limits. The measures were somewhat controversial because many thought the gift restrictions were not strict enough.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK:  On September 8, 2011, the New York City Campaign Finance Board issued proposed new rules requiring the reporting of certain independent expenditures. The proposed reporting rules would cover expenditures that are for the design, production, or distribution of public communications, that are either express advocacy made at any time in an election cycle or an electioneering communication made within 90 days of an election, and that, when combined with all other expenditures made by the independent spender in support of or in opposition to that candidate or proposal, exceed $1,000. Generally, in non-election years reports would be due semi-annually and in election years eight reports would be required, with expenditures required to be reported within 24 hours during the two weeks before the election.  


ASK THE EXPERTS

State and Federal Communications’ Experts Answer Your Questions

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc. You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com. (Of course, we have always been available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

Q. 

I am a registered lobbyist who would like to host a state legislator at a college football

game.  Are there specific restrictions to this type of gift?

 

A.

The most common gift restrictions are those relating to food and beverage.  Providing tickets

or admission to a football game is a different type of gift, referred to as entertainment or hospitality. 

Some jurisdictions do not restrict providing entertainment at all.  Pennsylvania does not restrict a lobbyist providing hospitality to an official.  However, Pennsylvania does require the lobbyist’s principal to report the gift of hospitality, even itemizing it if the aggregate of all gifts to the official are more than $650 in a calendar year. 

Other jurisdictions allow a lobbyist to provide entertainment up to a certain amount.  In Texas, a lobbyist may provide expenditures for entertainment of $500 or less in a calendar year.  Ohio permits a lesser amount.  Lobbyists may provide Ohio officials gifts worth an aggregate annual value of $75 or less.  Like Pennsylvania, both Texas and Ohio require the gift to be reported.

Louisiana specifically prohibits providing tickets to sporting events except for a very narrow exception.  Other jurisdictions do not specifically mention entertainment or hospitality, but generally restrict these gifts to officials.  Though a big football state, Wisconsin generally prohibits all gifts to officials. 

The question reinforces the idea that a lobbyist must understand all of a jurisdiction’s gift restrictions, not just those that pertain to food and beverage.  When considering any dollar value limitation on entertainment or hospitality, be sure to consider the proper method to value the gift in that jurisdiction.  For example, the cost of a football ticket for ethics purposes could be its face value or its fair market value.


Wealth of Information at www.lobbycomply.com

Want to interact with your fellow government affairs and procurement colleagues? Then jump into the State and Federal Communications, Inc. blog at www.lobbycomply.com.

Once there, you can join the exchange of ideas and view solutions to common challenges and problems. Also, State and Federal Communications continually adds content to the blog, including ‘hot topics,’ which are summaries of important news items you need to know.

Join the conversation, and make use of this valuable information resource.

 


State and Federal Scrapbook

Elizabeth Bartz with fellow Kent State alum, Stephanie Danes
Smith.  Stephanie was at Kent State University to receive the
Taylor Award from the School of Journalism and
Mass Communications.
Nola Werren with former State and Federal Research Associate,
Rob Mullen, now general counsel at Aultman Hospital.
Senator Alan Simpson [WY] stealing a kiss from
Sunovion's Katrina Iserman.
Elizabeth Bartz at Harley Davidson Museum on an Inter-City visit in Milwaukee with Akron executives.  She can mark "sitting on a Harley" off her bucket list.
Ever wonder what Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig,
had as a front office carpet?
MLB Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig with his
new friend, Elizabeth Bartz!
This year, our United Way Campaign had State and Federal Communications, Inc. employees split in two teams - the STARs and
the STRIPEs.  Here Elizabeth Z. Bartz sits with the winning stripes team while they choose gift card prizes from the grab bag.
[Seated:  Sarah Kovit, Dave McPeek [team leader], and Elizabeth.  Standing- l to r - Jim Sedor, Susan Stofka, Nate Shaker,
James Warner, Megan Huber, Becky Campbell, Val Blake, Sarah Gray, and George Ticoras.]

See Us in Person

Plan to say hello at future events where State and Federal Communications will be attending and/or speaking regarding compliance issues.

November 8, 2011 Election Day
United States
November 9, 2011 WASRG Summit
Washington, D.C.
November 16, 2011 American League of Lobbyists Annual Meeting
Washington, D.C.
November 19-22, 2011 2011 SGAC Foundation Leaders' Policy Conference
Miami, Florida
November 29-December 2, 2011 NCSL 2011 Fall Forum
Tampa, Florida
December 4-7, 2011 Council on Governmental Ethics Laws
Nashville, Tennessee

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to make sure that your organization can say, "I Comply."

We are the leading authority and exclusive information source
on legislation and regulations surrounding campaign finance
and political contributions; state, federal, and municipal lobbying; and procurement lobbying.

Contact us to learn how conveniently our services will allow you to say "I Comply" for your compliance activities.

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