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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.
Georgia Updates Lobbying Law
Zachary H. Hoying,
On March 15, 2011, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 232. House Bill 232 was passed in response to the release of Advisory Opinion 2011-1 by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission on March 7, 2011, which required persons who are officers or employees of a business entity who meet with public officials and express opinions on potential or actual legislation that may impact the business entity to register as lobbyists. However, the opinion’s impact was nullified by the inclusion of a retroactive effective date of January 10, 2011 upon the passage of House Bill 232.
House Bill 232 redefines the term lobbyist to require a person to be compensated specifically for lobbying activities before being required to register and report as a lobbyist. In addition, a person will now only be deemed a lobbyist if more than 10 percent of his or her working hours are spent engaged in lobbying activities. Also included in the bill is a "lookback" period for each calendar month. The lookback provision requires lobbyist registration and an initial disclosure report to be filed within five days if, at the end of any month, a person has met the 10 percent test. This initial disclosure report must include all prior lobbying expenditures in the calendar year.
The provisions of House Bill 232 have also altered the amounts of total expenditures triggering lobbyist registration. For state level, state transportation board, and local level lobbyists, the expenditure trigger of $250 has been altered to require a total expenditure of more than $1,000 in a calendar year. If the expenditure threshold is met, registration is required regardless of whether the 10 percent time threshold is met. Further, all lobbyists now have a grace period of three business days in filing all required disclosure reports. Finally, persons who are employed as bona fide salespersons are now exempt from regulation as a vendor lobbyist.
Summary of Changes UPDATE
MISSOURI: Cole County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Green ruled that Senate Bill 844, which became effective August 28, 2010, is unconstitutional because it covers multiple subjects. The Missouri constitution requires that bills contain only one subject. The bill sharply restricted transfers between campaign committees, boosted the enforcement powers of the Missouri Ethics Commission, and created measures aimed at reducing situations in which candidates channeled money through several committees to obscure their source. The court found that the procurement measures in the bill were the “original controlling purpose” and thus should be upheld while all other measures relating to campaign finance are void.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Senate Bill 39 has been signed by Governor Daugaard and will take effect July 1, 2011. This law will allow corporations to make contributions to political action committees, contributions previously banned by state campaign finance law. Under this bill, however, corporate contributions to candidates, candidate committees, or political parties are still prohibited.
PROVIDENCE, RI and TALLAHASSEE, FL: Two cities have passed new lobbying laws. Providence’s Lobbyist Disclosure Ordinance requires registration before the first lobbying activity. There is a $250 filing fee for lobbyists employed by entities with budgets over $250,000. Otherwise, the filing fee is $25. Lobbyists and employers will be required to file quarterly reports, and a final report in January detailing all expenses and compensation for the previous calendar year. Penalties include fines up to $250 a day, up to a maximum of $25,000 per calendar year, and a prohibition of lobbying the city until the following year or until compliance is established. The ordinance takes effect May 20, 2011. On April 1, 2011, Tallahassee lobbyists were required to register with the city treasurer-clerk prior to engaging in any lobbying. Lobbyists are required to pay a fee of $25 for each principal represented. Additionally, each lobbying firm may register in the name of the firm, corporation, or legal entity provided the registration lists the names of all persons who engage in lobbying for the firm. Further, each lobbying firm will be required to file a quarterly compensation report during each calendar quarter during any portion of which the lobbyist or lobbying firm was registered to represent a principal.
PATERSON, NJ: The city of Paterson has implemented a new pay-to-play ordinance which enhances the rules concerning contribution limits for entities doing business with the city. Ordinance 11-006 includes an absolute ban on contributions between the time of first communication regarding a specific agreement and the termination of negotiations, the rejection of a proposal, or the completion of a contract. The ordinance also outlines specific contribution limits: in the 12 months prior to a contract, to mayoral and governing body candidates and their committees, joint candidate committees, Passiac County political committees, and PACs. In order to receive financial aid from the state, the City of Paterson’s passage of the legislation was required by an earlier agreement with the New Jersey Transitional Aid to Localities program, the state’s financial aid program for local municipalities and counties.
LOS ANGELES, CA: Voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the city charter placing serious restrictions on the ability of those doing business or seeking to do business with the city to make campaign contributions. The pay-to-play rule, which passed with a vote of 75 percent in favor, will prohibit anyone bidding on a contract with Los Angeles worth $100,000 or more from donating to or fundraising for city officials with the authority to approve the contract on which he or she is bidding.
State and Federal Communications Expands Coverage
In a continuing effort to better serve the needs of its clients, State and Federal Communications, Inc. is expanding coverage of laws and regulations for political contributions, lobbying, and procurement lobbying to more municipalities, regional governments, and governmental organizations.
We have added six new jurisdictions for which our online clients will find comprehensive, timely, and accurate information that includes: complete calendar of reporting deadlines; critical statutory citations; extensive directories of contact information; summaries of each state law; detailed reference charts on goods and services contributions; highlights of every statute; copies of all required forms; and much more.
The new jurisdictions are:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. (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.
I am a registered lobbyist. Can a company executive and/or expert accompany me to meetings with public officials without needing to register?
In most instances, individuals are not “insulated” from registration by engaging in lobbying activities in the presence of a registered lobbyist. California is an example of an exception to this rule. In California, an individual does not engage in direct communication when he meets or speaks with a qualifying official in the company of a registered lobbyist retained by the individual’s employer, or by a bona fide trade association or membership organization of which the individual’s employer is a member.
The answer will to depend on the jurisdiction’s registration thresholds. Often times, executives and experts will not have to register because their involvement will not meet the compensation, time, or expenditure threshold in the given jurisdiction. For example, in Connecticut, the expert would have to receive $2,000 in compensation in a calendar year before having to register. A one-time meeting with public officials would probably not exceed this threshold. Likewise, in Massachusetts, there is a statutory presumption that an individual is not a lobbyist if he spends 25 hours or less and receives less than $2,500 for lobbying efforts during any semi-annual reporting period.
The context and content of the conversation are also important in determining whether registration is required. If the executive and/or expert are merely providing testimony at a public hearing, most often this will not be considered lobbying and he will not be required to register. In some cases, as in Arizona, there are exceptions for individuals providing technical information to public officials.
It is always important to remember the “title” of the person is not relevant in determining whether he or she needs to register as a lobbyist in any given jurisdiction.
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