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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.
New Chicago Mayor Issues Six Executives Orders
Following through on his campaign promises immediately upon taking office, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wasted no time in getting to work. On May 16, 2011, Mayor Emanuel signed three new executive orders and reissued three additional executive orders.
The first of the three reissued executive orders prohibits those who contract with the city, as well as their spouses or domestic partners, from making political contributions to the mayor or his political fundraising committee during the bid or contract solicitation process. Contracts negotiated in violation of this provision are terminable and subject to rejection. The two additional reissued orders include an order requiring city employees to comply with hiring oversight rules, and an order reaffirming that it is the duty of every city employee to report wrongdoing to the inspector general.
The first new executive order is a revolving door provision which prohibits new appointees from lobbying city government for two years after leaving the administration, bars lower level employees from lobbying the departments or agencies in which they work, and bars appointees to boards and commissions from lobbying the board or commission on which they sit. Failure to adhere to this order may result in a bar from lobbyist registration for up to five years, in addition to the two year bar called for by the order. The second new executive order protects city employees from being pressured to give gifts or make political contributions to their superiors. The third new executive order prohibits city lobbyists from making political contributions to the mayor or his political fundraising committee. Failure to adhere to this provision will bar the lobbyist from being able to register as a lobbyist indefinitely.
Summary of Changes UPDATE
TENNESSEE: Governor Haslam signed Senate Bill 1915 (companion to House Bill 1003) into law. The bill allows corporations to contribute to candidates by removing the previous statutory prohibition. The bill also adjusts contribution limits to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. The new law became effective immediately.
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Mayor Corey A. Booker signed a new pay-to-play ordinance into law, specifically aimed at city redevelopers. The new ordinance bars redevelopers from contracting with the city if a contribution, or pledge of a contribution, exceeding $300 has been made one year prior to the contract. Redeveloper is defined to mean any person or entity entering into a contract with the city, or with another redeveloper, for the rehabilitation of any area in the city. The definition includes those with a 10 percent or greater ownership in the entity, partners, officers, subsidiaries, and spouses and adult children living at home. Any group of individuals from the contracting entity cannot contribute in the aggregate in excess of $3,000. Contribution and disclosure requirements will also be required from lobbyists, professionals, and consultants working for a redeveloper if his or her work relates to the subject contract. A redeveloper who violates the ordinance is barred from future redevelopment agreements for four calendar years. The ordinance took effect June 2.
MARYLAND: Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill which requires corporations to disclose to shareholders the dates and amounts of political independent expenditures and the candidate or ballot issue the expenses are related, or post a link to this information from its homepage. All entities making an aggregate independent expenditure of $10,000 or more in an election cycle will be required to file reports detailing information such as the identities of those making, or those exercising direction or control over those making, the independent expenditures. Included in the report must be the identity of each person who made cumulative donations in excess of $51 to the entity making the independent expenditure. Entities include corporations, partnerships, committees, associations, and labor organizations. The law redefines independent expenditure to expressly advocating the success or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or ballot issue. Separate and distinct from the definition of independent expenditure, the law also defines electioneering communications to cover expenditures for broadcasts made within 60 days of an election. Based on the amount of money spent and the size of the audience of the broadcast, separate and additional disclosure reports may be required for electioneering communications. The new law takes effect December 1, 2011.
MINNESOTA: The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a decision of the district court, which upheld a new Minnesota law that revealed political donations from several corporations. The law was enacted in May of 2010 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United freed businesses to spend corporate money on elections, overturning restrictions on corporate political spending in about half the states, including Minnesota. State lawmakers responded by enacting disclosure requirements to publicize corporate campaign spending. In affirming the decision, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with claims Minnesota's disclosure requirements effectively prohibit corporate independent expenditures and impose burdensome regulations that inhibit free speech. The Court continued that Minnesota’s regulations are similar to laws upheld by the Supreme Court and the regulations on corporate independent expenditures are less burdensome than federal regulations on PACs.
NORTH DAKOTA: Governor Dalrymple signed Senate Bill 2073 into law. The legislation, effective August 1, 2011, requires corporations making independent expenditures relating to ballot measures to file a report including the company’s name, the measure supported or opposed, and the monetary amount of the expenditure made. This report, known as a "direct expenditure statement," is due within 48 hours of making such an expenditure.
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 lobbyist but am not registered in a jurisdiction because I mainly use outside counsel and do not meet the registration threshold. Should I be concerned with any reporting requirements or other restrictions?
Yes, you need to be familiar with the jurisdiction’s reporting requirements. Even if you do not surpass a registration threshold, your activities may require disclosure. In Pennsylvania, a principal/company is required to report pro-rata compensation and expenses paid to non-lobbyists if they engage in lobbying activities, yet remain under the $2,500 per quarter registration threshold. Though you never engage in direct lobbying, preparation, or strategic planning with your lobbying firm, it may be reportable.
Verify the reporting of political contributions in your jurisdiction. If you are not a registered lobbyist, you may still have responsibility for directing how political contributions are distributed. Vermont, for example, requires political contributions to be disclosed on an employer’s report.
Finally, be aware of gift restrictions. You may believe
it is permissible to take a public official to lunch or for a cup of
coffee because you are not registered in the jurisdiction. In
Massachusetts, a person not registered as a lobbyist may only provide
gifts valued at less than $50 to a state, county, or municipal
employee. If your company is registered as a lobbyist employer in the
jurisdiction, gift restrictions may be applicable to all employees.
Michigan only allows a lobbyist employer to provide gifts in a month
which are valued at $55 or less. Expenditures which are reimbursed are
attributable to the company in all instances. Whether these
reporting will vary.
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