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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

   January 2012


Happy New Year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time to jot down those pesky New Year Resolutions! We are ready with the State and Federal Communications, Inc. Resolutions for 2012 and I think you are going to like them…Think 30, 50, 100. Sort of like Herman Cain’s 9 9 9, but not really.

Resolution #1 is to include 30% additional information onto our website. I am challenging the research department to make sure we are including all of the necessary information you need for your 2012 government affairs work.

Resolution #2 is to make it 50% easier for client use. That means we need to make sure we have additional subcategories so you can easily find the information you need.

Resolution #3 is to make it 100% accurate.  We know we are your #1 resource for lobbying, political contributions, procurement lobbying, and Canadian compliance and we have to be accurate so the information you forward to your colleagues and supervisors is absolutely correct.

For these resolutions…you can count on us to keep them!

Happy New Year.

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO


Title 15 and the Maryland Mandate

by Michael Beckett, Esq.
Research
Associate

 
Last year, Maryland’s legislature passed a public ethics law, Title 15, after finding an erosion of public confidence in government decisions due to improper influence. Title 15 requires government officials and employees to disclose their financial affairs and sets minimum ethical standards for the conduct of state and local business. The law also requires
all counties, municipalities, and school boards adopt ethics standards at least equal to the state's ethics law with regard to conflicts of interest, financial disclosure, and lobbying. Each local ethics commission is required to certify its compliance with the Maryland Ethics Commission on or before October 1st of each year, beginning in 2011.

Some local officials are still working toward agreement and passage of the required bills. Although officials may follow the state’s guidelines, many are choosing their own paths. For instance, the registration thresholds for lobbyists in Title 15 include an expenditure clause and a gift clause: $500 in expenditures towards influencing legislative or executive action; or $100 in gifts for the purpose of influencing executive action. The recently passed Charles County bill has a $100 gift threshold, while Alleghany County’s gift threshold is $200. Neither bill includes an expenditure clause. However, in Howard County, there is a $100 expenditure threshold for any lobbying activity, but no gift threshold.

Conflict of interest rules have also been the subject of debate. Title 15 forbids former public officials (other than legislators) and employees from assisting or representing a party in a contract or other specific matter for compensation if the former official or employee participated significantly in the matter as an official or employee. Frederick County attempted to limit this prohibition to one year for former commissioners with an exemption for former employees. This modification was rejected by the state. The Frederick County delegation now plans to propose changes to Title 15 before the general assembly to allow the one year limitations.

Counties such as Baltimore and Montgomery continue to debate and, as of December 1, 2011, had yet to approve a final version of the required ethics bill.
 


2012 Guidebooks are on their way to YOU!

The State and Federal Communications, Inc. research staff has updated this Executive Source Guidebook and we are pleased to provide it to you, our valued clients.

This quick desk reference combines information from our online resources and lists the information by state:

- The Executive Source Guide on Lobbying Laws™;
- The Executive Source Guide on Political Contributions™; and
- The Executive Source Guide on Procurement Lobbying™.

This guidebook is filled with valuable information. However, we also caution it has two limitations:

  • The online resources, which you receive either through your subscription or as part of your lobbying compliance service, are comprehensive. This guidebook summarizes information in the online resources, and is meant only as a quick-reference guide.   
     

  • While this guidebook is accurate and timely when we print it, please understand our online resources are updated continually. We provide this guidebook to you as a convenience, but your ultimate source of information should always be the online resource(s) to which you subscribe.

We consider this guidebook another value-added benefit of your partnership with State and Federal Communications. You also receive, via e-mail, monthly updates of important compliance legislation on the federal and state levels; News You Can Use™, our weekly summary of current news and events regarding compliance; and the Compliance Now newsletter with even more information.

Please call us at (330)761-9960 or email, marketing@stateandfed.com if you need to have your subscription username or password forwarded.

We are privileged to have you as clients, and are pleased to be your trusted adviser for government affairs compliance.


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 207 48 31 83 47
Political Contributions 388 51 50 133 83
Procurement Lobbying 185 42 22 73 22

 


Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations

by John Cozine, Esq.
Research Manager
 

MARYLAND: The State Board of Elections has launched a new campaign finance website that provides easier searches and greater transparency for campaign finance reports. The new website, located at http://www.campaignfinance.maryland.gov, upgrades and further automates reporting and disclosure of campaign contributions. The new site replaces one run on outmoded software. Previously, campaign finance reports had to be manually uploaded to the website, often delaying public disclosure until the next day. With the new site, reports are automatically uploaded and can be accessed immediately. The public now has more ways to search campaign finance documents and more comprehensive information about committees, including any violations. The Maryland State Board of Elections will start offering training on how to use the new software, targeting current and future candidates and fundraising committees. The training will be offered on several dates around the state.

FEDERAL: The Federal Elections Commission has issued an advisory opinion approving the plans of a for-profit company’s mobile-based financial processing platform to collect and distribute funds to candidates, committees, and PACs. GivingSphere, which allows individuals to make donations to charitable groups through the internet and mobile devices, requested an opinion about implementing contributions to political entities. Customer funds for contributions are accumulated by rebates earned by purchasing goods from merchants who participate in the GivingSphere affiliate program. Advisory Opinion 2011-19 allows GivingSphere to transmit its customers' funds in the form of political contributions. Additionally, the company may sell advertising space to political committees on its website, provide a searchable database of political committees to its customers, and permit political committees to post a "badge" of the GivingSphere on their website. Because GivingSphere is merely processing contributions, it will not be subject to any reporting requirements.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: The City of Philadelphia Board of Ethics has released an advisory alert stating lobbyist and principal registration will not be required prior to January 3, 2012. The first reporting period will be the first quarter of 2012, and the first expense report will be due April 30, 2012. Regulation No. 9, regarding lobbying, will become effective January 3, 2012. The board intends to recommend amendments to Regulation No. 9 to bring it into conformity with amendments made to Philadelphia City Code Chapter 20-1200 by Bill No. 110556. In the event an online filing system is not available by January 3, 2012, an interim registration method will be provided by the board.

MINNESOTA: The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board released a memo concerning electronic filing of campaign finance reports. Electronic filing of campaign finance reports will be mandatory for most committees beginning with reports covering calendar year 2012. The electronic filing requirement does not apply to 2011 year-end reports. The waiver of electronic filing request process will be discussed at a future meeting.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced new rules governing economic disclosure statements filed by city contractors. Filers will be required to list the names of all persons employed by the filer who were city employees or city elected or appointed officials within the 12 months prior to the filing of the economic disclosure statement. Additionally, filers will be required to list all gifts given to city employees and officials within the 12 months prior to filing.


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’m a registered lobbyist in many different states.   I’ve noticed some states have badge

requirements.  Am I really required to wear a badge? 

 

A.

The 2012 registration season is upon us.  As legislative sessions commence in various states,

it is important to take stock of your various lobbyist registration requirements.   As you probably know, it is important to timely file your registration renewal.  However, there are other auxiliary requirements you must mind before you step onto capital grounds, such as your jurisdiction’s training and badge requirements.

The short answer to your question is a resounding yes—in some jurisdictions, wearing your badge is required to engage in lobbying activity.  In some states, you are unable to complete your registration, or file lobbyist disclosure reports unless you pick up your name badge.   Some states may require a personal visit to have your picture taken.  For example, in Georgia, upon initial registration, you must visit the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to have your photo taken for your badge.  For quick reference, here is a list of states where badges and/or nametags are required:

  • Connecticut

  • Georgia

  • Kansas

  • Maine

  • Missouri

  • North Dakota

  • New Hampshire

  • New Jersey

  • Nevada

  • Pennsylvania

  • Rhode Island

  • South Dakota

  • Wyoming

However, in some jurisdictions, although wearing a badge is encouraged, it is not absolutely required.  These states include Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia.


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

Our holiday Giving Tree was full, with the gifts going to the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit County generously donated by State and Federal Communications employees and friends. 
The representatives of the shelter were grateful.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. presented a program at EEI's External Affairs Meeting in Washington, DC. Elizabeth Z. Bartz co-presented with the Breanna Olson from Public Affairs Council to discuss the best way to maximize campaign contributions. Thanks to Sarah Lashford for the invitation.

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.

January 8-13, 2012 Public Affairs Council Institute
Laguna, California
January 19, 2012 NCSL Executive Committee Meeting
Kaiwah Island, South Carolinia
January 30 - February 2, 2012 National Grassroots Conference
Miami, Florida
February 25 - February 27, 2012 NGA Winter Meeting
Washington, D.C.
February 27 - March 1, 2012 National PAC Conference
Miami, Florida

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The Mission of State and Federal Communications is
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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