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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

August 2012


NCSL - Trip of the Year

In a few days, we are leaving for Chicago to attend our 13th National Conference of State Legislatures. This is no small feat for State and Federal Communications anymore—we are taking seven (7) staff people and our exhibit booth, which I refer to as my “retirement condo.”

Our schedule for the week is color coded for exhibit times, NCSL meetings we attend, State Government Affairs Council (SGAC) events, Washington Area State Relations Group (WASRG) events, Women’s Legislative network events, and other social events held throughout the week.

In addition, State and Federal Communications is a sponsor to both Ohio Night and Virginia Night—but we are definitely more involved with Ohio Night. Our friends from Whirlpool are providing the Penthouse level from the World of Whirlpool for our function. We are definitely excited that so many folks from the state legislature are attending this year’s NCSL Legislative Summit.

The best thing about NCSL is you will find us if you have any questions or concerns about taking legislators out to dinner or a baseball game (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday - White Sox vs. the Royals Thursday through Sunday - Cubs vs. the Reds ). You can find us in Booth 923 in the Exhibit Hall on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Stop on by to say hello.

The sad part of this year’s program is Bill Pound’s wife, Margie, passed away on July 25th after a long illness. Our hearts and prayers are with Bill and his children at this time. May Margie’s Memory Be Eternal.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO



Wayne County, Michigan Passes Ethics Ordinance

by Shamus Williams, Esq.
Research
Associate

On April 5, 2012, Wayne County, Michigan passed its first ever ethics ordinance. The ordinance creates an ethics board and lays out rules for lobbyists, gift giving, and conflicts of interest for county employees, and includes a revolving door provision. This ordinance supersedes the executive ethics policy announced in February of this year.

The ordinance requires any individual who is retained or employed to induce or influence county decisions must register with the county ethics board as a lobbyist. It also requires before a public official communicates with a person he or she believes to be a lobbyist, the official should verify the registration of that person.

The ethics ordinance also details gifts county officials and employees are allowed to accept. The gift law differs depending on whether the giver of the gift is a registered lobbyist. A registered lobbyist is only allowed to make food or beverage expenditures of less than $100 annually. A non-lobbyist, however, is only allowed to give a gift to a public official if it falls within one of 11 separate categories of gifts exempted from the gift prohibition for non-lobbyists.

An elected official is also limited in post-office employment by the new ordinance. For one year after leaving office, an elected official may not be awarded a county contract. This restriction also extends to any businesses in which the elected official has a substantial financial interest.

Currently, the Wayne County Commission, along with the county executive, is in the process of forming the ethics board. Once the ethics board is formed, it will be empowered to create the rules by which the ethics ordinance is applied. While the board is being formed, the commission is asking lobbyists wait to officially register as lobbyists until the board is able to create the mechanism allowing registration to occur.


Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations

by John Cozine, Esq.
Research Manager
 

ALASKA: The Alaska Public Offices Commission has issued an opinion allowing a new independent group, Alaska Deserves Better (ADB), to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in this year's elections. Although the commission’s director said the advisory opinion is specific to ADB and the way it plans to operate, the decision seems to be relevant for other independent committees. Under current state law, groups such as ADB may receive, each year, contributions of no more than $500 from an individual and $1,000 from a different group. Additionally, groups may not receive contributions from an individual who is not a resident of the state, or from a foreign national. With the exception of the foreign national restriction, the opinion acknowledges laws prohibiting independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions are likely unconstitutional in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010. As a result, ADB, an independent expenditure group, can obtain contributions in unlimited amounts, with no restriction on the amounts or sources.

FEDERAL: The Securities and Exchange Commission has extended the date advisers and third-party solicitors must comply with new pay-to-play rules to April 2013. The commission is extending the compliance date for the ban on third-party solicitation under rule 206(4)-5 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 in order to ensure an orderly transition for third-party solicitors and advisers and to provide additional time to adjust compliance policies and procedures after the transition. Rule 206(4)-5, the "Pay-to-Play Rule," prohibits an investment adviser from providing advisory services for compensation to a government client for two years after the adviser or certain of its executives or covered associates make a contribution to elected officials or candidates. The rule also prohibits an adviser and its covered associates from providing or agreeing to provide, directly or indirectly, payment to any third-party for a solicitation of advisory business from any government entity on behalf of such adviser, unless such third-party was an SEC-registered investment adviser or a registered broker or dealer subject to pay-to-play restrictions adopted by a registered national securities association.

MONTANA: The U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated a portion of Montana law that prohibits corporations from making independent expenditures in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party. In Western Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, the Court quoted from its prior Citizens United v FEC ruling that “political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.” Four of the nine Justices dissented.

ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: The school board of Orange County is now requiring lobbyists to register. Registrations are filed with the school board and are separate from the county's registration requirements. Lobbyists must register prior to July 1st of each year, or prior to lobbying if representation of a principal commences after July 1st. Lobbyists must file an annual report of all lobbying expenditures made during the preceding calendar year on or before April 1st of every year, whether or not any expenditures were made during the reporting period.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: All lobbying statements must be filed electronically commencing with the second quarter disclosure reports, which are due by July 31, 2012. However, an additional paper report is still required. After electronic filing is complete, the filer will be prompted to print, sign, and send the paper form to the commission. All lobbying firms, organization lobbyists, and expenditure lobbyists that have not electronically registered should sign up for access to the city clerk's electronic filing system well in advance of the filing deadline.


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 2013
Lobbying Laws 241 43 15 133 0
Political Contributions 430 46 32 204 0
Procurement Lobbying 269 42 31 145 1

 


W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

Are your filing cabinets overflowing? Would you really like to purge the information you have in those files, but are afraid you might get rid of something important?

Guidance can be found on State and Federal’s website. The Lobbying Laws and Political Contributions publications both contain information on document retention policies. In the Lobbying Laws publication, document retention information can be found under the Important Features of the Law heading. In the Political Contributions publication, the document retention policies are found under the Registration and Reports Required heading. So clear out those files and rest easy!

 


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.

My company has existing, ongoing contracts with various state agencies.  Sometimes, I have discussions with employees of these agencies (technicians, managers, and directors) regarding their use of my company’s products.  Do I have to register and report as a lobbyist?

A.

As a general rule for state-level lobbying, as long as discussions are limited to the evaluation and servicing of existing contracts, this type of activity will not typically be considered lobbying, the definition of which often includes influencing executive branch action.

However, in some states, executive branch action encompasses the state’s procurement process, including decisions to modify, extend, expand, or renew existing contracts.   Once discussions of this type occur, lobbyist registration and reporting may be triggered, depending on the state’s specific time and expenditure thresholds.  Every state has different thresholds, and requires its own specific analysis.

Here are some important things to track when evaluating whether you need to be registered in a specific jurisdiction:

1. Who are you talking to?  In jurisdictions requiring registration for procurement lobbying, registration may hinge on whether the agency employee is considered a covered official.   In some states, covered official is broadly defined to include all employees, while other jurisdictions require registration and reporting for attempting to influence directors or other major decision makers.

2. How many contacts have you had with the agency? How much time have you spent? Some jurisdictions require registration before the very first contact, while other jurisdictions require registration and reporting once you spend a certain amount of time engaging in procurement lobbying.  You may need to determine your pro-rata share of compensation for time you have spent preparing for and engaging in the communication.

3. Is there a pending RFP or a contract renewal on the horizon? In some jurisdictions, the timing of your conversation with an agency official is important.   Is there a pending decision before the state agency which would affect your company’s bottom line?  If so, registration as a lobbyist may be required before engaging in communication which could be perceived as influencing the decision making process.

4. Did you expend any money on behalf of agency employees or officials? In some jurisdictions, registration may be triggered by expenditures on behalf of employees or officials.

August's Expert - Myra Cottrill, Esq.


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

Western Southern President, John Barrett, Elizabeth Z. Bartz, and John Chames enjoying a lovely beach reception in Naples, Florida.

Armond Budish, Ohio Minority Leader State Representative, with Elizabeth Z. Bartz at the CSG MLC in Cleveland. Rep. Budish received the Stuben Star from SGAC.

Kevin J. Coughlin, former member of the
Ohio Senate with Elizabeth Z. Bartz at the CSG MLC
in Cleveland.

Vice Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile and Elizabeth Z. Bartz at the CSG MLC.

State and Federal Communications, Inc. has a strong Intern Program.  They were included when the Greater Akron Chamber met with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in July.  Photographed here are: Dan Colantone [President, CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber], Alexa Livadas [Miami University], Mike DeWine, Zack Koozer [Kent State University], David Jones [Stark State College], Emily Kessler [Northwestern University], Maria Varonis [University of Akron], and Joanna Kamvouris [Kent State University].


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.

                 Events

August 6-9, 2012

NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) Booth 923
Chicago, Illinois

August 14, 2012

Watergate II: Cancer on the Presidency
Akron, OH

September 6-7, 2012

Practising Law Institute
Washington, D.C.

September 19-21, 2012

PAC State and Local Government Seminar
Washington,

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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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