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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

October 2013

SGAC’s Leaders' Policy Conference —
It’s the place you want to be!

The place—Wigwam in Arizona. The year—2000. The event—SGAC’s Leaders' Policy Conference.  I walked in and my professional career was changed forever.

The Leaders' Policy Conference is produced with the State Government Affairs Council (SGAC) Foundation, NCSL, and CSG as an educational initiative for states’ legislative leadership and state government relations professionals from America’s leading businesses, associations, and service providers. It is designed to encourage dialogue on issues of importance between state legislative leaders and private sector representatives. The public sector includes the legislative leadership from all of the 50 states and U.S. territories, the NCSL and CSG Executive Committees, ALEC’s Board of Directors, and chairs of key committees in the states.

Private sector attendance is for SGAC members only. However, if joining SGAC is on your 2014 bucket list, you can attend as a “prospective” member.

The specifics for the 2013 LPC are the following:

  • November 23-26, 2013

  • Turnberry Isle, Miami, Florida

  • Registration fee is $795 and guests can attend for $295

If you are interested in attending the 2013 Leaders Policy Conference, call SGAC at 703-684-0967 and anyone on staff can help you. You can also find additional information at www.sgac.org. In addition, if I can be of any assistance with this event, please do not hesitate to contact me.

In the meantime, remember we are all about relationships and I believe SGAC can assist you in developing those relationships with key leaders in the states.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
@elizabethbartz


A New Ethics Ordinance for an Old Ethics Mandate
by Michael Beckett, Esq. Research Associate 

Annapolis, Maryland City Council passed the Public Ethics and Financial Disclosure Ordinance (O-41-12) as required by a 2011 state law. The General Assembly enacted legislation (Senate Bill 315) during the 2010 legislative session requiring county and municipal officials to abide by ethics provisions at least as stringent as those applying to state officials. The city’s ordinance was pre-approved by the State Ethics Commission in late October 2012, although Senate Bill 315 originally required compliance by October 1, 2011. The ordinance does not change lobbyist registration or reporting dates, but does add definitions, gift restrictions, and penalties for violations. Ordinance O-41-12 becomes effective January 1, 2014.

Lobbying

Lobbyist or lobbying is defined by the ordinance to include not just direct communications, but also activities having the purpose of soliciting others to communicate with city officials or employees when having the intent to influence. However, even though grassroots activities are included in the definition of lobbying, they have not been added to registration or reporting requirements. Reporting obligations remain focused on expenditures for the benefit of officials and employees.

Gifts

Previously, officials and employees could accept tickets to sporting events and unlimited food and drink. The ordinance prohibits all tickets to sporting events unless the official or employee receives a professional or college sporting ticket from a fellow official, agency, or other government entity. Meals and beverages are still permitted, but are limited to $35 and only if consumed in the presence of the donor, unless provided at a meeting where the official is participating.  

Penalties

The ordinance grants additional enforcement powers to the Annapolis Ethics Commission. The commission may require a lobbyist to file additional reports and may impose a fine of $5,000 for each violation. If the lobbyist has knowingly or willfully violated the lobbying provisions, the commission may suspend the registration.


Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations

by John Cozine, Esq.
Research Manager
 

MISSOURI: The Ethics Commission announced James Klahr as the new executive director for a six-year term beginning September 13, 2013. Klahr has worked for Gov. Jay Nixon since 1997, most recently as the administration’s legislative liaison in the Department of Public Safety. Klahr replaces Julie Allen, who became the elections director for Secretary of State Jason Kander in January. Stacey Heislen will remain on the commission’s staff after serving as acting director.

FEDERAL: On August 19, 2013, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued a legal advisory to designated agency ethics officials stating it will interpret the terms marriage and spouse to include a same-sex marriage and a same-sex spouse where those terms appear in federal ethics provisions, regardless of the employee’s state of residency. The OGE will also interpret the term relative to include same-sex spouses. The directive was created as a result of United States v. Windsor, a U.S. Supreme Court decision issued this summer striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. The OGE consulted with the U.S. Department of Justice before making the Legal Advisory, which took effect on the date of the directive, August 19, 2013.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: The City Council has scheduled a special election to replace Mayor Bob Filner on November 19, 2013. Filner resigned on August 29 following sexual harassment allegations from more than a dozen women. If one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the person will assume office December 17, 2013. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, a runoff election will be held within the 49-day period called for by the City Charter.

NORTH CAROLINA: Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 589 into law on August 12, 2013. The bill, which has been heavily criticized by voter’s rights groups, will require voters to show identification at the polls starting with the 2016 elections. House Bill 589 also increases the contribution limits from $4,000 per election to $5,000 per election, effective January 1, 2014; and requires an adjustment to the contribution amount based on the consumer price index in every odd year thereafter. Additionally, beginning October 1, 2013, the bill makes it illegal for lobbyists to collect checks from one or multiple donors and deliver them to state candidates. Previously, only collecting checks from multiple donors and delivering them to a state candidate was illegal.

DUPAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS: The county repealed its pay-to-play provisions after learning from the state's attorney's office the provisions were unenforceable. As a non-home rule county, the county did not have the power to limit campaign contributions because it was not specifically granted that power by the state Legislature. The changes were enacted as part of an otherwise minor update to the county's ethics code. Provisions requiring disclosure of campaign contributions by contractors remain in place.


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 State and Federal Communications' digital encyclopedias for lobbying laws, political contributions, and procurement lobbying and can be found in the client portion of our website.

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

  Total bills Number of Jurisdictions Passed Died Carried over
to 2014
Lobbying Laws 233 46 23 70 67
Political Contributions 518 50 52 127 102
Procurement Lobbying 319 45 43 82 44

Municipalities Added to our Website

The number of municipalities and regional governments our research associates track continues to grow. We now cover more than 230 municipalities and local governments. This is part of a continuous effort to better serve the needs of our clients.

We recently added four municipalities for which our clients will find comprehensive, timely, and accurate information that includes: complete calendars 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 municipalities are:

 

Aurora, Illinois

Pinellas County, Florida

Ottawa, Ontario
Naperville, Illinois

 


W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

Quick Reference Information

All of State and Federal’s publications include a Definitions section. This is important because every jurisdiction differs in how important terms are defined. Even subtle differences in definitions can have a major impact on issues such as whether registration as a lobbyist is required, whether you are required to file campaign finance reports, or whether pay-to-play restrictions apply to your company. In all publications, the Definitions section can be accessed by clicking on the "Definitions" link on the left-hand side of the webpage. It is important for you to access the definitions to ensure you have a complete understanding of the jurisdiction’s requirements.


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. 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 email us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies are not legal advice, just our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

I am a registered lobbyist with a personal relationship with a state legislator. 
I would like to give her a gift for a special occasion.  Is this permissible?

As a registered lobbyist, you should always be aware of the restrictions placed on you for providing things of value to a state official.  A number of jurisdictions have strict “no gift” laws in place.  Wisconsin prohibits a lobbyist from providing things of pecuniary value to a legislator with very limited exceptions.

A gift can be permissible based on the personal relationship between the lobbyist and the legislator.  Texas and Florida allow gifts between a registered lobbyist and a legislator if they are related to a certain degree.  Please note that jurisdictions can examine the circumstances of the gift such as the extent of the relationship between the lobbyist and the legislator.  The lack of a history of gift giving between the parties or evidence of a personal relationship may render the gift impermissible.  The federal “friendship” exception also does not apply to state and local jurisdictions.

A registered lobbyist may be allowed to give a gift based on the special occasion or reasoning behind it.  In Massachusetts, a lobbyist may give a legislator gifts on certain occasions of religious or personal significance.  Connecticut allows gifts for certain major life events.  Be sure to confirm if any occasions are excluded.  Massachusetts does not consider a birthday to be an occasion of personal significance!

A gift may not be prohibited even if you are a registered lobbyist.  Confirm whether an intended gift is permissible with your state’s ethics office.

October's Expert - James G. Warner, Esq., Sr. Compliance Associate




State and Federal Scrapbook - 2013
 

Elizabeth Bartz, president and CEO of State and Federal Communications, brought
part of her team to the Executive Women’s Day at Firestone Country Club.

[Pictured above are, from left to right, Joanna Kamvouris, Kim Crowley, Alessandra Dickos, Cristina Dickos,
Alexa Livadas, Christine Morgan, and Elizabeth Bartz.]


 

 


State and Federal Communications, Inc. is honored to be one of the recipients of the 2013 Pinnacle Awards of Summit County.
The company received the award in the “Private Sector, Small Company” category.  According to the United Way of Summit County website,
“The Pinnacle Awards of Summit County is Summit County’s exclusive opportunity to honor those individuals and
organizations that are serving the greater good.”

[Pictured above, from left to right,are Dave McPeek, David Jones, Ken Kelewae, Melissa Coultas,
Elizabeth Bartz, Joe May, and Mark Sedmock.]



See Us in Person

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

EVENTS
September 30 - October 1 PLI Corporate Political Activities Conference, Washington, D.C.
October 1 WGR Reception, Washington, D.C.
October 16 WASRG Summit--Keynote Sponsor, Washington, DC
October 16-18 PAC Fall Board Meeting, Paradise Valley, Arizona
November 4 ALL State Lobbying Session, Washington, D.C.
November 21 ALL Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.
November 23-November 26 SGAC Leaders Policy Conference Turnberry, Miami Beach, Florida
December 3 Weatherhead 100 Cleveland, Ohio
December 4-7 NCSL Fall Forum Washington, D.C.

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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.

http://www.stateandfed.com/

 

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