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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

November 2013

After Nine Months – It’s a New Website

I am the last person who should compare the redevelopment of a corporate website to the birth of a baby, since I have not successfully done the latter, but it certainly feels as if it is a delivery.

On Friday, November 1st, barring any issue with the World Wide Web, State and Federal Communications’ newly developed website will be launched. It is important to know all of the compliance information previously included is still there. What’s new are the following:

  • Personalized homepage;

  • New bookmarking capabilities;

  • Easier access to News You Can Use and LobbyComply.com Blog;

  • Daily updates; and

  • Viewable from any mobile device.

That last bullet is very important to me and I am sure it is to you, too. I am a walking IT department with my laptop, iPad, iPhone, Microsoft phone, and even my iPod.  Truly over connected at times, but I know I will always have access to www.stateandfed.com for important updates in the states, municipalities, federal, and Canadian governments.

State and Federal Communications is hosting a launch forum on November 12th and November 13th at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. If you are interested in learning more about our site from the folks who have put it all together, please give Elliott Postlewait a call at 330-761-9960 or e-mail him at epostlewait@stateandfed.com and set up a time for the program. We welcome you and your staff to our program.

State and Federal Communications, Inc. The same expertise, a new web experience!

Thank you,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
@elizabethbartz


New Federal Rules for Contractors’ Employment of Veterans and Persons with Disabilities  
by George Ticoras, Esq. Research Associate 

Beginning in March 2014, contractors with the federal government will have additional disclosure requirements concerning the hiring and employment of veterans and individuals with disabilities.

One regulation change sets up a hiring goal for individuals with disabilities. The goal is for federal contractors and subcontractors to have seven percent of each job group in their workforce staffed with qualified individuals with disabilities, according to the U.S. Labor Department press release released August 27, 2013.

The Labor Department identifies the seven percent goal as an “aspirational utilization goal” and states “the goal is not a quota.” The rule also specifies actions vendors must take in the areas of recruitment, training, record keeping, and policy dissemination. The U.S. Labor Department identifies these rules as being similar to those currently required to promote workplace equality for women and minorities.

Additionally, regulations concerning the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act have been amended to include hiring benchmarks, data collection, and access to a contractor’s documentation related to compliance by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. According to the Labor Department’s notice of the program, contractors will utilize one of two benchmark methods: they can use a benchmark equal to the national percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force, or they may establish their own benchmarks using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, data from the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service/Employment and Training Administration, and other factors reflecting a contractor’s hiring circumstances. When listing job openings, contractors must invite applicants to self-identify as protected veterans at both the pre-offer and post-offer phases of the application process. Sample invitations to self-identify will be provided by the Labor Department.

Contractors must document and annually update quantitative comparisons revealing the number of people with disabilities and veterans applying for jobs and the number hired. Contractors must then maintain the information for three years.


Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations

by John Cozine, Esq.
Research Manager
 

FEDERAL: On September 23, 2013, President Barack Obama's two Federal Election Commission nominees, Anne Ravel and Lee E. Goodman, were confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Ravel is the chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Goodman is a partner with the law firm of LeClairRyan. The remaining four commissioners are all serving with expired terms.

MARYLAND: The Ethics Commission issued an informal memorandum regarding a new training certification requirement for lobbyist registration. Part C of the registration form now requires the lobbyist to certify he or she has completed the required training in the last two-year period or will complete the training prior to being a regulated lobbyist for two years. The next live training is scheduled for October 21, 2013. Lobbyists can verify their training status and complete the training online by accessing their accounts at https://lobby.ethics.state.md.us.

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO: Chief U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo has struck down the city of Albuquerque’s ban on campaign contributions from corporations or business entities, finding the prohibition violates the First Amendment. The case (No. 13-cv-00426) involves a provision in the City Charter prohibiting business entities and corporations from donating to candidates for mayor and council. Giant Cab Company filed suit against the city clerk after City Councilor Janice Arnold-Jones returned a contribution to the company, citing the ban on corporate donations. Earlier this year Armijo limited the scope of the city’s pay-to-play restriction, allowing individuals with a city contract to contribute to a candidate as long as they do so under their own name and not the business’ name.

NEVADA: Effective October 1, 2013, Senate Bill 246 revised the definition of committee for political action to include new threshold levels. Entities whose primary purpose is to affect outcomes of elections are now defined as those with more than $1,500 in contributions or expenditures in a calendar year. Entities whose primary purpose is not to affect outcomes of elections have a $5,000 calendar year threshold. Committees must register with the Secretary of State’s Office no later than seven days after qualifying under the revised definition. The changes in the bill were modeled on similar statutes previously enacted by the state of Maine.

MISSISSIPPI: U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock ruled a portion of Mississippi's campaign finance law unconstitutional as applied to a group of five Oxford, Mississippi, residents backing a ballot initiative. The group wished to pool funds to purchase posters and advertising supporting a 2011 initiative, but it determined doing so would trigger political committee registration under state law. The group filed suit, alleging Mississippi's $200 threshold unduly burdened its First Amendment rights. Judge Aycock agreed, finding the $200 threshold was "simply too low" for the "significant and onerous burdens on persons attempting to join together to raise or expend in excess" of the threshold. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood indicated he may appeal the ruling, while Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, whose office enforces the state's campaign finance laws, did not immediately issue comment on the case.


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 235 47 25 70 72
Political Contributions 522 50 55 129 122
Procurement Lobbying 321 45 43 82 49
 

W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

Quick Reference Information

The most important questions for anyone wishing to make a political contribution are “Can I give?” and “How much?” The Contributions section in the Executive Source on Political Contributions addresses both of these questions. The first question is addressed under the “Who may make contributions:” subheading, which concisely list the types of individuals and entities able to make contributions in the jurisdiction, followed by a list of those that are prohibited from making contributions. This subsection is immediately followed by a subsection providing contribution limits in the jurisdiction for both corporations, if direct corporate contributions are permitted, and all other individuals and entities. Before writing a check, please also check the Ban on Contributions section to see if there are periods during which contributions are restricted and, if you are a lobbyist, consult the Restrictions on Contributions from Lobbyists section to see if there are any additional restrictions on your political activities.


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: experts@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 in multiple jurisdictions and my reports are timely filed. Do I have to complete a training course?

Depending on where you are registered, you may be subject to a state mandated training requirement. Requiring the completion of a lobbyist training course has been an emerging trend as states expand their ethics and disclosure provisions.

For example, in Utah, a lobbyist must complete training, and obtain a perfect score on the examination, before their lobbying license is issued. In Louisiana, a registered lobbyist must complete one hour of training by December 31 of each year. The state provides in-person training classes, as well as an online training course.

Some states, such as Maryland, require training on bi-annual basis. In New York, the lobbyist is only required to attend a training course once every three years.

Failure to complete the required training can result in penalties to the lobbyist. Louisiana imposes a personal liability requirement on the lobbyist. Failure to complete the mandatory training class may result in a fine of up to $10,000.

While training is mandatory in some states, other states have optional training opportunities available to lobbyists who want to enhance their understanding of the state’s ethics and disclosure provisions. Colorado and Georgia are two of the states currently offering optional training courses.       

To obtain additional information about the jurisdictions where you are registered, please visit www.stateandfed.com. Our new website premieres on November 1, 2013.

November's Expert - Shamus Williams, Esq., Compliance Associate



State and Federal Scrapbook - 2013
 
State and Federal Communications, Inc. boasts four alumni from the Kent State University Washington Program in National Issues [WPNI].  Pictured here are:  Elliott Postlewait - Marketing Assistant, Melissa Coultas - Manager, Marketing and Sales, Elizabeth Z. Bartz - President and CEO, and Jon Spontarelli - Compliance Assistant.

WPNI is a full 15-week academic program offered each spring semester. A select group of juniors and seniors from various academic disciplines study the U.S. political process and national and international policy issues firsthand in Washington,D.C.
 

  .
Elizabeth Bartz and Steven Tomasic presenting the Executive Management session, “Setup for Success: Creating an Internal Compliance Process,” at the Public Affairs Council State and Local Government Relations Conference in Washington D.C. While celebrating the 40th anniversary of the WPNI, Ohio friends in D.C. gathered for a great time.
Pictured here are (from left to right):  Senator Sherrod Brown, Ohio; Connie Schultz; Jon Spontarelli, Compliance Assistant; Russ Pry, Summit County Executive; and Elizabeth Z. Bartz.
 
Included here with Elizabeth Bartz is the Auction Committee that worked tirelessly to raise money for the Akron Public School's Project Grad Program. Akron Public School's Project Grad event had friends and staff from State and Federal Communications present to enjoy the evening.
Pictured here are (from left to right): Pam Anderson from WKSU; Elizabeth Z. Bartz, John P. Chames, Josh Walker, Alesha Walker, and Sarah Kovit, Esq. from State and Federal Communications.
 
While in D.C. at PAC State and Local Conference in Washington, D.C.,
the staff and friends of State and Federal Communications, Inc.
had fun taking in the sites.


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
November 1 State and Federal Communications, Inc. Website Launch
November 4 American League of Lobbyists - State Lobbying Session, Washington, D.C.
November 12-13 D.C. Lift-off Forum, Washington, D.C.
November 21 American League of Lobbyists - 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 Ohio Holiday Party, Washington, D.C.
December 4 NCSL Foundation Dinner, , Washington, D.C.
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.

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