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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

March 2013


Compliance Dream Team – Encore

Ev’ry man has his own special dream

And your dream’s just about to come true.

Life’s not as bad as it may seem

If you open your eyes to what’s in front of you.

Appearing only at the Public Affair Council National PAC Conference is the encore of the Compliance Dream Team! I am extremely excited and honored to pair up with The Extra Honorable Ken Gross and The Mighty Honorable Michael Toner to hear your confessions—I mean actions—and answer your questions.

This session will present a series of compliance questions to the panel for our expert response. There will also be an opportunity to submit anonymous compliance missteps for us to hear and provide corrective action.

This is bigger than Broadway…Larger than Hollywood. And, it will only happen on Tuesday, March 5th at the Miami Beach Eden Roc. Join us at the Public Affairs Council National PAC Conference.

We’re your Dream Team

We’ll make you happy.

We’re your Dream Team

We’ll always care.

 Until next month, I am looking forward to seeing you out and about!

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO

  PAC/PAC Conference - Compliance Dream Team Link 



Taking Matters into Their Own Hands

by Michael Beckett, Esq.
Research
Associate

This year’s push for ethics reform in several state legislatures could not happen fast enough for some elected officials. Georgia’s Senate and Missouri’s Secretary of State, Jason Kander, decided on day one to take matters into their own hands by adopting new gift rules for their respective offices. 

The Georgia Senate imposed a $100 limit on gifts from lobbyists. Senators approved the gift cap on the opening day of the 2013 General Assembly session as part of new rules governing the chamber’s operations for the current two-year term. The new rule does not apply to travel costs or to gifts provided to groups of senators, including committees. The rule does allow lobbyists to give $100 gifts on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, House Speaker David Ralston has unveiled an ethics reform bill aimed at expanding the definition of a lobbyist and restricting lobbyist gifts. House Bill 142 would ban even the smallest expenditure of a lobbyist if for the benefit of a single member of the General Assembly. Lobbyists would still be permitted to spend on committees, caucuses, and expenses to public officers for trips to conferences and meetings.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, sworn in on January 14, 2013, announced a new ethics policy as part of his “Day 1 Achievements.” The new policy prohibits the staff in his office from accepting gifts from lobbyists. State administrative policy already curtails what state employees may accept from lobbyists, but agencies are free to adopt stricter guidelines. Additionally, Missouri’s House and Senate are both considering bills to curb lobbyist spending. House Bill 139 would prohibit General Assembly members, family, and staff from accepting more than $1,000 per calendar year from lobbyists. Senate Bill 181 would prohibit statewide elected officials, legislators, staff, employees, and family from accepting gifts over $50 from a lobbyist.
 


Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations

by John Cozine, Esq.
Research Manager
 

OKLAHOMA: The Ethics Commission hired Lee Slater as its new executive director. Mr. Slater began working part time with the commission on February 1, 2013, and will become the full-time executive director on July 1, 2013. The position became vacant when Marilyn Hughes retired as executive director after 25 years with the agency.

MASSACHUSETTS: An argument put forth by the Secretary of State’s office requiring lobbyists to disclose every communication with public officials “makes absolutely no sense,” wrote Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders. Secretary of State William Galvin’s office had argued it has the authority to interpret “all direct business associations with public officials” expansively and require the names of all officials with whom a lobbyist has communicated. In reaction, a lawsuit was brought against the Secretary of State’s office by several parties. The arguments in favor of the disclosure requirement were dismissed by the judge in her decision.

ARIZONA: The Office of the Secretary of State released the 2013-2014 election cycle contribution limits. Individuals and noncertified political committees can now contribute $912, increased from $872, to a statewide candidate; $450, increased from $430, to a non-statewide local candidate; and $440, increased from $424, to a non-statewide legislative candidate. Additionally, the amount committees certified by the state may contribute is $4,560, increased from $4,352, to a statewide candidate; $2,270, increased from $2,170, to a non-statewide local candidate; and $1,816, increased from $1,736, to a non-statewide legislative candidate. These limits apply to candidates not receiving public funds under the Citizens Clean Elections Act. Other changes include increasing the amount individuals may contribute annually to political committees or candidates from $6,100 to $6,390. The contributions limits are required by law to be adjusted every two years.

FEDERAL: The Federal Election Commission (FEC) published the 2013-2014 election cycle contribution limits indexed for inflation. As required by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the FEC must adjust certain contribution limits every two years. The individual and non-multicandidate PAC contribution limit to federal candidates increased from $2,500 to $2,600 for both primary and general elections, allowing for a total of $5,200 for a federal candidate. The overall biennial limit for individuals increased from $117,000 to $123,200, with a maximum of $48,600 for all candidates and $74,600 for all PACs and parties. The limit for contributions to national parties from individuals and non-multicandidate PACs also increased from $30,800 to $32,400 per year.

MAINE: The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices increased some of the state’s contribution limits as required by state law. The state requires the commission to examine the limits each December of an even-numbered year based upon the consumer price index. The commission only increased the limits for candidates to the state legislature by $25. Now, those candidates may accept $375 for the primary and another $375 for the general election per contributor. A candidate may accept contributions for the primary election, even if he or she is running opposed. The commission will next evaluate the contribution limits in December 2014.


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 2014
Lobbying Laws 100 32 1 0 0
Political Contributions 242 37 0 0 0
Procurement Lobbying 143 31 0 0 0

 


W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

Quick Reference Information

Users of our Lobbying Laws and Procurement Lobbying publications have no doubt noticed the addition of the charts in the Gift Law section of those publications. The charts are meant to provide a quick reference for both lobbyists and non-lobbyists on several common gift issues. Specifically, the charts provide easy access to the rules on providing food and beverages, travel, entertainment, and event tickets to government officials and employees. Complete gift rules for both lobbyists and non-lobbyists can still be found below the chart and should be referenced for more complex questions. It is our hope that you find the charts to be a valuable addition to the publications and provide yet another tool to assist you in remaining in compliance.


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 have been asked to testify before a committee of the state legislature regarding a pending or potential bill.  Is this considered lobbying activity?

A.

As is usually the case, the answer will vary drastically depending on the state in question.  In this specific situation, there are at least three variables to consider when evaluating this question: 

  1. Is testimony excluded from the definition of lobbying? In many states, providing information, participating in a meeting, or otherwise communicating at the request of a public official is specifically excluded from the definition of lobbying.  This is true even if the information will potentially influence legislation, as long as the contact was initiated by the state.  In these jurisdictions, a person may be asked to testify about a topic as an industry expert without being subject to lobbying laws.    For instance, in Colorado, a person who is not otherwise registered as a lobbyist, but provides information at the request of public officials is not required to register and report.  Iowa has a similar exception for people providing testimony or information at the request of a public official.
     

  2. Is the communication before a public committee? Often, participation at a public meeting or proceeding or otherwise testifying on the public record is excluded from lobbying laws.  Delaware’s exemption is a good example of a state allowing for testimony at a public hearing without lobbyist registration.  Likewise, Connecticut has an exception from its definition of lobbyist for those who are not hired specifically to lobby and whose appearances are limited to public testimony. 
     

  3. Is there a pending bill before the legislature?  Finally, it may be important to determine whether there is an actual bill pending before the legislative body in question, or if the putative lobbying communication is only regarding potential legislation.  Certain states only regulate attempts to influence legislation that has already been introduced.   North Dakota is a good example of this point.  In order to be considered a lobbyist, a person must be attempting to influence a live bill. An individual does not need to register as a lobbyist for attempting to influence a potential bill.

There are very few concepts, rules, or guideless applicable to all states, and accordingly, situations like this must be examined on a case-by-case basis.  For specific guidance, please contact a member of the State and Federal Communications compliance department.

March's Expert - Stephen Quinn, Esq., Compliance Associate



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 - 2013
 

Key West, Florida was the location for the latest PAC Grassroots 2013 Conference.  Jacqueline K. Clark of
Ash Grove Cement joined "Team State and Federal Communications, Inc." for a photo. 
Our team included: Ren Koozer, Executive Director,  I.T., Ms. Clark, Elizabeth Z. Bartz, President and CEO,
Myra Cottrill, Esq., Client Specialist, and Michael Beckett, Esq., Research Associate. 
Our photographer was our own Social Media Coordinator, Joe May.

 

It's such a special treat to have a conference in Key West.  This view is from the Casa Marina Resort
looking past the pool into the ocean.  Ohioans dream of this view and weather. 
 


A Milestone Anniversary

 

State and Federal Communications, Inc.'s, Ren Koozer, Executive Director, I.T., celebrated his 15th anniversary with the company.  He received a U.S. flag [from the office of Congresswoman Betty Sutton] that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol on November 1, 2012 along with a certificate of authenticity, and a Samsung ATIV Windows 8 tablet.

We celebrated with his favorite New York cheesecake topped with blueberries and strawberries.  Delicious.

 

Congratulations to a real team member.


 


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

March 4-7, 2013 2013 National PAC Conference  -  SPONSOR Conference Wi-Fi Access
Miami Beach, Florida
March 6, 2013 Ohio Birthday Party  -  SPONSOR
Washington, D.C.
March 13-15, 2013 SGAC Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia
April 14-16, 2013 NASPO Conference
Indianapolis, Indiana
April 22-25, 2013 BIO International Convention, Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

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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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