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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

September 2013

Is Good Government Possible in This Environment?

I think we all have an idea of what the definition of good government might look like.

  1. 1. Bipartisan discussion over important current issues.

  2. 2. Keeping “what is best for the country and the electorate” as the most important issue.

  3. 3. Maintaining an acceptable conduct as elected public officials.

  4. 4. Being receptive to business and other public opinions without being manipulated by special      interest groups.

Most of you understand this definition, although I am sure many of you are wondering where these things have gone and what has made them so difficult to maintain and achieve.

Well, I think it has a lot to do with the second part of the title and that includes the words, “In This Environment.”

Just what do these words mean and how have things changed to create the environment we now live in or at least have to live within?

And, of course, the most difficult question “Will good government improve and change the environment we live in or vice versa, Will a better environment give us the opportunity to create good government”

Do I have you sufficiently confused?

The fact is no two topics are more closely related when trying to evaluate this simple statement, “Is good government possible in this environment?”

The sad state of affairs is if you asked the majority of the voting population, the first answer would be “NO.” Of course, NO would be followed by a long litany of their own personal opinions and political advice, be it left or right, which would make everything better if we just follow blindly.

They would also say, not following these simple but absolutely uncompromising ideals is what has gotten us into this mess in the first place.

Judging which of these groups—be they left, right, up, down, or in the middle—is the most responsible for the dilemma of searching for good government, is worse than flipping channels on cable news networks at 5 after 8 p.m. each weekday evening.

Almost incredibly, the art of bad politics has created such an adversarial environment; it seems to be blocking out the sunlight and preventing what this country has done so well for more than 200 years…Govern well.

We seem to be so bogged down in the processes and partisanship, we have lost track of what are the important issues of the day. Good governing—which means in the end, getting things done in a manner as outlined by our Constitution.  This document has no provisions for obstructionism. If anything, it has far more implied provisions for compromise and reconciliation.

This is a bit overwhelming for me—a small business owner, in a regional city like Akron, Ohio—to address. You see, the main goal of my company, in a manner of speaking, is to assure good government has half a chance to exist. State and Federal Communications is responsible for assisting corporations and trade associations to realize what the laws say and stay compliant to the laws as they relate to their lobbying and political contributions activities.

This simple idea of  operating within the framework of the law is what we excel in conveying to our clients. We make no compromises, and we expect good ethical conduct from our clients. We suggest by doing this, our clients can create a GOOD environment, which in turn will allow for the opportunity for good government to thrive and, thereby, help our clients continue to be successful businesses.

This is just our small world of specific topics—lobbying and political contributions—but it also allows us to think of how these simple principles work on a much more grand scale—such as on the national level.

It seems the environment has become polluted and is no longer conducive to allowing good government to thrive. At every turn, we hear about corruption and degradation of “the environment” at almost every level.

Think for a minute. How often do you read or hear about an elected or appointed official, tasked with the responsibility of good governing or overseeing good government at the municipal, state, or even federal level, in some type of ethical or criminal trouble?

These constant stains on our national environment leave those attempting to provide good government with an almost impossible task. Add to this situation the lack of confidence by the electorate and the constant partisan bashing of government officials in the media, and you begin to see how difficult changing this environment has become.

So, who wins? Good government or the bad environment? And, is it possible for good government to inevitably thrive again?

My answer is, YES. But, we must be diligent and use the power we have been given to fix this situation. It may be one of the most disheartening bits of information out there, but the fact that sometimes only 25 to 50 percent of eligible voters take advantage of this privilege is amazing.

We have it within our power as individuals to push things back on the path of good governing and good government. And, we will. We need to encourage everyone to use their constitutional right and step up and be heard. We need to:

  1. 1. Demand politicians maintain a high ethical standard;

  2. 2. Demand policies and issues are dealt with in a compromising manner so progress can be made; and

  3. 3. Be assured, elected officials are more concerned with doing what is best for the people and the country and are not driven by special interest groups or mindless re-election campaigns.

And, most of all, encourage everyone to go out and VOTE. That single simple task, just a few times a year, is our best hope for assuring good government is still possible in this environment.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO


FEC Concludes Same-Sex Couples Can Make Joint Political Contributions
by George Ticoras, Esq. Research Associate 

On July 25, 2013, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) concluded same-sex couples married under state law can make joint federal political contributions from an individual bank account. Earlier this year, a same-sex couple married under Massachusetts law sought to make a political contribution to Dan Winslow, a candidate for the U.S. Senate. The contribution check included instructions to attribute the contribution separately and equally between both individuals, even though the check was drawn from one individual’s bank account.

11 C.F.R. §110.1(i) provides spouses a legal exception to the prohibition on making a contribution in the name of another person. However, the term "spouse" is not defined in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 or in the commission’s regulations.

In the spring, the commission relied on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) interpretation of spouse referring “only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” It issued AO 2013-02, in which the FEC concluded DOMA prohibited applying the exception under 11 C.F.R. §110.1(i). However, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA in June, Winslow asked the FEC to reconsider its conclusion in light of the Court’s decision. At the same time, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) asked the FEC:

  • if it may apply separate contribution limits, under 11 C.F.R. §110.1(i), to a contribution it receives from legally married same-sex spouses, even if only one spouse has income;

  • if a Senate candidate who is legally married to a same-sex spouse may utilize “jointly-held assets” under 11 C.F.R. §§100.33(c) and 100.52(b)(4) to the same extent as a senate candidate who is married to an opposite-sex spouse; and

  • if DSCC representatives may appear at restricted-class events, pursuant to 11 C.F.R. §114.3(c)(2), at which legally married same-sex spouses are present as “families” of other restricted-class members under 11 C.F.R. §114.1(j).

In its follow-up advisory opinions AO 2013-06 and 2013-07, the Commission concluded same-sex couples married under state law are spouses for the purpose of all Commission regulations. The new decisions by the Commission supersede its early spring decision.


Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations

by John Cozine, Esq.
Research Manager
 

MASSACHUSETTS: A special election for the state’s 5th Congressional District for the U.S. House of Representatives was called to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Rep. Edward J. Markey on July 15, 2013. Markey, who won a special election in the spring to fill Sen. John Kerry’s seat following Kerry’s resignation to become secretary of state, was sworn into the Senate on July 16. The Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin announced the special primary election will be held on October 15, 2013. The special general election will follow on December 10, 2013.

NORTH CAROLINA: With the passage of the state’s budget bill, Senate Bill 402, the registration fees for lobbyists and principals increased. On August 1, lobbyists and principals saw the fee more than double when it increased from $100 to $250. Additionally, effective October 1, 2013, all registrations and reports must be filed electronically. Currently, electronic filing is available, but it is not mandatory. As a result, the next quarterly reports for lobbyists and principals must be filed electronically.

HAWAII: Candidates for positions on the Board of Trustees in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs will now be required to run in the primary and general election. Senate Bill 3 took effect September 9, 2013, after Gov. Neil Abercrombie failed to take any action on the bill. The bill requires members of the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to be nominated at a primary election and be elected during the regular general election. Previously, those positions were filled during a special election taking place at the same time as the regular general election. The Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a nine-member board with five trustees serving individual districts and four serving the island at large.

CALIFORNIA: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has affirmed the district court’s order. upholding the constitutionality of the state’s top-two primary system. California Senate Bill 6 implemented Proposition 14, which changed the state’s election system by eliminating party primaries and general elections with party-nominated candidates. Primaries are now nonpartisan with a two-candidate runoff. In early 2012, the 9th Circuit upheld a similar Washington state ballot initiative.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Treasurer Mark J. Saladino announced his office will no longer do business with securities brokers making political contributions to school-bond campaigns. The pay-to-play policy is an attempt to prevent campaign donations from influencing the hiring of underwriters by school districts. The policy is also expected to increase competition between dealers and save taxpayer dollars. Under the new policy, underwriters must not donate to school bond measures if they want to qualify for the treasurer's list of investment banks and securities dealers eligible to sell county bonds. The restriction applies to monetary donations, non-monetary contributions, and pre-election services. In statewide surveys, virtually every securities broker hired by a school district contributed to the district's bond campaign and was retained without competitive bidding. A recent study focusing on California school bond issues found post-election fees paid to underwriters making contributions were on average $27,576 more than those paid to brokers not contributing.


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 e-mail 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 seven 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:

 

Surrey, BC
Lancaster, CA
Miami-Dade County Public Schools, FL
DuPage County, IL

Hilliard, OH
York County, PA
Sioux Falls, SD

 


W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

Quick Reference Information

In the Lobbying Laws publication, jurisdictions with a lobbying law include a subheading titled "Registration threshold," which is found in the Registration section. So, what exactly is a registration threshold? Many jurisdictions do not require registration before engaging in lobbying activities. Rather, the requirement to register may not be triggered until certain conditions are met. For instance, some jurisdictions do not require registration until a certain amount of time is spent engaged in lobbying. As long as an individual remains below the threshold, he or she may lobby without registration. Other jurisdictions have compensation or expenditure thresholds that must be met before registration is required. Always check the registration threshold before becoming active in a jurisdiction, as the rules may allow you to avoid registration or to at least delay it. Note that even if an individual’s activities and expenditures do not require registration, those same activities or expenditures may still need to be reported on another lobbyist’s or on the employer’s activity reports.


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 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 are not legal advice, just our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

I am a registered lobbyist in five jurisdictions and just moved into a new house.  Is there anything I need to do to stay in compliance?

It is easy to be overwhelmed by all of the tasks associated with a move.  However, it is important to notify the jurisdictions in which you are registered of your new address as soon as possible as this affects both your lobbyist registration and reports.  

For example, in Florida, a lobbyist must amend his or her registration within 15 days of a change. Additionally, registration renewal must occur on forms distributed by the state directly to the address listed on the lobbyist registration on file.  Without amending the registration to include a current address, the lobbyist will not receive the registration renewal materials.

In some states, a lobbyist can face penalties for failure to amend a registration upon a change of address.  In Arizona, a registrant must notify the secretary of state within five business days after any change to the information in the registration statement. If the state determines a violation has occurred, and the lobbyist fails to comply with the request to amend the registration, a hearing will occur and the state may issue a fine of up to $1,000.

To avoid facing penalties, know the registrations provisions of your jurisdictions.  In most cases, the jurisdiction will require you to provide an updated address.  Whether this process requires a phone call or amendment to your existing registration will vary. When in doubt, contact the overseeing agency to clarify the requirements.

September's Expert - Sarah Kovit, Esq., Compliance Associate




State and Federal Scrapbook - 2013
 


Celebrating the newly installed President of SGAC,
Katrina Iserman, are Chris Badgley - Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.,
Elizabeth Z.  Bartz, and Jacqueline Clark - Ash Grove Cement.
Kimball Brace - Elections Data Services, visiting
Elizabeth Z. Bartz at the State and Federal
Communications booth at NCSL 2013.


Amber Fish Linke, Esq. - Director, Client and Product Operations with a State and Federal Communications newcomer to NCSL,  Melissa Coultas -
Manager, Sales and Marketing.
Nola Werren, Esq., Client Specialist, with the
Georgia State Panther mascot.

The National Conference of State Legislatures [NCSL] took place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. 
Part of our team attending included Melissa Coultas - Manager, Marketing and Sales; Amber Fish Linke, Esq.- Director, Client
and Product Operations; Nola Werren, Esq. - Client Specialist; and Elizabeth Z. Bartz - President and CEO.
[Team member/photographer - Ren Koozer - Executive Director.]


We were prepared for long hours at NCSL in Booth 921.
It became a favorite spot for current and future customers, especially with the double-padding we had installed for comfort. 
Glad we could see so many of you.

Our 20th Anniversary Service Project happened on a sunny day in Akron.
This team was prepared for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Back row: Melissa Coultas, Ren Koozer, and Joe May.
Middle row: Myra Cottrill, Kim Crowley, Ken Kelewae, and Jon Hanna.
Front row:  John Chames, Elizabeth Bartz, Nola Werren, Joy Cosgrove, and Sarah Kovit.
 

We are proud of our own survivors.
Pictured together are Nola Werren - Two Year Survivor and Elizabeth Bartz - Seven Year Survivor.

 


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 17, 2013

National Press Club - Guest Speaker,
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin
 
Washington, D.C.

 

September 18, 2013

Ohio Birthday Party  
Washington, DC

 

September 18, 2013

PAC Branding Advocacy Campaign  
Washington, D.C.

 

September 19, 2013

Social Media for Government and NonProfit Communications  
Washington, DC

 

September 19-22, 2013

CSG National Conference  
Kansas City, Missouri

 

September 25-27, 2013

PAC State and Local Government Relations Seminar  
Washington, D.C.

 

September 30 -
October 1, 2013

PLI Corporate Political Activities Conference  
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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