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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

March 2014  


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For those of you who read this column regularly, you know I like my music.

Call me (call me) on the line
Call me, call me any, any anytime
Call me (call me) I'll arrive
You can call me any day or night
Call me!

In this instance, we want you to call Elliott Postlewait, our marketing assistant. He is the #1 person who can help you navigate through our website. Our goal is to make sure all of our subscribers have everyone on staff understand the value received from State and Federal Communications. We are not just Compliance Now, Lobby Comply, Summary of Changes, or News You Can Use. We do a lot more than just post on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Our website, www.stateandfed.com, is full of all of the information you need to handle compliance in your government relations or legal offices for lobbying, campaign finance, procurement, pay-to-play, and gift laws in the 50 states, District of Columbia, Federal, more than 250 municipalities, and Canada.

Give Elliott Postlewait a call at 330-761-9960 or e-mail him at epostlewait@stateandfed.com and set up a time for a call with your team. Call him, call him any anytime.

Until next month, take the time to take a drive through our website…Elliott will help you maneuver through our site.
 

Thank you,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
@elizabethbartz

 

Ethics Reform in Virginia

by Jennifer Zona, Esq., Research Associate 

Virginia’s lack of gift laws has been thrown into the spotlight recently with the federal indictment of former Gov. Bob McDonnell. McDonnell became embroiled in scandal after accepting gifts worth thousands of dollars from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. While state law required all gifts of more than $50 to be disclosed, there was no limit on what a public official could accept from any donor. Williams also gave gifts to McDonnell’s wife and daughters; these gifts went undisclosed because state law does not require gifts to officials’ family members to be disclosed.

The national attention on Virginia has turned the tide in favor of ethics reform. Several ethics bills filed before the session convened on January 8 have now been incorporated into Senate Bill 649. This comprehensive bill prohibits gifts of more than $250 from lobbyists, requires reporting of gifts to immediate family members, changes lobbyist reporting from annual to semiannual, and establishes the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council, a newly created legislative agency tasked with facilitating compliance with the state’s ethics laws. The bill passed the Senate on February 10 and reported from the House Committee for Courts of Justice with amendments on February 21.

While it remains to be seen whether the General Assembly will pass ethics reform before it adjourns on March 8, newly sworn-in Gov. Terry McAuliffe took swift action to ensure his administration would not face the same ethical issues as McDonnell’s had. On his first day as governor, McAuliffe signed Executive Order 2, which prohibits the acceptance of gifts in the executive branch exceeding $100 per calendar year. The order became effective immediately upon his signature. Gifts from lobbyists and principals are now restricted to $25. The order does allow for some exceptions, such as excluding items of $25 or less from the definition of gift. It also allows the receipt of certain items while engaging in an activity serving a legitimate public purpose, such as food and refreshments served at certain events.

Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations
 

by John Cozine, Esq., Research Manager 

VIRGINIA: Terry McAuliffe was sworn in as governor on January 11, and he immediately made ethics a priority for his administration. Executive Order 2 establishes a gift limit for all executive branch officials and employees, prohibiting acceptance of gifts exceeding $100 per calendar year. Gifts from lobbyists and principals are restricted to $25. The order does allow for some exceptions, such as excluding items of $25 or less from the definition of gift. It also allows the receipt of certain items while engaging in an activity serving a legitimate public purpose, such as food and refreshments served at certain events. These restrictions became effective upon his signature on January 11, 2014.

SASKATCHEWAN: Saskatchewan Energy and Resources Minister Tim McMillan is spearheading an effort to overhaul the disadvantageous procurement practices of other provinces. Specifically, McMillan wants to see the preference for local suppliers abolished, which he believes is in violation of trade obligations between provinces. In Ontario, for example, a local company would be awarded a contract even if its bid was slightly higher than the bid of a non-Ontario company. A preliminary legal opinion exists on the issue. A final legal opinion is needed to resolve the issue; however, before taking the concern to a final resolution panel, the accusing province must inform the offending province of its alleged violation and give it an opportunity to correct the practice. McMillan and about two dozen Saskatchewan companies have asked for action from the government.

VERMONT: The state passed comprehensive campaign finance reform early in the second year of its biennial session. Senate Bill 82, signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin on January 23, 2014, repealed Vermont’s existing campaign finance law and enacted a new framework in its place. The most notable provision of the bill is the new campaign finance limits to take effect January 1, 2015. Vermont has effectively been without campaign finance limits since 2006 when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated its existing statutory limits. The bill also included an aggregate election cycle limit to take effect January 1, 2015, unless the U.S. Supreme Court holds such limits unconstitutional when it delivers its decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

GEORGIA: Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law a bill moving the state primary to May 20, 2014. House Bill 310 was passed to comply with a federal court order requiring at least 45 days between primary and general elections and subsequent runoffs to give overseas military personnel time to cast absentee ballots for federal candidates. Primary runoffs will be held on July 22, 2014, while the general election remains on November 4, 2014. The new law, effective upon signature, also restores the requirement to file a March 31 campaign finance report previously removed by House Bill 143.

RHODE ISLAND: The LobbyTracker system used for lobbyist and employer registrations and reports has been updated at the Office of the Secretary of State’s online lobbyist information portal. Among the updates is the allowance for authorized users. An authorized user is someone given permission by the primary contact to file reports and register lobbyists on his or her behalf. This person may also serve as the authorized user for more than one entity, firm, or lobbyist. Additionally, email addresses will now be used for login names. Only one email address is allowed per lobbyist, firm, or entity with the exception of one email address for either a firm and lobbyist or an entity and lobbyist. An entity and firm may not share an email, nor may several lobbyists share one email address.

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 2015
Lobbying Laws 183 35 0 2 0
Political Contributions 367 33 6 1 0
Procurement Lobbying 179 33 0 0 0
 


 

W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

Print All

One feature we have added to our website recently is the ability to view an entire entry at once using the Print All menu item. By using Print All you will be able to see all of the information in a chosen jurisdiction at once without needing to click on each of the topics found in the left side menu. The obvious benefit and the reason for the feature’s name is the ability to print out all of the information at once. One less obvious benefit is the ability to use CTRL-F within the Print All feature to find information when you are not sure under which topic heading it appears. You can also use CTRL-F to find all known instances of a particular word, phrase, or citation throughout the entry. Print All is yet another way State and Federal Communications helps you work more efficiently.

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.

My company is planning to get more engaged on the local level. 
What are some things I need to consider?

There are many considerations for a company prior to engaging on the local level. To ensure you are in compliance while interacting with municipal officials, it is important to check whether the municipality has a lobbyist registration ordinance, gift rules, or a pay-to-play ordinance. These provisions, if present, will impact your ability to engage with municipal officials. Requiring lobbyists to register on the municipal level is a quickly emerging trend throughout the U.S. This trend is not just impacting individuals who engage in what is generally regarded as lobbying, but also affecting permitting, sales, and other business functions.

For example, in San Jose, California, lobbying includes attempting to influence the proposal, drafting, development, adoption, recommendation, or approval of any contract, permit, license, or hiring action. The proliferation of these types of provisions has made it such that applying for a building permit, attempting to contract with the state, or even attempting to influence the selection of a candidate to be hired may be considered lobbying depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances. The broad application of lobbying ordinances in municipalities merits attention and consideration prior to engaging to ensure registration is completed if needed.

An additional consideration is whether your company belongs to any trade associations with a lobbying presence in the municipality. Trade associations can help facilitate introductions to key players. However, you must still pay attention to the lobbyist registration threshold. It is a common misconception that being in the presence of a registered lobbyist negates an individual’s registration requirement. This is very rarely the case and should not be relied upon as a general rule. For more information about local level lobbying, please visit our website, www.stateandfed.com.

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

 


 

The company received a 2013 Weatherhead 100 award
for being one of the fastest growing companies
in Northeast Ohio.

Elizabeth Z. Bartz and Melissa Coultas, sales and marketing manager with State and Federal Communications, enjoying time with Kristen Hanley of the Public Affairs Council during the PAC National Grassroots Conference’s Resource Marketplace and Networking Reception in Miami, FL.

State and Federal Communications hosting a luncheon the first day of the PAC National Grassroots Conference showcasing the recently relaunched State and Federal website. In attendance (left to right): Lacey Janette Meeks with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Robin Mitchell with FedEx, Adam Engelman with the Credit Union National Association, and host Elizabeth Z. Bartz.

State and Federal Communications’ team at the PAC National Grassroots Conference Resource Marketplace and Networking Reception. Pictured (left to right): Ren Koozer, executive director; Joe May, social media manager; Elizabeth Z. Bartz; Jon Spontarelli, compliance assistant; and Melissa Coultas, sales and marketing manager.

 

State and Federal Communication’s team enjoying a Miami Heat game while attending the PAC National Grassroots Conference in Miami, FL. Elizabeth Z. Bartz attempted to persuade LeBron James to return to Cleveland by sporting her Cavaliers jacket. Pictured (left to right): Jon Spontarelli, compliance assistant; Joe May, social media manager; Elizabeth Z. Bartz; and Melissa Coultas, sales and marketing manager with her husband, Chris Coultas.

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

EVENTS
March 3-6 PAC National Conference
Miami Beach, Florida
March 16-19

NASPO Marketing to State Governments
San Diego, California

April 7-8 PAC Spring Executive Meeting
Washington, D.C.
April 9-11 SGAC Annual Meeting
San Francisco, California
April 30 - May 2

OSBA Convention
Columbus, OH

 

 


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