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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

July 2014  

Up in the Air

It is summer and you know what that means in state government affairs. Meetings. Meetings. Meetings.

Okay, I know many of you will not be at the first one but I will see you at many of the other places across the continental United States.

1.  Greek Orthodox Clergy-Laity Congress—July 6-10 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;

2.  National Governors Association—July 10-July 13 in Nashville, Tennessee;

3.  Council of State Governments MLC—July 13-July 16 in Omaha, Nebraska;

4.  IACREOT Conference—July 23-24 in Bonita Springs, Florida;

5.  NCSL Legislative Leaders—July 24-25 in Washington, DC;

6.  Council of State Governments National and Western Annual Conference—
     August 9-13 in Anchorage, Alaska; and

7.  National Conference of State Legislatures—August 18-22 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Now that is a lot of traveling for anyone to handle. I skipped a couple of the other regional CSG meetings because…well, I do need to stop at the office and home every once in a while.

Follow the travel either on Facebook or Twitter @elizabethbartz. You may enjoy the photos and the opportunities or it just might tire you out. Either way, it will not be boring.

Looking forward to sharing with you my reflection of owning State and Federal Communications for 21 years in next month’s issue. Stay tuned.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
@elizabethbartz

New York City Lobbying Changes Take Effect

by Elizabeth Cummins, Esq. Research Associate 

In late 2013, the New York City Council passed Local Law 129 of 2013, making many changes to current lobbying law in the city and surrounding boroughs. Several of the new law's provisions went into effect on May 16, 2014. The definition of lobbying was revised to include attempts to influence legislation not yet introduced, legislation at the state and federal level, and mayoral executive vetoes. It was also revised to include attempts to influence the agenda or calendaring of a meeting of a board or commission. The revised definition excludes architects and engineers as lobbyists under certain parameters, and the new law now imposes a $10,000 registration threshold for such individuals if they do undertake lobbying activities.  The registration threshold for all other lobbyists is $5,000, an increase from $2,000. The amended $5,000 threshold went into effect January 1, 2014.

In addition to revising the definition of lobbying and the registration threshold, the new law also requires more detailed disclosure on the statement of registration and on periodic reports.  Filers must enumerate the names of the persons and agencies lobbied and the subjects lobbied with specificity so the public may search the lobbyist database by bill, resolution title, by bill number, or by person or agency lobbied.

Local Law 129 of 2013 further established a first-of-its-kind amnesty program, whereby any lobbyist who was required, but failed, to file a statement of registration and any client that was required, but failed, to file an annual report at any time on or after December 10, 2006, may enroll in the program and be exonerated of late filing fees and civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance. The city clerk must declare by rule an effective date for the program, which will then last six months from the effective date. Those lobbyists and clients seeking amnesty must file an application within those six months in order to be exonerated from all penalties. 

Several other noteworthy provisions of Local Law 129 of 2013 will take effect in late 2014 and late 2015. Effective December 17, 2014, lobbyists must attend mandatory training biennially.  Effective December 17, 2015, or when the city clerk is capable of implementing a protocol, whichever is earlier, any lobbyist lobbying solely on its own behalf by utilizing the services of its employees and earning or incurring combined reportable compensation and expenses in an amount in excess of $5,000 but not more than $10,000 for the purpose of lobbying need only file two periodic reports per year. Also effective December 17, 2015, or when the city clerk is capable of implementing a protocol, whichever is earlier, the city clerk will utilize sources of information that may assist in identifying lobbyists required to register who have not done so. Such sources will include statements of registration with the state of New York, notices of appearances compiled by city's agencies, and the Doing Business Database.

Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations
 

by John Cozine, Esq., Research Manager 

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill to close "dark money" loopholes used to avoid disclosure of campaign contributors. Senate Bill 27 requires large donations from nonprofits and other multipurpose organizations to be disclosed. The top 10 contributors to state committees will now be posted online by the Fair Political Practices Commission. The bill became effective immediately, but with a delayed operative date of July 1, 2014.

FEDERAL: In a May 23 legal advisory to federal designated agency ethics officials, the Office of Government Ethics announced it had raised the widely attended gathering gift exception ceiling for nonsponsor gifts of free attendance from $350 to $375. This revision of 5 C.F.R. § 2635.204(g)(2) became effective May 19, 2014, when it was published in the Federal Register.

NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA: The day before scheduled adjournment, New Brunswick’s Legislative Assembly approved the Lobbyists’ Registration Act, establishing a lobbyist registry for the province. The act establishes a registrar of lobbyists and outlines requirements for registration by consultant and in-house lobbyists. The province attempted to create a registry a number of times over the last several years, but failed because of financial concerns and technical complications. The act is awaiting an effective date to be issued by proclamation.

VARIOUS: Several jurisdictions issued statements reflecting their careful consideration of the McCutcheon v. FEC ruling issued by the United States Supreme Court earlier this year. Connecticut, Maine, and New York announced they would no longer enforce aggregate contribution limits in their states. San Francisco, California, reached the same conclusion with regard to its aggregate limit on contributions to city candidates. Minnesota announced it would no longer enforce its "special sources limit," which prohibited a campaign from raising more than 20 percent of its total contributions from lobbyists, political committees, and large donors. Wisconsin reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit and announced the state’s aggregate contribution limits would no longer be enforced. However, Massachusetts announced it would continue to enforce the $5,000 aggregate limit an individual may contribute to political party committees during a calendar year, finding the federal law struck down by the Court differed substantially from the law in Massachusetts.

VERMONT: Attorney General William Sorrell issued a formal opinion confirming the state's current contribution limits will remain in effect through the 2014 elections. Vermont enacted Senate Bill 82, early in the legislative session, repealing the existing campaign finance law upon passage and establishing new contribution limits to take effect January 1, 2015. The bill contained a drafting error, however, repealing the existing limits without providing anything in their place before the new limits take effect in 2015. The House attempted to correct the error through an additional bill, but it was never acted upon by the Senate Finance Committee. While the Elections Division issued a statement confirming the old limits still applied, Secretary of State Jim Condos requested a formal opinion from the state's attorney general because his office lacked statutory authority to enforce the old limits. Relying on legislative deliberations on Senate Bill 82, Sorrell ruled the Legislature did not intend to repeal existing limits for the 2014 election cycle and the existing limits at the time of the bill's passage will be enforced until the new limits take effect next year.

Jurisdictions 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.

In that effort, we have recently added abridged jurisdictions to our website. These entries, condensed due to the limited number of relevant local laws, provide the core information our clients need for their government relations work.

The new jurisdictions are:

Ocala, Florida

New Bedford, Massachusetts

Prince William County, Virginia

 

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 292 44 20 113 0
Political Contributions 575 46 40 196 0
Procurement Lobbying 413 49 28 131 0


 

W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

State and Federal Communications has created a series of training videos for our website known as the "Classroom." The Classroom can be accessed from the User Dashboard, which is what you see immediately upon logging into the website. The link to the Classroom is found on the left-hand side of the screen below your bookmarks. Clicking on the link brings you to the Classroom where you can choose from either General Training or Executive Source Guides Training. The General Training videos cover basic topics such as navigating around the website and how to use its many features. The Executive Source Guides Training videos contain more specific information on the content and use of individual Executive Source Guides. Additional training videos are in the works.

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.

Do gift laws preventing registered lobbyists and employers from giving gifts to public officials, also prohibit gifts to the family members of public officials?

Generally, in states that feature a prohibition on lobbyists giving gifts to public officials or employees, the prohibition will extend to members of the public officials’ immediate family. However, immediate family is usually a defined term and will vary by jurisdiction.

For example, Alabama law prohibits lobbyists and employers of lobbyists from offering or providing a thing of value to a public employee, public official, or family member of a public employee or public official. The state defines a family member of a public employee as a spouse or dependent. A family member of a public official is defined as the spouse, dependent, adult child and his or her spouse, spouse’s parent, and siblings of spouse and their respective spouses.

In Kentucky, the General Assembly just passed House Bill 28, which extends the prohibition on gifts to family members of legislators or candidates. Effective July 14, 2014, registered legislative lobbyists will be prohibited from giving gifts to spouses or children of legislators or candidates for General Assembly.

In Pennsylvania, gifts are also prohibited to immediate family members of public officials, employees, or candidates for public office. They interpret immediate family members to include spouses, children, parents, and siblings.

However, not all states include family members in the gift prohibitions. Minnesota’s gift prohibition applies to public officials, employees of the Legislature, and local officials, but it does not extend to their family members.

Before giving a gift to a public official or employee, you should consult the jurisdiction’s ethics commission. Do not expect officials or their family members to know the applicable laws.

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

Lobby Comply NEWS ROUNDUP

New Email Update from our Lobby Comply Blog

 State and Federal Communications, Inc. is now offering the free email update Lobby Comply News Roundup, which began on July 1. We will send it out each week, Monday through Thursday, similar to our publication News You Can Use which is sent out every Friday. Lobby Comply News Roundup will have all your government compliance news sent directly to you.

To sign up, click the SUBSCRIBE tab above.

 


 

The Akron Press Club hosted Ohio Secretary of State-Jon Husted [pictured center] on Wednesday, June 4, for lunch.
Attending from State and Federal Communications, Inc. were [left to right] Lisa Kot, Suzanne Whisler, Zack Koozer,
Elizabeth Z. Bartz, Ken Kelewae, David Jones, Alessandra Dickos,  Amber Fish Linke,
Rachel Rodgers, and John Cozine.
 
On Tuesday, May 27, the National Press Club hosted Donald Trump at a luncheon.  Attending the VIP reception and luncheon from our Akron office and pictured with Trump are John Chames and Elizabeth Z. Bartz. State and Federal Communications, Inc. interns are very busy this summer.  One task has been to beautify the planter outside of our office placed there by Downtown Akron Partnership.  Look for the final product in a future issue of Compliance Now. 
The Go Red for Women Luncheon at Quaker Station in Akron, Ohio offered attendees the opportunity
to wear exciting costumes - all in red.  Attending this year's event were [left to right]
Zack Koozer, Joe May, John Chames, Elizabeth Z. Bartz, David Jones, and Nikos Frazier.
At a recent Akron Roundtable, Cuyahoga County Executive and Democratic candidate for governor
Edward “Ed” FitzGerald [pictured center] spoke to the attendees about his ideas and plans to run Ohio.
Attending were [left to right] Rachel Rodgers, David Jones, Zack Koozer, Ken Kelewae, Joe May,
Elizabeth Z. Bartz, Alessandra Dickos, Elaina Laikos, and Melissa Coultas.

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

 

Events

July 9 WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC

July 10-13

NGA Meeting, Nashville, Tennessee

July 13-16 CSG Midwestern Legislative Conference, Omaha, Nebraska
July 23 WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC
July 23 IACREOT Conference, Bonita Springs, Florida
July 23-25 NCSL Legislative Leaders, Minneapolis, Minnesota

 


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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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