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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

August 2014  

Midwestern Work Ethic Rocks Us to 21 Years Old

July 1, 1993, is when it all began for State and Federal Communications. It is hard to believe it has been 21 years.

Last September, Jason Nazar wrote an article in Forbes magazine, 16 Surprising Statistics About Small Businesses. Here are a few of his points:

  1. The Small Business Administration defines a small business as an enterprise having fewer than 500 employees.

  2. There are 28 million small businesses in the United States. And, this does not include the 22 million self-employed people with no additional payroll or employees.

  3. Since 1995, small businesses have generated more than 65% of the net new jobs.

  4. Seven out of 10 new employers survive at least two years, half at least five years, a third at least 10 years, and a quarter stay in business 15 years or more.

I had to read that last one a few times because we have definitely exceeded it. I only review these articles when I am reflecting on another year in business. I hardly study it nor do I count where we stand in the percentage of small businesses who have reached milestones.

So, how do we keep things moving? Just a few things…

  1. Do the next right thing.

  2. Do what you said you would do.

  3. Ask someone if you need help.

  4. Remember Scar from The Lion King? Life’s not fair. Deal with it.

  5. Most luck comes from general hard work.

  6. It’s work…If it was a lot of fun, it would be called recess.

  7. Admit mistakes when made…It really does make you feel better.

  8. Bump in the road? Jump over it and keep moving forward.

  9. Nothing short of right is right. [Hat tip to Bill Taylor, first director of Kent State University School of Journalism.]

  10. If it is to be, it is up to me.

I am not Peter Drucker, Mary Follett, or Max Weber. I am not even Ben Stein…but I was raised by working parents with the Midwestern work ethic, which is basically the belief that hard work and perseverance, rooted in quiet humility, pays off in the long run.

We are up to the challenge. In 2014, we now have 38 people on staff to help you know what is important about lobbying, political contributions, and procurement lobbying in the United States, federal government, more than 250 municipalities, and Canada.

Thank you for being our clients, colleagues, vendors, and friends. Watch out for what’s next.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
@elizabethbartz

States Continue to Respond to McCutcheon

by John Cozine, Esq. Research Manager

States have continued to respond to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Since our last update in Compliance Now, more decisions responding to the decision have been issued.

The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission announced it would no longer enforce the state’s aggregate contribution limit absent further direction from the General Assembly or a court of competent jurisdiction. The commission stressed, however, the base contribution limits would remain in full force and effect.

The Maine Commission on Government Ethics and Practices stated it would no longer enforce the yearly $25,000 aggregate contribution limit applicable to individuals and entities contained in Maine Revised Statutes section 1015(3) unless it received guidance from the Legislature or a court. The policy statement noted the commission’s intention to study the issues and perhaps propose legislation during the next legislative session.

After initially announcing it would no longer enforce the state’s $12,500 aggregate limit on the amount an individual may contribute to all candidates, the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance studied the matter further and stated it would continue to enforce the $5,000 aggregate limit on contributions by individuals to party committees.

A provision in Minnesota’s campaign finance law known as the "special sources limit" will no longer be enforced as applied to individual large donors. U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the law with respect to individual large donors in response to a challenge on First Amendment grounds. The special sources limit prohibits a campaign from raising more than 20 percent of its total contributions from lobbyists, political committees, and large donors contributing more than one half of the individual contribution limit.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down a campaign finance law limiting contributions to super PACs. Sections 14-114(8) and 14-126 of the New York Election Law imposed an annual aggregate contribution limit of $150,000 per contributor. The judge enjoined New York’s aggregate contribution limit as an unconstitutional ban on free speech. In its May 2014 meeting, the State Board of Elections determined the $150,000 yearly aggregate limit on political contributions from individuals can no longer be enforced in light of recent federal court decisions. New York campaign finance law imposes a similar aggregate limit of $5,000 on a corporation’s yearly contributions. The board made no ruling with regard to the corporate limit; however, that limit is being challenged in federal court.

Wisconsin’s aggregate limits had already been challenged in Young v. Government Accountability Board. The parties in that case agreed to put the case on hold until the McCutcheon decision was issued. Following the ruling, the Government Accountability Board reached a settlement in which it agreed the aggregate contribution limits for individuals and PACs contributing to state candidates were no longer enforceable.

The Wyoming Joint Corporations, Appropriations, and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee ordered a draft bill to repeal the state’s aggregate contribution limits, which conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcheon.

In addition to the changes by the states, the San Francisco Ethics Commission adopted a resolution stating it will not enforce the aggregate limit on contributions to city candidates in light of the McCutcheon ruling. The Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code imposes an aggregate limit of $500 multiplied by the number of city elective offices to be voted on in the election. The city’s $500 limit on contributions from an individual to a single city candidate remains in full force.

Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations
 

by John Cozine, Esq., Research Manager 

CANADA: The Fair Elections Act, which amends the Canada Elections Act, received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014. This act increases contribution limits to candidates and political parties from $1,200 to $1,500. Third-party advertising limits, currently imposed only during a campaign period, will be imposed for all election advertising "in relation to a general election." The act also increases penalties to $100,000 for intentional violations by corporations acting as a third party. The new limits are not effective until the next call for a general election at the federal level.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Washington D.C. voters will have the chance to elect an attorney general in the upcoming months due to a decision by the D.C. Court of Appeals. Currently, the attorney general is appointed by the mayor. In 2010, voters approved a charter amendment authorizing the first election of the city’s attorney general and setting a primary election for April 2014. In late 2013, the council passed a law delaying the election from 2014 to 2018, fearing the city lacked the necessary preparation. Paul Zukerberg, the only candidate for the city's first attorney general race, challenged the 2013 law in court. On June 4, 2014, the Court of Appeals ruled an election must be held in 2014 unless it would not be practically possible for the D.C. Board of Elections to do so. The court further noted the possibility of a 2015 election if a 2014 election is not possible. Following a directive by the Court of Appeals to set a date for a special election in as few as 70 days, the D.C. Superior Court will now decide how soon the election must be held. Although the election is projected to be scheduled on November 4, 2014, the same day as the mayoral election, an election before November is also a possibility.

FLORIDA: Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 846 into law on Friday, June 20, 2014. The ethics bill took effect July 1, 2014, and requires lobbyists seeking to influence Florida's five water management districts to register with the Lobbyist Registration Office of the Florida Legislature. Rep. Kathleen Passidomo has said if registration works smoothly at the water districts, the Legislature may consider requiring other special districts to register lobbyists.

VERMONT: House Bill 735, signed by the governor on June 16, 2014, made changes to the lobbyist fee structure. Effective July 1, 2014, the initial registration fee for lobbyists and lobbyist employers increased from $25 to $60. The employer fee for each additional lobbyist increased from $5 to $15. The lobbyist fee for each additional employer also increased from $5 to $15. Senate Bill 86 was amended this year to include additional changes to the state’s lobbying law. Also, effective July 1, 2014, the Office of the Secretary of State will no longer mail disclosure forms to lobbyists and employers. Forms will be made available on the website no later than 30 days prior to the deadline. Additionally, contracts with legislators or administrative officials are no longer treated as a type of expenditure and will be reported on their own line on the form.

VIRGINIA: On June 20, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed the state’s two-year budget with a series of line-item vetoes. With plans to introduce stronger ethics reform legislation in next year’s General Assembly session, he vetoed all funding for the Virginia Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council. The council, established to oversee state ethics provisions related to lobbying, gifts, and conflicts of interest, is a product of the recent omnibus ethics reform bill signed by the governor in April. Lawmakers needed two-thirds of the votes in each legislative body to override the veto. The House overrode the veto, but the closely divided Senate lacked enough votes to follow suit. The veto of funding for the Ethics Council was sustained.

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:

Bakersfield, California

Putnam County, Florida

Stark County, Ohio
 

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 296 44 30 461 0
Political Contributions 581 46 54 239 0
Procurement Lobbying 418 49 40 176 0


 

W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

Subscribers to our Executive Source Guide on Political Contributions may have noticed a new addition to the publication beginning to populate throughout the guide. We are in the process of adding charts containing contribution limits to all of the jurisdictions we cover. These charts are meant to show, at a glance, the contribution limits from corporations, PACs, individuals, and unions to the various candidates, PACs, and parties. Please note, the charts may change slightly in a given jurisdiction to reflect the particular realities of contributing there. And of course no quick reference chart can show all of the complexities involved in making a contribution, so it is important to familiarize yourself with all of the contribution rules detailed below the chart. But for those familiar with the rules in the jurisdiction, these charts represent a real time saver. If you have yet to see one, the chart in Mississippi represents a straightforward example. You can find the chart under the Contributions link on the left side of the screen.

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.

Several employees from my organization engage in selling to the states.  Do they have any lobbyist registration or reporting requirements?

The answer to your inquiry depends on two things:  first, does the state regulate procurement lobbying, and second, is there an applicable bona fide salesperson exception to the registration requirement.  To determine whether a state regulates procurement lobbying, you can use our Executive Source Guide on Procurement Lobbying.  The regulation of individuals attempting to influence the selection of a vendor has increased significantly, and this trend is expected to continue.

In states where procurement lobbying is regulated, individuals engaging in sales activity may be exempt from the registration requirement where a bona fide salesperson exception exists.  For example, in Maryland, a regular full time employee of a vendor paid to engage primarily in sales activity on behalf of the vendor is exempt from lobbyist registration.  In New York, the exception even extends to sales agents with contracts to represent their clients for a period longer than six months.

Absent an exception, sales employees who meet the lobbyist registration threshold in a state regulating procurement lobbying will be required to register.

August's Expert - Sarah Kovit, 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. We 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.


 

A State and Federal Communications, Inc.
Akron Roundtable Luncheon and Reception honoring
Diane Laney Fitzpatrick
[author of Home Sweet Homes]

Photographed here [left to right] are Rachel Rodgers, Zachary Koozer, David Jones,
Diane Laney Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Z. Bartz, Elaina Laikos, and Alessandra Dickos.
 
Elizabeth Z. Bartz presented a book about
Akron to Fitzpatrick.
Guests from Kent State University flooded the reception at
State and Federal Communications honoring Fitzpatrick

 

 

Former colleagues, Howard Tag, Esq. and Elizabeth Z. Bartz meet at BIO Conference in California.

 

 

Elizabeth Bartz photographed here with NBA great,
Bill Walton, [at 6'11"] formerly of the Boston Celtics.

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

 

Events

August 9-13

CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference, Anchorage, Alaska

August 13

WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC

August 18-22

NCSL Legislative Summit, Minneapolis, Minnesota

August 27

WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC

 


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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
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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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