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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

September 2014  

Bucket of States to Still Visit

I figured it is time to list the states I still need to visit. In this government relations industry, we have the opportunity to go to many states. And, with two meetings in Anchorage, many of our colleagues have seen them all from Alabama to Wyoming.

I started a list a year ago when Sen. Bruce Starr from Oregon was elected president of NCSL and had scheduled an executive committee meeting. But, alas, I was unable to attend, so it remains on the list.

Here is a list of the states. What are your outstanding ones? And, if any of you have Ohio on that list, you need to call me to attend any of a number sporting events or a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I personally have season tickets to the home games of both the University of Akron and Kent State University…Now, those are hot teams!

Back to the subject. I am now down to the final seven (7) and know in 2015 one will be knocked off the list because of CSG’s Midwest Legislative Conference.

  1. Alabama — Lost a chance in 2013 when Kent State University was in the football playoffs but could not get back in time for business meetings.

  2. Hawaii — Big surprise this is still on my list.

  3. Montana — Does this state still not have a speed limit? That’s what David Letterman says.

  4. North Dakota — Ding, ding, ding…Off the list in 2015.

  5. Oregon — Hmm. Maybe a trip to Nike is in order.

  6. South Dakota — Could I knock off this state after MLC next year?

  7. Wyoming — I guess we have to go to Jackson Hole.

It is possible. It is not a race…just a goal to finish.

Until next month, put your list together of states still left to see.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
@elizabethbartz

San Francisco Implements New Lobbying Ordinance
for Greater Disclosure

by Michael Beckett, Esq. Research Associate

The city and county of San Francisco has new lobbying requirements following amendments to the city’s lobbyist ordinance and regulations. Ordinance 130374 expands the definition of lobbyist and requires random audits of lobbying reports. The lobbying exemption for contractors and their attorneys has now been limited to in-house officers and employees. Meeting the definition of a lobbyist now depends on the number of compensated contacts with covered officials rather than the level of compensation received. Outside consultants communicating with public officials regarding contract bidding and negotiating are subject to registration and reporting requirements.

New Regulations

Two days after the July 26 effective date, the Ethics Commission approved regulations to supplement the new ordinance and provide further guidance on issues such as the registration threshold and compensation reporting. The regulations are scheduled to become effective on September 26, 2014.

An in-house lobbyist will need to register if making five or more compensated lobbying contacts in a calendar month with city officers on behalf of his or her employer. A contract lobbyist needs to register after making even one lobbying contact on behalf of a client. A “contact” includes, but is not limited to, an in-person meeting, telephone call, video conference, letter, fax, email, and text message. Examples included in the new regulations explain a single email sent to five public officials could qualify as five contacts and require registration as a lobbyist.

Developer and Permit Consultant Disclosures

Developers of major city real estate projects must file reports with the Ethics Commission disclosing donations of $5,000 or more to nonprofit entities if those nonprofits lobby regarding the developers’ project.

Beginning January 1, 2015, permit consultants who are compensated to provide permit consulting on a major project or a minor project will be required to register and report with the commission. A permit consultant deciding to lobby public officials may register and report as a lobbyist in addition to filing quarterly reports as a permit consultant. Alternatively, the consultant may register as a lobbyist and only file lobbying reports disclosing both lobbying and permit consulting activity.

Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations
 

by John Cozine, Esq., Research Manager 

CANADA: The Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying enhanced the lobbyist registration system following website maintenance on July 5, 2014. The system updates will provide lobbyists with a late notification when monthly communication reports are not filed on time. In addition, the system will make reporting easier by excluding government institutions without a designated public officeholder. Previous website updates have included a flowchart to help lobbyists determine if they need to register and a page with frequently asked questions regarding definitions and registration requirements.

DELAWARE: On July 22, 2014, Gov. Jack Markell signed several bills amending the state’s campaign finance and lobbying laws. Senate Bill 187 allows political committees to donate prohibited contributions to certain charitable organizations. House Bill 300 protects whistleblowers from employer retaliation for reporting campaign finance violations or participating in the investigation of such violations. Both Senate Bill 187 and House Bill 300 became effective upon the governor's signature. House Bill 301 requires contributions given from a joint account, whether by check, debit card, or credit card, to be attributed to the signator of the contribution. Senate Bill 186 requires entities making contributions of more than $100 to disclose the name and address of one responsible party. A responsible party, as defined by the bill, is an individual who exercises control over the entity. House Bill 301 and Senate Bill 186 are effective January 1, 2015. Also effective January 1, 2015, is House Bill 306, which imposes late filing fees on lobbyists who file late reports. A fee of $25 will be assessed for the first day and $10 for each subsequent day a lobbyist report is delinquent. The maximum late fee allowable is $100. The Public Integrity Commission may waive such late filing fees if it determines circumstances make imposition of the fee inappropriate.

HAWAII: Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2629 on Monday, July 7, 2014, amending section 97-3 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. Effective upon signing, registered lobbyists, lobbyist employers, and certain individuals became required to file statements of expenditures with the state Ethics Commission within 30 days of adjournment sine die of any special session of the Legislature. Individuals who are not lobbyists or lobbyist employers must only file if spending $750 or more in any six-month period for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action or a ballot issue by communicating with public officials or engaging in grassroots activity. The report must cover the period from May 1 through adjournment sine die of the special session and applies to and includes only those expenditures and contributions relating to legislative action considered during said special session. The special report is in addition to, but does not take the place of, all other reporting requirements.

KENTUCKY: New restrictions on legislative lobbying expenditures took effect Monday, July 14, 2014. House Bill 28 included a "no cup of coffee rule" to eliminate the gift exception allowing legislative lobbyists to spend $100 on food and beverage for a legislator. Legislative lobbyists and their employers are now also prohibited from providing out-of-state transportation or lodging for legislators. Employers of legislative lobbyists are prohibited from making campaign contributions during a regular legislative session and are required to disclose the cost of advertising supporting or opposing legislation.

MASSACHUSETTS: On January 1, 2015, the limit for individuals making contributions to state candidates increases from $500 to $1,000 due to a new campaign finance bill signed by Gov. Deval Patrick. Among the many changes in House Bill 4366, signed on August 1, are new reporting requirements for political committees or other entities making independent expenditures, new disclosure requirements for certain types of political advertising, and the creation of a campaign finance and disclosure task force.

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:

Alameda County, California

Canton, Ohio

Clackamas County, Oregon

Jackson County, Oregon

Sparks, Nevada


 

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 297 44 34 150 0
Political Contributions 583 46 63 254 0
Procurement Lobbying 419 49 46 190 0


W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

State and Federal Communications has continued to add new cities and counties to our website. While not all jurisdictions have extensive lobbying, gift, campaign finance, or procurement laws, it is as important to know there are no relevant laws as it is to know there are. With that in mind, we have begun including abridged entries for cities and counties with either limited governmental ethics laws or no governmental ethics laws.  These entries will appear in all three publications that cover the United States. This approach allows us to bring you a greater number of jurisdictions while still providing you the knowledge critical to making important decisions on lobbyist registration, gifts to officials, and political contributions.

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.

I provided a state legislator with a permissible gift.  I will be sure to include it on my next report.  Is there anything else I need to know regarding proper disclosure of this expenditure?

There are sometimes additional disclosure requirements related to an expenditure on a covered state official or employee.  You should be sure to consider two possibilities: a notification to the official or a supplemental report in addition to your routine lobbying report.

A number of states have a notification requirement if you are going to list the name of a covered public official on your lobbying report.  For example, Illinois actually requires two notifications.  You must provide the official with a contemporaneous notification at the time of the expenditure, and a post- notification is required within 30 days after the report has been filed.  In other jurisdictions, the notification is related to whether you must itemize the expenditure or list the official’s name on your report.  In Arkansas, you must list the state official’s name if payment for food (including beverages), lodging, or travel is in excess of $40.  Once the official is named on your report, you must provide him or her with a notification of this at least seven working days prior to the filing of your report.  Pennsylvania imposes a yearly aggregate threshold on the listing of an official on the principal’s lobbying report and corresponding required notification.  This threshold is $250 per calendar year for gifts and $650 per calendar year for transportation, lodging, and/or hospitality (which includes food and beverage).  Please keep in mind that notifications are not filed with the state, but sent to the official named on your report.

Some jurisdictions require an additional report to be filed with the state when making certain permissible expenditures.  For example, if you invite all members of a Maryland legislative unit to a meal or reception, you must extend a written invitation to all members of the legislative unit and register the meal or reception with the Maryland Department of Legislative Services at least five days before the date of the meal or reception.  You must then report the details of the meal or reception to the Maryland Ethics Commission within 14 days after the date of the meal or reception.  In Indiana, you must file a report within 15 days if you make a gift or gifts to a legislative person if the value of the gift or gifts equals $50 or more in one day or together totals more than $250 in a reporting year.

Proper disclosure of a permissible expenditure can include additional steps.  Be sure to check with your jurisdiction’s ethics agency to ensure all disclosure requirements are met.

 

September's Expert - James Warner, Esq., Sr. Compliance Associate

 

 

Coming Soon on

 

 

State and Federal Communications, Inc. introduces the U.S. State House series. 
Join this historical journey in discovering our country as we tour the
nation’s state capital buildings.
Each week, a new state house will be posted on our blog with links to virtual tours, information on the stunning architecture, and a peek at unique art and monuments throughout the building. 

 


 

Elizabeth Z. Bartz with David Gergen at the
Council of State Governemtns [CSG] Conference
in Anchorage, Alaska.
 
Elizabeth Z. Bartz with United Way's Shirley Smith
at the Akron Urban League.

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

 

Events

September 5

Advocacy Leaders Network, Washington, DC

September 10

WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC

September 10

State and Federal at the Washington Nationals vs Atlanta Braves game, DC

September 11-12 PLI Corporate Political Activities, Washington, DC
September 19 Investiture of Dr. Scarborough, University of Akron, Akron, OH
September 24

WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC

September 29-
October 1

PAC State and Local Government Relations Conference, Old Town, Alexandria, VA

 


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Contact us to learn how conveniently our services will allow you to say "I Comply" for your compliance activities.

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