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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

February 2015  

Go Red for Women -
No Time Better Than Now to Get Involved

This year, John Chames and I agreed to co-chair the 2015 Circle of Red and Men Go Red campaigns for the American Heart Association in Akron. February 6th is National Wear Red Day.

Many are not aware cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of women. Go Red For Women’s mission is to save the lives of women – wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and friends – by creating awareness and helping to educate the women in our lives.  As a leader in the Greater Akron community we have been asking for support of this mission.

As a member of the State and Federal Communications Community, we are looking to you to also help us bring this critical issue to light in your community. Wherever you live, consider making a contribution to become members of Men Go Red and the Circle of Red to support the 2015 Go Red For Women Campaign. Find more information at www.goredforwomen.org.

We have attended this event year after year and we continue to be inspired by the sea of women and men proudly displaying their red, as well as the heartfelt stories of women in our community who have been touched by cardiovascular disease. We hope that you will join us as members of the Circle of Red and Men Go Red campaigns.  We can all make a difference.

Until next month, remember it is not just a man’s disease. One out of three women die of heart disease and stroke. And, it can be prevented.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
@elizabethbartz

Massachusetts Update Campaign Finance Laws

by George Ticoras, Esq., Research Associate

Due to passage of House Bill 4366 in 2014, this year brings many changes to Massachusetts’ campaign finance laws. These changes include increased contribution limits and new reporting requirements.

Effective January 1, 2015, the amount individuals can contribute to political candidates doubled. Individuals may now make contributions of $1,000 per calendar year to any candidate.

Another change involves the reporting of campaign activity using the depository reporting system. Candidates and committees required to use the depository reporting system include statewide office candidates, county and district office candidates, state committees of political parties, state political action committees (PACs), and state people's committees. Candidates and committees in the depository reporting system arrange for their financial institutions to file twice-monthly reports with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance listing the candidate’s or committee’s total monthly deposits and providing detailed information about the committee's expenditures. In addition, these candidates and committees must file twice-monthly reports of contribution information with detailed monthly reports for any reimbursement, subvendor, or credit card payments made by the committee. These candidates and committees are also responsible for filing year-end summary reports.

State PACs, other than independent expenditure PACs, must immediately designate a financial institution as a depository for the campaign funds of the political committee upon the organization of the political committee. The financial institution must be:

  • A national bank, federal savings bank, federal savings and loan association, or federal credit union, provided the bank, association, or credit union transacts business in the commonwealth and has its main office or a branch office in the commonwealth; or

  • A trust company, credit union, co-operative bank, or savings bank, provided the company, credit union, or bank is organized and exists under the laws of the commonwealth or any other state or otherwise may transact business in the commonwealth and has its main office or a branch office in the commonwealth.

Within three business days of a designation of a committee’s depository, the treasurer of a political committee must file a certificate of appointment. The certificate of appointment reflecting the financial institution’s agreement to comply must also be signed by an authorized employee of the financial institution.

Local PACs in the state do not follow the depository reporting system.

Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations

by John Cozine, Esq., Research Manager

ALBERTA, CANADA: Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis introduced the Alberta Accountability Act to ensure high ethical standards and to enhance accountability on behalf of elected officials and public servants. Among other changes, the legislation revises post-employment restrictions, increases consistency in conflict of interest rules, clarifies gift rules, eliminates the majority of sole-source contracts, and expands the authority for the Alberta Ethics Commissioner. The act passed the House, received royal assent, and came into force on December 17, 2014.

ARIZONA: On December 5, a federal judge declared the state’s definition of political committee “vague, overbroad, and consequently unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment.” In Galassini v. Town of Fountain Hills, Senior District Judge James A. Teilborg of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, relied on his prior determination finding A.R.S. §16-901(19) unconstitutional. In 2011, Gina Galassini emailed 23 friends and neighbors to organize a rally opposing a bond proposal in the town of Fountain Hills. The town clerk informed Galassini her planned rally would require she file a statement of organization before accepting contributions, making expenditures, distributing literature, or circulating petitions. However, Galassini was still able to hold her rally without registering after the District Court issued a preliminary injunction and the town of Fountain Hills agreed to not enforce the campaign finance laws.

FEDERAL: On December 16, 2014, President Obama signed the omnibus bill, House Resolution 83, into law. Included in the bill was an amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 allowing additional contributions to political parties for presidential nominating conventions, for election recounts and other legal proceedings, and for costs for party headquarters. An additional provision of the bill prohibits the federal government from recommending or requiring any entity submitting an offer for a federal contract to disclose, as a condition of submitting an offer, any political contribution, expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication by the offeror, its officers or directors, or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries.

MONTANA: On December 22, the Commissioner of Political Practices’ proposed rule amendment increasing the threshold amount of payment triggering lobbyist registration to $2,500 for 2015 and 2016 was adopted. The payment threshold is adjusted by an inflation factor determined by the commissioner. The previous threshold amount was $2,450 for the calendar years 2013 and 2014.

VERMONT: The Office of the Secretary State announced lobbying registration and reporting in Vermont is going digital. Beginning with the 2015-2016 biennium, registration and reporting will be accomplished solely through a new online management system. Lobbyist disclosure reports due on January 25, 2015, covering the period from July 1 to December 31, 2014, will be the last paper filings accepted. The online system will be available for use no later than January 1, 2015

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.

Maui County, Hawaii

Washington County, Oregon

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 2016
Lobbying Laws 39 9 3 0 0
Political Contributions 74 13 2 0 0
Procurement Lobbying 55 11 2 0 0


Determining what law applies to the county or city you are researching can be difficult. State and Federal Communications takes the confusion out of the process. Our Applicable Law section, found in all of our publications, outlines the laws cited in the entry you are viewing. Additionally, in county and city entries, if a state law applies, it will be listed and cited to in addition to any applicable local laws. The only exception would be where a local law trumps the state law, rendering the state law irrelevant. Finally, our lobbying entries, under the Registration section, specifically address whether state lobbying laws apply to local jurisdictions. Thus, you will always know the universe of laws you are dealing with.

ASK THE EXPERTS - Indexing of Contribution Limits

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.

With the start of the New Year, are there any changes I should be aware of in political contribution limits?

Aside from changes as a result of new legislation, the most common adjustment of contribution limits is indexing for inflation.  Typically, adjustments are made biennially for inflation according to the Consumer Price Index.  The Consumer Price Index is calculated by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

This concept was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo (1976).  The court allowed federal contribution limits to be adjusted upwards at the beginning of each calendar year by the average percentage rise in the Consumer Price Index for the 12 preceding months.

The principal behind this is quite simple:  it is based on the recognition that the cost of campaigning steadily increases each year based on the increase to cost of living.  Campaign fliers, mailers, yard signs, and media buys do not cost the same in 2013 as they do in 2015.

This year, California adjusted its contribution limits for the 2015-2016 biennium.  In doing so, corporate contributions limits for general assembly candidates increased from $4,100 per election to $4,200.  Washington adjusts its limits in even-numbered years, so the 2014 corporate contribution limit of $950 per election for state legislative candidates will remain the same for 2015.   Illinois adjusts its limits in odd-numbered years, so the 2014 corporate contribution limit of $10,500 per election cycle for legislative candidates will increase to $10,800.

Finally, the indexing of contribution limits usually results from amendments to a state’s administrative code as opposed to its statute.  In order to ensure compliance, a contributor should review both of these sources.

 February's Expert - Nola Werren, Esq., Client Specialist


 

SGAC President Katrina Iserman presenting Elizabeth Z. Bartz
with SGAC Advanced Certificate [First Year].

State and Federal Communications employees receive anniversary gifts.
Each month, Elizabeth celebrates the anniversaries of her employees.
Shown here [left] is Elizabeth Z. Bartz, president and CEO, with the Research Manager, John Cozine, Esq. and [right] with Susan Stofka, Compliance Assistant, who have both been with State and Federal Communications, Inc. for nine years.

Stock the Sleigh
by Sarah Gray,
Compliance Assistant Coordinator

In December, State and Federal Communications, Inc. held its annual “Stock the Sleigh” for a worthy charity in our local community. This year the company decided to help an organization in Summit County named CORE Furniture Bank. According to their website; CORE is a broad based, non-profit, collaborative community initiative that assists families-in-need by seeking donations of used furniture and household items; and then re-donating them to these families while serving them in a warm, welcoming and dignified manner. The staff collected items such as bed sheets, blankets, towels, and dishes, and on December 19, we delivered the items to the warehouse. As I dropped the items off with the volunteers, I was overwhelmed by their graciousness and gratitude of our delivery.

 

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

 

Events

February 3-6 PAC Grassroots Conference, Key West, Florida
February 9 WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC
February 20-22

NGA Winter Meeting, Washington, DC

February 23 WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC
February 23-27 PAC National Conference, Orlando, Florida
March 4 Ohio Birthday Party, 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
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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