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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

July 2015  

Anniversary for State and Federal Communications

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. More than 96 percent of U.S. Chamber members are small businesses with 100 employees or fewer.

And State and Federal Communications, Inc. is one of those businesses. More important, today we celebrate our 22nd anniversary. In that time, we have grown from two employees to 40 employees. We are considered as one of the companies in NE Ohio providing good professional jobs to the community.

I believe I write about our anniversary every July because it is an important one not only for us but for you, our clients, who keep us motivated every day to continue to bring you updated information about lobbying, political contributions, and procurement issues in the states and now almost 300 municipalities.

We have grown to meet your needs in government relations and public affairs. And we are not going to stop.

  1. 1.    Our goal in 2015 is to provide a lobbying interface to help you keep track of your activities for federal reports. In fact, it is almost completed, and we will begin our testing. It is quite amazing, and you will it easier to insure accurate filing of your LD-2 and LD-203 filings.

  2. 2.    Do you know how many times I show up in the Research Department and ask for them to add cities and counties… And they always find more to include. We know you are building facilities and offering services around the country, and these small cities and counties have ordinances affecting your activity. If you are missing one, let us know and we will look it up for you.

  3. 3.    And we are growing in more ways than one. In addition to staff, we have seven people expecting babies this quarter…Yes, you heard that right. Between July 5 and August 31, we will have six new State and Federal Communications babies. It is an exciting time for the staff.

There are times I truly miss researching updates, and I do miss preparing lobbying disclosure reports (even that pesky Wisconsin form), but I do love operating this company and making sure we are providing good benefits for the staff. I am excited when I see new cars in the parking lot or when new homes are purchased. I know they are deepening roots in the community and at State and Federal Communications. And, that, my friends is a WIN WIN for all of us.

Until next month, enjoy the holiday weekend, go to a baseball game, and enjoy the summer.

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
@elizabethbartz

Maryland Pay-to-Play Regulations Change Again

by Michael Beckett, Esq., Research Manager

New laws are bringing changes to Maryland’s pay-to-play regulations only months after major changes to disclosure requirements for lobbyist employers and persons doing public business. Senate Bill 767 modifies the reporting threshold for lobbyist employers. House Bill 769 clarifies disclosure requirements for pre-2015 contracts, allows simplified reporting for filers without any applicable contributions, and requires disclosure of donations for the benefit of covered officials and candidates. Both bills change the reporting periods and became effective June 1, 2015.   

Applicable Contributions

Lobbyist employers and companies having a contract with a state or municipal entity are required by two separate statutes to file semiannual reports disclosing political contributions. Previously, lobbyist employers had to report contributions in the cumulative amount of more than $500, while contractors had to report aggregate contributions of $500 or more. The new requirement for lobbyist employers will capture contributions of exactly $500 and mirror the disclosure threshold for contractor contributions.

Pre-2015 Contracts

Beginning January 1, 2015, statutory changes required companies with contracts valued at $200,000 or more to file an initial contribution report when the contract is awarded, disclosing contributions made in the preceding 24 months. The new law explicitly requires companies with pre-2015 contracts to file semiannual contribution reports, so long as performance on the contract continues. Initial reports are required only for contracts awarded after January 1, 2015. 

No Contribution Reporting

For contractors required to file, but without any applicable contributions to report, the disclosure statement need only name the governmental entity with which the contractor did business during the reporting period.

Donations “For the Benefit of” Applicable Recipients

Contractors must disclose contributions to officeholders and candidates in jurisdictions where the company is doing business. Moving forward, the disclosure statement must also list donations made “for the benefit of” an officeholder or candidate. This requirement is intended to cover donations to independent expenditure groups and party committees. It is not clear whether this requirement will be enforceable unless and until the State Board of Elections issues guidance as to what “for the benefit of” includes.  

Reporting Schedules

Semiannual reporting dates are changed to May 31 and November 30, matching reporting dates for registered lobbyists. This year’s remaining reporting dates have been modified to August 31 and November 30.

Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations
 

Michael Beckett, Esq., Research Manager

CANADA: Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd has released the new Lobbyists' Code of Conduct, providing additional regulation of those attempting to influence federal decision-making. Among other provisions, the new code creates a "sense of obligation" test, prohibiting a lobbyist from lobbying an official where they share a relationship close enough to create a sense of obligation. Additionally, the new code prohibits a lobbyist from providing gifts to a government official, regardless of whether or not the official is being lobbied. The code's effective date has yet to be determined; however, it is expected to take effect sometime after the summer.

CONNECTICUT: Gov. Dannel Malloy has signed a bill amending the code of ethics. Senate Bill 850, now known as Public Act 15-15, creates an additional exception to the definition of expenditure, adds to the list of who is not included in the definition of a lobbyist, and raises the threshold for lobbyist registration from $2,000 to $3,000. The new provisions are effective January 1, 2016.

INDIANA: Gov. Mike Pence signed an ethics bill to make changes in laws governing legislative ethics, lobbyist and legislative liaison reporting, and executive agency ethics. House Bill 1002 expands disclosure requirements on legislators’ statements of economic interests, requires both houses of the Legislature to adopt a code of ethics, and requires lobbyists to report the name of any legislator who is a close relative. The bill also changes post-employment restrictions for state officers, employees, and special state appointees. All provisions are effective July 1, 2015.

MONTANA: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the lower court’s ruling in Lair v. Bullock. The District Court concluded the state’s political contribution limits were unconstitutionally low. The appellate court found the lower court applied the wrong legal standard prior to permanently enjoining the enforcement of Montana’s restrictions on campaign contributions by individuals, political action committees, and political parties. The case was remanded back to the District Court to allow Montana’s political contribution limits to be tested under the new and more restrictive standard of Citizens United v. FEC. This new standard, the court stated, means “the prevention of quid pro quo corruption, or its appearance, is the only sufficiently important state interest to justify limits on campaign contributions. Before Citizens United, it was enough to show the state’s interest was simply to prevent the influence contributors of large sums have on politicians, or the appearance of such influence. No longer so.”

SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK: Lawmakers passed a resolution to strengthen county lobbying laws. Resolution 356 amends the definition of lobbying to include every person or organization retained, employed, or designated by any client to engage in lobbying before the county. The ordinance also changes the administering body of lobbying regulations to the clerk of the Legislature. The resolution becomes effective upon approval by the county executive, which is expected as early as the end of June.

 

Jurisdictions Added to our Website

The number of municipalities and regional governments our research associates track continues to grow. We now cover almost 300 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:

Richfield, Minnesota
Portsmouth, 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 2016
Lobbying Laws 204 47 24 45 30
Political Contributions 397 49 59 91 37
Procurement Lobbying 199 36 24 39 11



Pay-to-play regulation of contractor campaign contributions raises the stakes of corporate participation in political campaigns. State and Federal Communications has two quick reference charts in the Procurement Lobbying publication dedicated to cataloging these restrictions in the states and covered municipalities. The chart can be accessed by clicking on the right side of the red Procurement Lobbying banner and selecting "States with Pay-to-Play Laws” or “Municipalities with Pay-to-Play Laws” in the pop-up menu. Be sure to reference these charts before you approve a contribution, as an otherwise acceptable contribution can be trouble if given by a person doing business with the candidate’s jurisdiction.

 

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 recently became a registered lobbyist in my company’s home state.  I am also very active politically.  Are there any restrictions on my political contributions now that I am a registered lobbyist?

An individual’s status as a registered lobbyist can place additional restrictions and requirements on him or her related to his or her political contributions. Some jurisdictions place strict restrictions on a lobbyist’s ability to make contributions.  South Carolina prohibits registered lobbyists from making contributions to a candidate or anyone acting on behalf of a candidate if the lobbyist engages in lobbying the public office or public body for which the candidate is seeking election.  California has a similar prohibition, providing lobbyists may not contribute to a state candidate or officeholder, or their controlled committees, if registered to lobby the governmental agency for which the candidate seeks election or to which the officeholder belongs.  Other jurisdictions limit the amount a registered lobbyist can contribute compared to a nonregistered individual.  Registered legislative and executive agents in Massachusetts may contribute no more than $200 in the aggregate to any one candidate and such candidate’s committee during a calendar year. 

A number of jurisdictions require reporting of lobbyist contributions.  Pennsylvania has extensive registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists who make personal political contributions, requiring them to register with the state before making a personal contribution and to file reports on the same schedule as a PAC.  Maryland’s reporting requirements are not as extensive, requiring certain political contributions to be disclosed on the lobbyist’s activity report. 

When an individual becomes a registered lobbyist, he or she must review the applicable rules on his or her political contributions.  If unsure as to the requirements, please be sure to review for our website at www.stateandfed.com for up-to-date information.

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


 

While at the BIO International Convention in Philadelphia, PA, Elizabeth Z Bartz connected with BIO President and
CEO Jim Greenwood and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of Washington.


 
On June 18, 2015, we invited David Greene of NPR's Morning Edition to our office for a reception after an Akron Roundtable luncheon.  He generously spoke to many visitors from WKSU [our local NPR station] and friends of State and Federal Communications, Inc.  [photo left to right:  Amanda Rabinowitz, WKSU Reporter/Producer, and David Greene.]
[Photographs by Nikos Frazier, Social Media Intern]



State and Federal Communications employees acknowledged on their anniversary.
 

Employees receiving recognition for their longevity at State and Federal Communications, Inc. [top left to right] Elizabeth with
Nola Werren, Esq., Client Specialist - 18 years and Lisa Kot, Research Assistant - 1 year; [lower left to right] Elizabeth
with Nicolette Koozer - 14 years and Myra Cottrill, Esq. - 7 years.  Congratulations.

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

 

Events

July 3, 2015 Washington Nationals Game, Washington, DC
July 7-8, 2015 Wal-Mart Manufacturing Summit, Bentonville, Arkansas
July 12-15, 2015 CSG MLC Annual Meeting, Bismarck, North Dakota
July 13, 2015 WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC
July 23-26, 2015 NGA Summer Meeting, Greenbrier, West Virginia
July 27, 2015 WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC
August 4, 2015 Astellas National Women's Executive Day, Akron, Ohio
August 3-7, 2015 NCSL Legislative Summit, Seattle, Washington
 

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State and Federal Communications, Inc. | Courtyard Square | 80 South Summit St., Suite 100 | Akron, OH 44308 |
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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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