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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

September 2015  

Budget Now For Great Public Affairs Council Programs

Many of you are working on your 2016 budgets, and I would suggest a few of the Public Affairs Council conferences be included to help with your government relations work.

If you have some funds left for 2015, attend the State and Local Government Relations conference from September 23-25 at the Hilton Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia. This is the absolute best 101 program to learn about state and local government relations. We have used this as a stepping-stone to all first-year staff to learn more about the subject.

The premiere conferences offered by the Council are in 2016—National Grassroots Conference, January 25-28 in Orlando, and the National PAC Conference in Miami from March 7-10. Yes, it is winter, and yes, they are in Florida. However, set that aside and think about the sessions where discussions are held about:

  1. Case studies involving grassroots programs;

  2. Branding your grassroots program;

  3. Educating the members of your grassroots or PAC programs;

  4. Ethics, Gift Rules, and Legal Guidance (my favorite session);

  5. Engaging Senior Executives;

  6. Operating a Successful PAC;

  7. Communicating Across Generations;

  8. Hosting a Candidate Fundraiser;

  9. Auditing and Assessing Your PAC; and

  10. Setting a Course for Your Professional Development.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I serve on the PAC Board of Directors (but there are 160 of us, so no one really notices me) and I am on the Advisory Committee for both of the 2016 conferences…But, that should show my commitment to the Council and how much I treasure and value its contributions to the public affairs industry.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call. I would be happy to discuss the value and importance.

Until next month, remember professional development is something you should always push for to help you with your career.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Z. Bartz

President and CEO
@elizabethbartz

Maine Vetoes Are Too Late

by George Ticoras, Esq., Research Associate

On August 6, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued an opinion finding 65 bills from the 2015 legislative session were vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage too late to prevent the legislation from taking effect. The court found the bills were beyond the 10-day period provided for gubernatorial objection and became law 90 days after the sine die adjournment of the Legislature, unless enacted earlier as emergency legislation.

Initially, the Legislature was to adjourn sine die on June 17 but extended its session until June 23. On June 23, the Legislature again voted to extend its session for another five legislative days. On June 26, the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House sent an email to all members of the Legislature announcing the intention to meet on June 30, July 1, and July 16.

When the Legislature adjourned on June 30, 81 bills, still within the 10-day veto period, awaited action by the governor. Instead of returning any of the 81 bills within the 10-day period, the governor waited and returned 65 of the bills with vetoes on July 16, the next date on which the Legislature met.

LePage believed he had the constitutional authority to present the bills when the Legislature next convened for more than three days. The Legislature, through its leadership, rejected the governor’s rationale and announced the 65 bills had become law because the bills were returned outside of the 10-day window.

Following the Legislature’s adjournment sine die on July 16, the governor formally sought the Supreme Judicial Court’s advice on the issue pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Maine Constitution. The court found temporary adjournments of the Legislature (with or without return dates and regardless of duration) do not prevent governors from returning bills within the constitutionally required 10-day window. The opinion was unanimous.

Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations 

Michael Beckett, Esq., Research Manager

CANADA: Parliament was dissolved on August 2, 2015, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called for federal elections to take place on October 19, 2015. Calling for an election during the summer is an unusual move in Canadian politics, creating the longest campaign period since 1874. Some view it as a move to ensure Harper's Conservative Party stays in power as it will likely be the only party to have raised enough money to spend the maximum amount allowed by law. The Conservative Party has been in power since 2006, winning two elections thereafter and gaining a majority in the House of Commons in 2011.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: City Council has passed an amendment to the city ethics code related to enforcement. The amendment requires the Office of the Legislative Inspector General (OLIG) to deliver all evidence collected during an investigation to the Board of Ethics before the board decides if city ethics rules have been violated. This would include the names and addresses of complainants and confidential testimony. As the board will provide collected evidence to the accused, there is concern the change will have a chilling effect on potential whistleblowers, leave witnesses open to possible retaliation, and weaken the OLIG’s ability to enforce the ethics ordinance.

CALIFORNIA: The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has issued an updated lobbying manual for the first time in over five years. The manual provides updated guidance and new examples for staying in compliance with the provisions of the Political Reform Act. For example, the manual prohibits lobbyist gift splitting and makes clear obtaining applications for tax credits is not supporting or opposing the drafting of state agency rules, regulations, or rate-making proceedings and is not influencing administrative or legislative action. A business entity is not required to file lobbying reports for providing assistance with obtaining the California Competes Tax Credit through the Office of Business and Economic Development to other business entities.

OREGON: Effective January 1, 2016, admission provided to or the cost of food or beverage consumed by a public official, a relative of the public official accompanying the public official, a member of the household of the public official accompanying the public official, or a staff member of the public official accompanying the public official at a reception, meal, or meeting held by an organization when the public official represents state government, local government, or a special government body will not be considered a gift.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: The Ethics Commission has unanimously approved a ballot measure requiring expenditure lobbyists to register and report city and county lobbying activity. The measure will appear on the city's November 3, 2015, ballot. The measure creates a new category of lobbyists, termed expenditure lobbyists, defined in the measure as organizations who employ lobbyists to influence city officials. The measure imposes a registration threshold of $2,500 or more in a calendar month spent soliciting, requesting, or urging other persons to communicate directly with a city official. If approved by voters in the November election, the measure would become operative February 1, 2016.

Jurisdiction 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 jurisdiction is:

Yuma, Arizona

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 226 47 32 71 74
Political Contributions 456 50 74 151 152
Procurement Lobbying 224 38 47 57 39

W  E  B  S  I  T  E      T  I  P

Every month subscribers to the State and Federal Communications website receive the Summary of Changes, which is a list of all of the changes and additions made to the website in the course of the prior month. In all publications, a year’s worth of Summary of Changes can be accessed by clicking on the "Summary of Changes" link on the left-hand side of the entry’s website page. If any of the Key Dates have been changed, the phrase “Key Dates for 2015 have been updated” will appear in the jurisdiction’s summary. This is an easy way to check for additional filing requirements resulting from special elections and special legislative sessions.

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 would like to contribute to political candidates in my state, but my company is a state vendor. Are there laws prohibiting me from making personal contributions?

Whether an employee of a state vendor may contribute to political candidates varies widely based on jurisdiction. The answer may depend on the employee’s role in his or her company, as well as the position held by the candidate receiving the contribution.

Ohio, for example, prohibits a partner, shareholder, administrator, executor, or trustee of a state vendor from making personal contributions exceeding $1,000 to the public official with ultimate responsibility for awarding a contract during the contribution blackout period if the contract is not competitively bid. In this instance, the prohibition depends both on the title of the employee, as well as the position of the public officer receiving the contribution.

Other states prohibit contributions for contracts in certain industries. Florida prohibits individuals or firms providing legal or financial advisory assistance to the Division of Bond Finance of the State Board of Administration from making contributions to any candidate for governor or for a Cabinet position in Florida, during the contribution blackout period.

Connecticut goes so far as to prohibit certain state vendor employees from contributing to candidates, even if the employees are located out of state. For example, employees of a state vendor with the title of treasurer or executive vice president may not contribute to restricted Connecticut candidates, even if they work in another state for their company. Spouses and dependent children over age 18 of restricted employees are also prohibited from contributing.

Each jurisdiction structures its pay-to-play restrictions differently. Be sure to review the campaign finance law for the state in which you plan to contribute to determine if there are restrictions on state vendor employees or their family members.

September's Expert - Jennifer Zona, Esq., Compliance Associate


 

The Summer Interns of 2015
We had the honor of having interns from various Ohio schools work in our office this summer.  They did a variety of projects, attended many local business events, participated in Leadership Akron's Intern Edge,volunteered at the United Way Day of Action and various festival workshops in addition to their writing, research, and social media productions. They are paid interns preparing to be tomorrow's leaders.

 

Front row:  Sophia Avouris [Kent State University], David Jones [Stark State University], Elizabeth Scozzaro [Baldwin Wallace College]; back row: Costa Janos [The Ohio State University], Nikos Frazier [Kent State University], and David Trujillo [University of Akron].


 

State and Federal Communications, Inc.
at NCSL Legislative Forum

The 2015 NCSL Conference held in beautiful Seattle, WA had events held at a variety of venues.  Our team staffed our exhibit booth and assisted clients with all of their compliance questions throughout the conference.  We are always glad to help out. 
Our team included: [front row left to right] Nola Werren, Esq., Monica Dolenc, and Elizabeth Z. Bartz
[back row left to right] Renold Koozer, Dan Frydl, Rebecca South, and John Chames.
 

 

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

 

Events

September 9 Washington Nationals Baseball Game, Washington, DC
September 9-11 Ohio Chamber of Commerce Policy Conference, Salt Fork State Park, OH
September 10-11 PLI Seminar, Washington, DC
September 15 WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC
September 23-25 PAC State and Local Government Relations Conference, Alexandria, VA
September 25 Advocacy Leaders Network, Washington, DC
September 29 WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC
September 28 Washington Nationals Baseball with NCSL, 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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