January 25, 2024 •
Q: I need to lobby on the municipal level, but I’m registered with the state. Am I covered? A: It will depend on the state, but you might not be covered. Some states, including Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and New York, […]
Q: I need to lobby on the municipal level, but I’m registered with the state. Am I covered?
A: It will depend on the state, but you might not be covered. Some states, including Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and New York, to name just a few, have lobbying laws covering both state and local governments. If you are registered in such a state, however, that does not necessarily end the analysis.
Even in states where state lobbying laws apply locally, you may still have local obligations. New York state law requires registration if you lobby locally and otherwise meet the registration requirements, but New York City has its own registration regime you will be required to follow, potentially requiring registration at both the state and local level. Illinois lobbying law covers local governments as well, but includes a carve out for lobbying in Chicago. Lobbying in Chicago requires registration with the city, but not with the state.
Whether you are or are not in a state where the lobbying laws apply locally, you will need to verify whether the city or county you are contacting has its own lobbying law. Even if it does not, be aware there may be other requirements, such as visitor logs, with which you will still need to comply.
Finally, be aware some local agencies, particularly those covering large metro areas, have their own lobbying laws as well, so registration with the city or county still may not cover your contacts with those agencies. For instance, Broward County Public Schools and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) have adopted lobbying provisions separate from those of the counties in which they are located.
It is safest to always assume your government outreach, regardless of the level of your interaction, is covered by a lobbying law until you confirm otherwise.
Further information about the lobbying laws in hundreds of cities, counties, and local agencies can be found in the Lobbying Compliance Laws section of the State and Federal Communications website.
May 12, 2023 •
Q: Can we pay our lobbyists a bonus or success fee? A: In most states, no. An overwhelming majority of states have banned payments to lobbyists as a result of, or based on some way upon, the lobbyist’s success in […]
Q: Can we pay our lobbyists a bonus or success fee?
A: In most states, no. An overwhelming majority of states have banned payments to lobbyists as a result of, or based on some way upon, the lobbyist’s success in achieving a specific governmental action. Thus, as a practice, it is best to pay your lobbyists a straight salary or simple monthly retainer. However, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have not enacted contingency fee bans.
An important aspect of contingency fee bans to consider is their effect on staff selling to state governments. Many states require those selling to the state to register as lobbyists in some circumstances. Should registration as a lobbyist be required, they will then be subject to those same contingency fee bans, which can be problematic given most salespeople are paid commissions on successfully completed sales. Thankfully, many states have recognized this reality and have carved out an exception for bona fide commissioned salespeople, either allowing them to avoid the registration requirement or, if they do register, the ban on receiving commissions. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the rules regarding lobbyist registration and contingency fees as applied to salespeople so you can plan accordingly.
More information about contingency fees as applied to lobbyists can be found in the Contingency Lobbying section of the Lobbying Compliance Guidebook on the State and Federal Communications website. Information about registration requirements for procurement lobbying and contingency fee information specific to salespeople can be found in the Procurement Lobbying Compliance Guidebook.
July 7, 2022 •
Question: I am hiring an outside lobbying firm soon. What sorts of compliance issues should I be watching for? Answer: You no doubt have a list of criteria you use when evaluating an outside firm’s ability to advocate for your […]
Question: I am hiring an outside lobbying firm soon. What sorts of compliance issues should I be watching for?
Answer: You no doubt have a list of criteria you use when evaluating an outside firm’s ability to advocate for your company, but there are other issues you should be looking for.
Many lobbyists are former government officials and staffers, which means they are likely subject to revolving door provisions. While those restrictions will have expired for the majority of lobbyists if there is a new hire at the firm they may still be subject to time or subject matter restrictions and unable to lobby on your behalf. Revolving door restrictions can be a general ban on any lobbying in that jurisdiction, a ban specific to a particular issue in which the former government employee was heavily involved, or a ban only on lobbying their former government agency. If your firm is recommending a lobbyist who recently left government employment, you will want to confirm the lobbyist has no restrictions that will affect their work.
You will also want to ensure the firm is properly filing required registrations and reports. This information is publicly available on state websites, so it is not difficult to determine if the firm is meeting its obligations. Look for reports that are past due and reports that were filed after the due date. This is especially critical if you are going to be relying on the firm to file your company’s principal reports for you.
Finally, search the state’s website for fines, penalties, and reprimands issued to the firm. Again, your company’s reputation, both with the public and with the government officials contacted, will be tied to the firm.
More information about these topics can be found in the Lobbying Compliance Guidebook on the State and Federal Communications subscriber website. Specifically, information regarding revolving door restrictions can be found in the Important Features of the Law section, report due date information can be found in the Reports Required section, and the Contact Information section has links to state ethics websites.
April 13, 2022 •
Meet John Cozine, Esq., Associate Director, Compliance Services! What are your areas of expertise? I’ve done it all in my time here, but most of my work focuses on lobbyist registration and reporting, gifting questions, procurement lobbying, and revolving door […]
Meet John Cozine, Esq., Associate Director, Compliance Services!
What are your areas of expertise?
I’ve done it all in my time here, but most of my work focuses on lobbyist registration and reporting, gifting questions, procurement lobbying, and revolving door issues.
How many years of experience do you have at State and Federal Communications?
More than 16 years.
How do you help our clients?
I’m the primary point of contact for many of our clients, so they frequently come to me first with questions. I either answer their questions or connect them with the appropriate Manager who can assist them. As the person in charge of the Compliance Department I ensure all of our clients’ filings are made on time so they can stay out of the newspapers.
October 8, 2013 •
State key dates and session information added
State Key Dates and Legislative Sessions for 2014 are now available on State and Federal Communications’ website.
The Key Dates represent registration and reporting dates for those involved in lobbying and election and reporting dates for campaign finance.
September 23, 2013 •
Ordinance replaces unenforced state law on local level
City Council passed an ordinance creating registration and reporting requirements for organizations involved in making independent expenditures. Organizations supporting or opposing any candidate for mayor, alderperson, or municipal judge are required to register with the city clerk upon accepting contributions made for, incurring obligations for, or making independent expenditures exceeding $25 in the aggregate during a calendar year. Such organizations are also required to file reports as required by Wisconsin Statutes.
The ordinance is meant to take the place of a provision no longer enforced by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) after it reached a settlement in a suit filed by two advocacy groups. As such, the ordinance is ripe for challenge on the same grounds as the original GAB rule was challenged.
Photo of the Madison skyline by Patrick43470 on Wikimedia Commons.
September 23, 2013 •
Changes would expand scope
The city is seeking to upgrade the city’s ethics code. Several changes have been proposed, including expanded penalties for violations, expanding the scope to cover people, adding a revolving door provision, and increasing the specificity of the gift definition.
Once finalized, approval by city council is expected early next year.
Photo of Spokane by Mark Wagner on Wikimedia Commons.
September 20, 2013 •
Election goes forward despite Thompson’s concession
Democratic mayoral candidate William Thompson conceded and threw his support behind leading vote-getter and fellow Democrat Bill de Blasio.
However, because Thompson failed to withdraw from the race by the September 13 deadline, the mayoral runoff will continue to appear on the runoff ballot.
The runoff election is set for October 1, 2013.
De Blasio will face Republican Joe Lhota in the November 5 general election.
Photo of the New York City skyline by AngMoKio on Wikimedia Commons.
September 20, 2013 •
Fills vacancy in 78th House District Seat
January 28, 2014 has been set as the date of a special election for the vacant 78th House District seat.
Local committee members from each party will select the nominees in conjunction with the state party.
As a result, there will be no primary election.
September 20, 2013 •
Fills vacancy in 21st Assembly District
Gov. Scott Walker has called a special election to fill a vacancy in the 21st Assembly District.
The election will be held November 19, 2013.
If more than one candidate files for the seat, a primary election will be held October 22, 2013.
September 11, 2013 •
Legislation would close “loophole” in state law
Several members of city council announced the introduction of legislation to reform independent expenditures made in the city. The legislation would close a “loophole” in state campaign finance law allowing limited liability companies to give at the individual aggregate contribution limit of $150,000 instead of the corporate aggregate limit of $5,000. Such a change would only apply to city elections.
The legislation would also require the disclosure of the top donors to independent expenditure communications.
Finally, the legislation would force any independent expenditure communication to inform voters the communication was not subject to the city’s campaign finance laws.
Photo of the New York City Hall by Momos on Wikipedia.
August 29, 2013 •
Laws were found to be unenforceable
The DuPage County Board repealed its pay-to-play provisions after learning from the state’s attorney’s office the provisions were unenforceable. As a non-home rule county, the county did not have the power to act on limiting campaign contributions because it was not specifically granted that power by the state legislature.
The changes were enacted as part of an otherwise minor update to the county’s ethics code. Provisions requiring disclosure of campaign contributions by contractors remain in place.
August 23, 2013 •
Session to address vetoed bills
Governor Pat McCrory has issued a proclamation calling for a special session to convene at noon on September 3, 2013.
However, if a majority of legislators write declaring they do not want to meet, no session will occur.
The purpose of the session is to consider overriding the governor’s vetoes.
August 21, 2013 •
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.