March 25, 2013 •
Spring Break for Legislators
Some legislators head home to recharge
As students from grade school to grad school spend the week away from their studies, members of Congress and state legislatures are also taking time away from contentious issues and floor debates for a spring break of their own. The United States Congress is taking two weeks off to return home.
The legislatures in Alabama, California, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are also in recess this week and, in some cases, next week as well. New York is scheduled to be in its yearly Passover and Easter recess, but budget wrangling is delaying the start of the break.
A handful of states have already completed their spring recess, and Nebraska has a recess scheduled for April.
March 6, 2013 •
Florida Senate Passes Ethics Package
Bills were priorities of Senate President
On the first day of the 2013 legislative session the Florida Senate unanimously passed ethics reform bills.
The bills add revolving door provisions, increase the responsibilities of the ethics commission, and require financial disclosure reports to be posted online.
The reform package now moves to the House, where somewhat different versions of the legislation are already under consideration.
January 15, 2013 •
Legislative Sessions to Watch
This week we see the first day of session for the following legislatures:
Monday, January 14, 2013
Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
October 22, 2012 •
Appellate Court Enjoins Puerto Rico Campaign Finance Provisions
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on October 19, 2012 ordered the district court to enjoin Puerto Rico from enforcing provisions of Law 222, a campaign finance law passed in 2011. The provisions in question required corporations and unions to establish separate committees in order to make independent expenditures.
Such committees were required to hold membership meetings and vote to approve expenditures related to elections. The court found those provisions were likely to be held unconstitutional regulations of political speech.
Coat of Arms of Puerto Rico courtesy of Creative Commons on Wikipedia.
September 21, 2012 •
San Diego City Council to Consider Increasing Contribution Limits
For the 2014 election cycle
The city council’s rules committee has tentatively approved amendments to the city’s campaign finance laws that would increase the contribution limits for citywide offices from $500 to $1,000.
Limits for elections within districts would remain at $500.
If the entire city council approves the amendments, the new contribution limits would be in effect for the 2014 election cycle.
Seal of San Diego courtesy of Zscout370 on Wikipedia.
February 6, 2012 •
Broward County, Fla. Expected to Sue to Enforce Code of Ethics
Voters in Three Cities Undo Portions of Countywide Ethics Law
Broward County is expected to file suit in order to ensure the countywide ethics code remains in force countywide after residents of Wilton Manors, Hillsboro Beach, and Sea Ranch Lakes voted to undo portions of it during the January 31, 2012 election. Voters were asked whether local elected officials should be subjected to state law on issues relating to their side jobs, instead of the new county code of ethics, and voters in all three cities unanimously voted in favor.
Broward County Mayor John Rodstrom and Broward County Commissioners have all expressed their belief that the language used on the ballot was deceiving, as no mention of lobbying or the new county code of ethics, extended to all cities in Broward County on January 2, 2012, was contained in the language of the ballot questions.
The county is expected to pursue one of the following legal paths: suing on the ballot language as deceptive or acquiring a ruling concerning Broward County’s authority over the three cities in regards to the code of ethics.
January 31, 2012 •
First Law of 2012 Legislative Session Alters Colorado Campaign Finance Reporting Schedule
Governor’s Signature Settles Biweekly Reporting Dispute Between Secretary of State and Legislature
Governor John Hickenlooper signed the first bill to come out of the 2012 legislative session on Monday, January 30, 2012. The bill, Senate Bill 12-014, moves the date for candidates, committees, and political parties to begin filing biweekly campaign finance disclosure reports from the first Monday in July prior to the primary election to the first Monday in May prior to the primary election. This settles an ongoing dispute between lawmakers and Secretary of State Scott Gessler over filing biweekly reports prior to the state’s June 26, 2012 primary.
Lawmakers neglected to alter the beginning of biweekly reporting dates during the 2011 session when they chose to move the state’s primary date from August to June. In reaction to this, Gessler issued a rule declaring biweekly reporting would not begin until after the primary election so as to avoid requiring biweekly reporting for the 2012 election to begin in July, 2011.
After facing backlash from critics claiming he was trying to reduce transparency and following a vote by a legislative committee not to include the rule in the package of approved rules, Gessler issued a new rule declaring biweekly reports would begin for the June 2012 primary election on January 30, 2012, but future primary elections would require biweekly reporting to begin in July of the off-election year and continue until the last Monday of the biweekly schedule prior to the primary.
Unhappy with this decision by Gessler, lawmakers were able to pass SB 12-014 in time to avoid beginning biweekly reporting on Monday. The first biweekly report will now be due May 7, 2012.
January 27, 2012 •
Bill Proposes Lobbyist Statute Alterations in Vermont
Lobbyist Registration and Reporting Would be Affected
Senator Jeanette K. White has introduced Senate Bill 150, a bill concerning lobbyist registration and reporting. The bill proposes the removal of the ability to register within 48 hours of beginning to lobby and would require all lobbyists to register prior to lobbying, employers to register prior to engaging a lobbyist, and lobbying firms to file their lobbyist listings prior to the lobbyists commencing lobbying activities.
The bill also requires lobbying firms to update their listing of lobbyists before any new lobbyist commences lobbying activities and within 48 hours of a lobbyist’s termination. Finally, the threshold on reportable gifts to legislators would be decreased from $15 to $10.
If passed in present form, the changes would take effect July 1, 2012.
January 24, 2012 •
Bruce E. Bailey Named to Ohio Ethics Commission
Appointed to Replace Ben Rose
Bruce E. Bailey, an attorney from Westerville, Ohio, has been appointed to the Ohio Ethics Commission. Bailey will be taking the seat held previously by former commission chairman Ben Rose.
Rose had requested Governor John Kasich not reappoint him for another term.Bailey’s term will run through January 1, 2018.
January 19, 2012 •
Ohio Joint Legislative Ethics Committee Nixes Lawmakers and Staff from Lobbyist Ads
Also Cautions Against Promoting Lobbyists in Merely a Personal Capacity
The Ohio Joint Legislative Ethics Committee has released Advisory Opinion 2012-001, which prohibits members and employees of the Ohio General Assembly from using their office or employment status in order to promote a registered lobbyist. In its first advisory opinion to be released since 2009, the Committee pointed to Ohio Revised Code section 102.03(D), which prohibits a public official or employee from using his or her status acquired by such position in order to secure anything of value.
The Committee opined that the use of the member or employee in his or her official capacity as Senator, Representative, or legislative staffer in an advertisement or other promotional item would result in a value to the lobbyist, thus resulting in the prohibition. Additionally, the Committee cautioned against allowing such a promotion in merely a personal capacity in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety despite no specific prohibition existing.
The opinion, which was requested by an Ohio registered lobbyist, was deemed necessary after things such as requests for quotes on websites or letters of recommendation to be sent to potential clients had been made of members and employees of the Ohio General Assembly by registered lobbyists.
January 17, 2012 •
Several Cities to Vote on Changes to Broward County Ethics Code
Voters to Consider Whether Restrictions on Non-Government Side Jobs Will Continue
Voters in three Broward County cities will be asked to undo part of the recently enacted countywide code of ethics. Residents of Wilton Manors, Hillsboro Beach, and Sea Ranch Lakes will all vote during the January 31, 2012 election as to whether local elected officials should be subjected to state law on issues relating to their side jobs instead of the new county code of ethics.
The effort to pass the referendum has been spearheaded in large part by Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick. Resnick, a telecommunications attorney who lobbies in other cities in Broward County, fears he will be unable to run for another term in office after his current term is complete due to the ban on elected officials also being employed as lobbyists or engaging in lobbying activities in Broward County.
The code of ethics became effective countywide on January 2, 2012.
January 13, 2012 •
Giuliano Chosen to Lead Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission
Assumes Duties January 20th
Sebastian N. Giuliano, the former mayor of Middletown, Connecticut, has been chosen by the State Elections Enforcement Commission to serve as the agency’s executive director and general counsel.
The selection was announced Thursday night by commission chairman Stephen F. Cashman, but will not be formally approved until the commission’s January 18, 2012 meeting.
Giuliano was selected for the position from a field of 35 candidates. He is due to assume the duties of the position January 20, 2012.
January 10, 2012 •
Stamford, Connecticut Debating Mandated City Ethics Code
Considering Charter Revision or Ordinance
The Charter Review Commission for the city of Stamford, Connecticut is considering whether changes should be made in order to mandate a city ethics code. Local officials are considering whether to institute a requirement for an ethics code into the city charter, revised only once every ten years, or by ordinance.
If an ethics code is mandated into the city charter, some commission members worry repealing or altering it could become a burdensome task due to the required approval by Stamford residents through voter referendum. In contrast, an ordinance requiring a code of ethics could be changed as necessary by Stamford officials.
The Commission will be holding several meetings to allow public comments concerning the situation prior to making any decision.
January 3, 2012 •
Entirety of Palm Beach County, Florida Soon to Require Lobbyist Registration
Board of County Commissioners Votes to Extend Registry to County’s 38 Cities
Lobbyists wishing to lobby in any of Palm Beach County, Florida’s 38 cities will soon be subject to a countywide lobbyist registry, as approved by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners at their most recent meeting.
Lobbyists will be required to pay $25 to register the names of their clients, while also being required to submit annual expense reports. There will also be limits on gifts from lobbyists.
A city may opt out of the countywide registry, but then must create its own registry.
Photo of Palm Beach by Michael Kagdis on Wikipedia.
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