May 13, 2011 •
West Virginia’s ethics panel decided the law does not include independent contractors.
The West Virginia Ethics Commission has concluded it cannot prevent an employee of the Legislature from avoiding the state’s newly passed “revolving door” ban if he changes his status from an employee to an independent contractor before the law takes effect on July 1, 2011.
Under the pending law, elected officials and certain high-ranking unelected employees will be forbidden from acting as lobbyists for one year after leaving public employment. The commission decided this law does not include independent contractors.
This decision comes after a request for an opinion by legislative counsel Donnie Adkins. The commission said it “is troubled” by the proposed maneuver but would be unable to bring him within the revolving door ban as an independent contractor.
The West Virginia Ethics Commission offers the opinion on their website.
Here is the Charleston Gazette’s coverage in the story, “Ethics loophole a cause of concern” by Phil Kabler.
May 4, 2011 •
The new law takes effect August 1.
Governor Jack Dalrymple has signed Senate Bill 2073 into law.
The legislation, effective August 1, 2011, requires corporations making independent expenditures relating to ballot measures to file a report including the company’s name, the measure supported or opposed, and the monetary amount of the expenditure made.
This report, known as a “direct expenditure statement,” is due within 48 hours of making such an expenditure.
Photo of Governor Dalrymple courtesy of the North Dakota Office of the Governor website.
April 28, 2011 •
Governor Terry Branstad signed House File 126 into law on Tuesday.
This law, taking effect on July 1, 2011, requires lobbyist registration and reporting only with the legislative branch.
Lobbyists will indicate on this registration whether they will also engage in lobbying executive officials.
Employer reports will still be due each July 31st.
Photo of Governor Branstad courtesy of the official website for the Office of the Governor.
April 27, 2011 •
Lobbyists in the Hawkeye State may soon have a streamlined registration and reporting process.
House File 126 has passed both houses of the Iowa Legislature and now awaits approval from Governor Terry Branstad.
This bill would change the state’s law to require lobbyists to register and report with the legislative branch only; currently there is separate registration and reporting for the legislative and executive branches.
Lobbyists would indicate on the registrations whether they will lobby executive officials in addition to lawmakers. Lobbyists would have a combined annual report due each July 31st and registration would open in December for the following calendar year.
April 20, 2011 •
A bill to tighten restrictions on political contributions has been introduced in the California legislature.
Assembly Bill 860 would prohibit corporations or labor unions from making contributions to a candidate for elected office. Additionally, this legislation would strengthen the state pay-to-play laws.
The bill would prohibit government contractors from making contributions to an official or candidate who is or would be elected to a position responsible for awarding a government contract to the contributor.
Finally, this bill would also prohibit any employer from using payroll deduction to fund any political activity.
Photo of the California State Capitol by Nikopoley on Wikipedia.
April 14, 2011 •
Acting Governor Tomblin signed House Bill 2464 into law late last week.
This ethics bill, which takes effect on July 1, 2011, prohibits members of the state legislature, elected executive branch officials, agency heads, and certain other appointed officials from acting as lobbyists for one year after leaving office.
Additionally, this legislation will require a public official who files financial disclosure statements to reveal employment information and other “business interests” of his or her spouse.
The spousal disclosures are designed to shine light on additional conflicts of interest an official may have even without a personal stake in a matter.
Photo of the West Virginia State Capitol by Garkeith on Wikipedia.
April 6, 2011 •
A bill has been introduced in the General Assembly to simultaneously broaden the scope of the state’s campaign finance reporting laws and simplify the reporting schedule.
Under Assembly Bill 447, all committees making expenditures or receiving contributions of more than $500 would be required to file quarterly statements.
The legislation would eliminate independent expenditure reports, odd-year committee reports, and certain supplemental pre-election reports. Instead, all officers, candidates, and committees would have one pre-election report due 16 days before an election.
Late contribution reports would still be required within 24 hours of making a contribution near an election.
March 29, 2011 •
Politically active corporations gain another tool.
Senate Bill 39 has been signed by Governor Daugaard and will take effect July 1, 2011.
This law will allow corporations to make contributions to political action committees, contributions previously banned by state campaign finance law.
Under this bill, however, corporate contributions to candidates, candidate committees, or political parties are still prohibited.
Photo of Governor Daugaard courtesy of the South Dakota Governor website.
March 23, 2011 •
Political contributions and advertisements may be targeted
A bill has been introduced in the Iowa Legislature to impose a five percent “fee” on contributions in excess of $250 per year received by a PAC, candidate, or candidate’s committee from a single source.
Additionally, House File 140 would apply the same fee to political advertisements made by candidates or their committees and independent expenditures made by corporations.
The funds raised would be used to help offset the cost of operating the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.
Photo of the Iowa State Capitol by Iqkotze on Wikipedia.
March 16, 2011 •
Opponents of a new law prohibiting payroll deductions from public employees for “political activity” have filed for a temporary injunction in federal court.
The complaint filed by the American Education Association seeks to have the law overturned on grounds of violating free speech and equal protection.
Even though the law prohibits the use of payroll deductions from all public employees for such activities, the teachers’ group says the law, passed and supported by Republicans, is discriminatory and specifically aimed at them because the A.E.A. has traditionally been a strong supporter of Democratic candidates.
The statute in question has been a source of controversy since it was passed in December during a special legislative session which saw an overhaul of several aspects of the Alabama ethics laws.
March 9, 2011 •
Voters Approve Pay-to-Play Restrictions
Voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the city charter placing serious restrictions on the ability of those doing business or seeking to do business with the city to make campaign contributions.
The pay-to-play rule, which passed with a vote of 75 percent in favor, will prohibit anyone bidding on a contract with Los Angeles worth $100,000 or more from donating to or fundraising for city officials with the authority to approve the contract on which he or she is bidding.
Photo of Los Angeles City Hall by Brion VIBBER on Wikipedia.
March 9, 2011 •
Opponents say bill would limit workers’ ability to organize
A bill prohibiting unions from making paycheck deductions for political activities has passed the Kansas house and is now in the state senate. The bill would also ban public employee unions from endorsing candidates.
Opponents of the bill claim the legislation is an attack on the ability of workers to organize and participate as a group in the political process, while those in favor of it say this is simply an effort to help workers who do not support their union’s political activity.
A similar law passed in Alabama during a December special session outlawed payroll deduction contributions to PACs by public employees. That law, passed by Republicans, was harshly criticized as “partisan politics” because the PACs traditionally supported by public employee payroll deductions leaned overwhelmingly Democrat.
Photo of the Kansas State Capitol by Nikopoley on Wikipedia.
February 28, 2011 •
Governor Brown has appointed Ann Ravel to the Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).
Ms. Ravel is the commission’s first chairwoman and has an established career in public service. She has served as counsel for Santa Clara County and most recently with the U.S. Justice Department.
Ravel has indicated she may reverse the recently enacted policy of publishing allegations on the FPPC’s website before investigations are concluded out of consideration for politicians and others who may be wrongfully accused of an infraction and later cleared.
Ms. Ravel replaces Dan Schnur, a Schwarzenegger appointee, atop the commission.
Photo of Ann Ravel courtesy of the Santa Clara County website.
February 28, 2011 •
New rules would regulate fee payments to placement agents, other proposals have been postponed.
Directors of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) adopted several new ethics proposals. Among the proposals are rules to regulate fee payments to placement agents, who help funds gain access to CalPERS decision makers, and rules to ensure the same staff members who negotiate investment deals do not monitor their success.
Additionally, the directors approved a requirement for investment partners to hold meetings in modest office settings instead of vacation resorts. The directors postponed decisions on proposals to reduce or eliminate travel, gifts, and other accommodations outside investment firms provide board members, and to impose a two-year “revolving door” ban on certain CalPERS employees.
These regulations being put in place are in line with legislation taking effect earlier this year requiring placement agents to register as lobbyists and regulating how the agents are paid.
Photo of CalPERS headquarters by Coolcaesar on Wikipedia.
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