August 3, 2010 •
Illinois residents can now find out who is trying to influence county government with the click of a mouse.
County Clerk David Orr and Commissioner Bridget Gainer announced “Lobbyist Online,” a searchable database of lobbyists and lobbying activity in Cook County. This Web site allows users to find out who is lobbying county government, what they are promoting, who they are trying to influence, and how much money they make. This site comes on the heels of a newly implemented electronic lobbyist registration and reporting system.
Orr’s office reported lobbyists made 576 contacts seeking to influence nearly 60 county officials during the first half of 2010.
Here is the Cook County Clerk Web site with a link to the Lobbyist Online database.
July 29, 2010 •
Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 1526 into law into law late Wednesday.
This bill changes several provisions of the lobbying laws. The registration fee is lowered to $300 in response to the previous fee of $1,000 having been enjoined. Under this new law, lobbyists must notify officials in writing of reportable expenditures at the time the expenditures are made.
Effective January 1, 2011, lobbyist reports are due on a semi-monthly basis. For 2010, a report covering the second half of the year is due January 15, 2011; the Secretary of State will issue instructions for reporting lobbyist expenditures incurred during the first half of the year.
July 20, 2010 •
The West Virginia legislature worked quickly over the weekend and Monday late into the night to make changes to the state’s election code.
With the passage of House Bill 201, a special election has been authorized to fill the vacant Senate seat long held by U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, who passed in June. Governor Manchin signed the bill late Monday night.
There will be a special primary election on August 28th and a special general election on November 2nd in conjunction with the mid-term congressional contests. Joe Manchin, a popular two-term governor has announced his intentions to run for this senate seat.
In a political compromise, this legislation declares November’s special election a “legally separate” contest from the general election, meaning Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, considered the top Republican candidate for the seat, may run for Byrd’s seat without giving up her seat in the House. The filing period for the special election begins Tuesday morning and will last through 5 p.m. Friday.
July 19, 2010 •
We always wanted to race, and now we got our chance!
The five-member pit crew arrived at Derby Downs early in the morning and spent a majority of the day assembling and decorating a classic soapbox derby car. The team, lead by driver Sarah Gray took fourth place.
Here is a video of Sarah in her first trial run:
The event is an opportunity for local companies to participate in the lead-up to the All-American Soap Box Derby, which will be held the weekend of July 24, 2010 and a chance to help Summit County United Way. Other major Summit County businesses participated in the event this year including PNC Bank, Bridgestone, and Summa Healthcare. Bridgestone was the champion of the Corporate Derby this year.
Teams decorated their derby cars with paint, decals and the classic derby tin-can headlights. The double-elimination tournament was an excellent way for participating companies to give back the community, spend time with one another in a less formal setting, and take part in one of the few remaining true slices of Americana.
Sarah Gray shared her thoughts:
Have you ever thought something was a good idea until you were about to do it? Racing a soapbox derby car down a 25-foot hill for the United Way Corporate Derby was one of those ideas for me—it sounded fun until I stood at the top and looked all the way down to the finish line.
When I first arrived at Derby Downs, I was excited about the race… until I saw the monster they call a “hill”. I knew I had to focus on the more urgent matter at hand—turning the pile of wood and wheels provided to us into a well-oiled, State-and-Federalized machine of terror! Together with my four colleagues, we did just that, except the only person feeling the “terror” was me!
I was selected to be the first crash test dummy, that is, take the first test drive down the hill. I asked everyone I saw, whether I knew them or not, if they worked for the Derby or not, and if I should be scared. Suffice it to say, I was the entertainment that morning. I’ve been told even the timekeeper watching the finish line was amused at how frightened I was. As I coasted down the hill, I had two options—steer or push on the brake. There was no “off” button, no reverse.
The cheers from the crowd as I sped down the hill eased my fears. Nearly the entire staff from State and Federal was there to root me on, some bearing signs, still more with cameras at the ready. I glided over the finish line and caught my breath—I made it!
The fear I originally held was gone. I couldn’t wait to get back to the top of the hill and zoom down again. Each time there were more people giving me advice, keep your head down, keep your rear-end back, don’t look up, don’t swerve, and just relax. After six exhilarating rides, I finished fourth place, not bad for an amateur. Not many people can say they have raced a soapbox car down Derby Downs and I would have regretted not following through with race. The memories I gained were well worth it and will last a lifetime.
Here is a picture of Team State and Federal!
July 15, 2010 •
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed ethics legislation designed to help clean up Missouri’s political culture.
This ethics overhaul was a top priority for Nixon and legislative leaders this year. Among the major changes, the new law requires elected officials and candidates to report larger campaign donations within 48 hours. It also gives the bipartisan Missouri Ethics Commission the power to begin investigations on its own, without waiting for a complaint. The law also expands reporting requirements for lobbyists who invite groups of state officials to events. Under this new law, campaign disclosure reports must be filed electronically beginning in January, 2011 and the fines for late reports are increased significantly.
July 7, 2010 •
Greg McNeilly is filing suit in federal court.
A former top Michigan Republican Party official has filed suit in federal court to strike down limits on campaign contributions to state candidates. Greg McNeilly, who served as executive director of the state GOP, says caps on donations to legislative candidates have not been adjusted for inflation since their enactment in 1976, and impose an unconstitutional restraint on his right to back candidates of his choice. McNeilly’s attorney claims Michigan’s contribution limits of $500 for state House candidates and $1,000 for state Senate candidates have lost nearly 75% of their value since 1976, and the result has been to limit the ability of outsiders to mount a credible challenge to incumbent politicians.
July 1, 2010 •
There will be no special election this year in West Virginia to fill the seat of the late Sen. Byrd.
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant has announced a special election will not be held this year to fill the seat of Senator Robert Byrd, who passed away on June 28, 2010. Under West Virginia law, Governor Joe Manchin will appoint someone to serve until a replacement is elected at the next possible election. Senator Byrd’s replacement cannot be elected in the November, 2010 election, however, because the filing period for candidates has long passed. This means there will be two elections for the same Senate seat in November 2012. One will be a special election for the remaining five weeks of Byrd’s term, and the other will be for a full six-year term since Byrd was due to stand for re-election in 2012 regardless.
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