February 9, 2011 •
Legislature Targets ‘Revolving Door’
The House and Senate have passed identical bills, House Bill 1284 and Senate Bill 194, aimed at delaying a legislator’s ability to become a lobbyist upon leaving the legislature.
The measures, often referred to as “revolving door legislation,” prohibit any former member of the legislature from registering as a lobbyist until one year after the expiration of the term the legislator was elected to serve.
Each chamber will now review the other’s bill. Governor Mike Beebe is expected to sign the legislation once passed.
Photo of the Arkansas State Capitol Building by Stuart Seeger on Wikipedia.
February 8, 2011 •
Lobbyist gift limits have been raised as well.
The Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance introduced new contribution limits for 2011-2012 to reflect increases in the Consumer Price Index.
The new limits include a biennial aggregate limit of $113,700 on contributions to State and Local candidates and PACs. Individuals may contribute no more than $44,800 to State and Local candidates and no more than $68,900 to all PACs (including parties) during the two year cycle.
Lobbyist gift limits have increased to $55 per event and lobbyist employers are limited to gifts with a cumulative value of $110 during a calendar year.
February 4, 2011 •
New rules for lobbyists could be coming to Providence.
Here is a heads-up for those following lobbying news in Rhode Island. News Editor Stephen Beale wrote on GoLocalProv that Providence, Rhode Island could be the first city in the state to require lobbyists to register with city hall.
The new rules have sparked a debate between supporters of government transparency and accountability and those who do not wish to inhibit non-lobbying groups from interacting with government.
For the full article, go to “Providence Could Become First RI City to Regulate Lobbyists” on GoLocalProv.com.
February 3, 2011 •
Covers Persons Seeking Business Relationships
Senator James Arnold has introduced a bill which would require persons seeking business relationships with local jurisdictions and their agencies to register and report activity and expenditures as lobbyists, whether or not the local jurisdictions have ordinances dealing with lobbying. Senate Bill 0330 defines ‘business relationship’ to include pecuniary interest contracts and purchases with an agency with an aggregate value of at least $100,000.
The bill calls for the reporting to be filed with the local county clerks where the lobbying activity occurs. A $100 a day late fine would be imposed for each day a lobbyist misses his or her filing date and lobbyists knowingly failing to register or file would face a Class A infraction.
The bill also allows local jurisdictions to adopt ethics ordinances and establish ethics commissions.
Map of Indiana by Jim Irwin on Wikipedia.
February 3, 2011 •
Lobbyist receives fine
Jim Sedor, editor of News You Can Use, pointed out this article – “Lobbyist for San Manuel Tribe Fined $30,000 by State” from Tuesday’s Riverside Press-Enterprise.
According to the article, lobbyist Frank Molina of Strategic Solutions Advisors was fined $30,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to file lobbying reports. The article states Molina has lobbied for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, both operating casinos.
News You Can Use is State and Federal Communications’ weekly summary of national news focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
February 3, 2011 •
Following a headline-grabbing scandal in which several prominent Alabama lawmakers, businessmen, and lobbyists were indicted in a cash-for-votes scheme related to pending gambling laws, state legislators took the opportunity to overhaul lobbyist, campaign finance, and other ethics rules.
The special session, called by Governor Riley in late December, lasted seven days and saw the passage of several landmark bills, each of which was promptly signed into law.
The most dramatic change concerning lobbyists is the newly enacted expenditure limits. Previously, lobbyists could spend anything on an official without having to report it until the spending exceeded $250 per day. Now, lobbyists may only spend $25 on an official for a meal with an annual limit of $150. For a lobbyist’s employer, the limit is $50 per meal with a $250 annual cap. This law has been criticized by some as having too many loopholes. For instance, the limit does not apply to an “educational function” or certain “widely attended” events. Disclosure of spending at these events is still required when spending exceeds $250 per official.
Lawmakers also passed a ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers of funds. This, lawmakers hope, will reduce the “shell game” sometimes played which makes it very difficult for the public to track who is actually funding candidates or making expenditures.
Several of the laws passed impacted the actions of state officials directly. Starting in 2014, a state lawmaker will no longer be allowed to hold another government job. Additionally, the reforms include a ban on “pass through pork.” This is a practice whereby state lawmakers could direct an agency to spend money a certain way without legislative approval. Finally, the Alabama Ethics Commission will be granted subpoena power; this is expected to make enforcement of the laws much easier and effective.
The most controversial bill passed during the session is one banning politically active groups from receiving contributions via payroll deduction from state employees. This law was decried as an attack on the American Education Association, a group usually linked to Democratic candidates. Governor Riley, a Republican, defended the bill as a step to prevent misuse of state time and money.
While most agree the reform package is not perfect or all-inclusive, most within the state’s ethics and political circles agree they are a significant step forward at a time when Alabama badly needs one.
Photo of the Alabama Statehouse by Spyder_Monkey on Wikipedia.
February 2, 2011 •
Lobbying Exceptions Provided
Delegate Anthony J. O’Donnell introduced a bill creating a cooling off period for executive branch officials who wish to lobby upon leaving office. House Bill 0027 would prohibit former state and public officials of the executive branch from lobbying, or assisting in lobbying, for compensation in matters of legislative action for a period of one year after leaving employment.
The bill provides an exception permitting the former officials to lobby for a municipal corporation, county, or state governmental entity.
Photo of the Maryland Statehouse in Annapolis by Thisisbossi on Wikipedia.
February 2, 2011 •
House Bill 1474, introduced before the Washington Legislature, seeks to make electronic filing of lobbyist and lobbyist employer reports mandatory by July 1, 2012.
The bill creates a new electronic filing system funded by both an initial fee charged to registered lobbyists and lobbyist employers in 2011 and an annual fee collected thereafter.
The bill states that the increased fees are required for data development costs and the purchase and maintenance of computer hardware and software associated with the new system.
Photo of the Washington State Capitol by Bluedisk on Wikipedia.
January 31, 2011 •
The Hawaii Legislature will have the opportunity to debate changes in regards to the reporting and disclosure requirements for lobbyists and their clients during the 2011 session due to the filing of House Bill 637 and Senate Bill 671.
These bills would alter reporting and disclosure requirements to mandate reports be filed each month during the period from January through May of each year, as well as during any other month in which the legislature is in session. Further, an additional report would be filed on January 15 of each year to cover the period of June 1 to December 31.
Additionally, the bills would require lobbyists and their clients to make new disclosures, including campaign contributions made, the existence of any contractual relationships with legislators, and events attended wherein members of the legislature were in attendance and an average cost of $25 or more per person or total of $500 including gifts was expended. The bills also provide for definitions to pertinent terms, including ‘candidate,’ ‘candidate committee,’ ‘committee,’ and ‘contractual relationship.’
January 27, 2011 •
They Will Consider Stopping ‘Revolving Door’ for Four Year Period
House Bill 44, a bill regarding ‘revolving door’ legislation, has been introduced in the Mississippi legislature. According to the bill, a member of the legislature would not be permitted to engage in or perform any function which would require registration as a lobbyist for a period of four years following the expiration of his or her legislative term. If passed, the bill would take effect July 1, 2011.
Photo of the Mississippi State Capitol by Charlie Brenner on Wikipedia.
January 27, 2011 •
Commission to Improve Lobbying Laws
City Council has confirmed the appointments of Herbert Berman, Margaret Morton, Lesley Horton, and Jamila Ponton Bragg to the New York City Lobbying Commission. Berman, a lobbyist and former Council Finance Committee Chair, was selected to be the Lobbying Commission Chair.
Formation of the Lobbying Commission had stalled for three years as suitable candidates were sought. The Lobbying Commission is an advisory body charged with making recommendations to improve New York City’s 2006 lobbying laws.
Photo of the New York City Hall by Momos on Wikipedia.
January 26, 2011 •
Cooling Off Period Prescribed
Representative Joseph M. McNamara introduced HB 5127 to amend the state’s “Code of Ethics” law. The bill would create a cooling off period for executive branch government officials who wish to lobby for specific entities once they leave office.
The law would require those employed by the department of administration in a decision-making position or capacity or those with influence over legislation with the executive branch to not lobby for or even work for a state agency, quasi-public agency, or any other state subsidized corporation or entity should they leave their employment until a new governor is elected.
January 26, 2011 •
The Idaho senate has passed two bills which would restrict public officials’ employment options after leaving office.
SB1037 would prohibit certain officials from working for a company receiving certain state contracts or grants for one year if the former official was involved in the award process.
SB1038, a “revolving door” law, would prohibit state officials or legislators from working as a lobbyist for one year after leaving office.
January 20, 2011 •
Reports due on January 23.
Because of a technical malfunction, the Illinois Secretary of State‘s reporting system was unavailable from January 16th until early on January 18th. Accordingly, the Index Department has extended the deadline for reporting expenditures made in the first half of January.
Instead of being due on January 20th, those required to file reports now have until January 23.
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