November 28, 2013 •
The Ohio Ethics Commission issued a new rule clarifying when another party may pay or reimburse a public official or employee for travel expenses. A public official or employee may accept a thing of value if it “is not of […]
The Ohio Ethics Commission issued a new rule clarifying when another party may pay or reimburse a public official or employee for travel expenses. A public official or employee may accept a thing of value if it “is not of such a character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence on the traveler with respect to that person’s duties.”
A two-prong test has been put in place for determining whether travel expenses or reimbursements are of such character.
The rule overturns portions of two previously issued Ohio Ethics Commission Advisory Opinions. It also requires public officials or employees to disclose the source and amount of all travel expenses and reimbursements.
November 13, 2013 •
Rep. Hagan introduced HB 339 last week. HB 339 would enact section 105.43 of the Revised Code and require the capitol square review and advisory board to issue identification badges to all lobbyists seeking entrance to capitol square. Each badge […]
Rep. Hagan introduced HB 339 last week. HB 339 would enact section 105.43 of the Revised Code and require the capitol square review and advisory board to issue identification badges to all lobbyists seeking entrance to capitol square. Each badge would show a lobbyist’s name, a photograph of the lobbyist, clearly state the term “lobbyist” on the face of the badge, and list the lobbyist’s employer or employers.
The bill also requires each lobbyist to carry a card stating the name of the person or persons whose interest the lobbyist actually represents; said card must be shown to any member of the general assembly requesting to see it.
October 14, 2013 •
Affecting Legislative Agent Reporting Requirements
A bill introduced October 10 by Rep. Robert Hagan proposes to amend sections 101.72, 101.73, and 101.75 of the Revised Code. H.B. 295 would require a legislative agent to report to the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee compensation paid to the agent by the agent’s employer. This would be an additional requirement, as the current sections of code require the reporting of expenditures only.
The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Pillich and Foley.
Photo of the Ohio Statehouse by Wikimedia Creative Commons.
October 14, 2013 •
Notice to Disregard Erroneous Email
Steve Friday of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board announced Lobbyist IDs are not yet ready for pickup. Those who received an erroneous email indicating anything to the contrary should disregard it.
The board is waiting on supplies before the remainder of the ID cards can be processed. An email notification will be sent out when the IDs are ready.
June 28, 2013 •
Employees and Interns paint at East Akron YMCA
Last week on Friday, June 21, 2013, fourteen of our State & Federal Communications’ employees, including five interns, visited the East Akron YMCA on South Main Street to celebrate United Way Day of Action. After a warm welcome from Director and Vice President of Community Development Tony Grimes, the State & Fed team brought out the rollers, paintbrushes, and cans of “Legendary Blue” paint and began the day of service.
Dressed in t-shirts that read “Live United,” each member of State & Federal Communications pulled his or her own weight in work; all participated in painting the gymnasium walls and doors as well as numerous hallways. However, the volunteers never felt the task to be daunting and instead thought of it as more of a privilege.
“Though I have lived in Akron my whole life, I am often introduced to places in this community that could use a little assistance. I am always eager to help in any way possible, and I am thankful for United Way Day of Action in giving me the opportunity to do just that,” recalls Research Intern Cristina Dickos.
State & Federal Communications has participated in United Way Day of Action for several years, and each year the company looks forward to spending a day outside the office, showing that our work reaches beyond the desk.
Marketing Intern, Joanna Kamvouris, shared her sentiments: “Day of Action gave me a chance to appreciate what I sometimes take for granted and help brighten the day of children and workers within our Akron community,” Kamvouris said. “The work we completed as a team went beyond applying bright blue paint to the walls along the East Akron YMCA. We came together and made a difference that the children will see every time they visit the YMCA.”
April 10, 2013 •
Substitute bill includes only services currently taxed
House Speaker William G. Batchelder and Representative Ron Amstutz introduced a substitute for House Bill 59, Governor Kasich’s budget bill.
Governor Kasich’s version of the bill would have overhauled the state sales tax by subjecting most services, including lobbying and consulting services, to the tax.
The substitute version of the bill eliminates those changes, leaving the current sales tax on services unchanged. If the substitute bill passes, lobbying and consulting services will remain untaxed in Ohio.
February 25, 2013 •
New limits effective for two years
Ohio has increased its campaign contribution limits. Individuals, political action committees (PACs), and political contributing entities (PCEs) may now contribute up to $12,155.52 to any one statewide, senate, or house campaign committee during a primary or general election period, or to a PAC or PCE during a calendar year. An individual may contribute this same amount to the state candidate fund of a county political party in the individual’s county of residence. The previous limit was $11,543.70.
Additionally, the limit individuals, PACs, and PCEs may contribute per calendar year to any one state candidate fund of a state political party increased to $36,466.56 from $34,631.11, and to any one legislative campaign fund, $18,233.28, up from $17,315.55.
These limits are effective beginning February 25, 2013 until February 24, 2015.
February 15, 2013 •
Ohio sales tax extended to many services currently exempt
Lobbying and consulting services could soon be subject to sales tax under Governor John Kasich’s budget proposal. House Bill 59, the governor’s expansive budget bill, proposes to decrease the state sales tax rate, but makes up for lost revenue by increasing the services subject to sales tax. All service transactions would be subject to the tax unless specifically exempted in the bill, including legal and accounting services.
You can view a list of the services that will be covered by the sales tax here.
While Governor Kasich predicts lobbyists will attempt to remove the tax on their industry from the budget bill, a Florida Institute of CPAs lobbyist claims it’s not just self-interest–determining who is taxed and who pays can be tricky when lobbying firms hire both accountants and lawyers to assist with projects.
If passed, the sales tax will apply to all non-exempt services rendered on or after September 1, 2013.
December 11, 2012 •
New limits effective for 2013 elections
Akron City Council has increased the city’s campaign contribution limits, to take effect for the council elections in 2013.
The limit for mayoral and at-large candidates will increase to $650 from $450, and the limits for ward council candidates will increase to $400 from the current $200 limit.
The limits were previously raised in February 2011.
November 30, 2012 •
December 2-5, 2012
State and Federal Communications is excited to be sending 11 people to the Council on Government Ethics Laws (COGEL) 34th Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. We are excited to have the conference in our home state capitol and we are helping every way we can – setting up, breakfast table topic leaders, a panelist for a breakout session, helping with social media, and more! It should be an exciting conference.
Maybe we’ll see you there?
Here is COGEL’s description of the conference:
COGEL and its Ohio Partners invite you to the 34th Annual Conference in COLUMBUS, Ohio! This thought provoking and educational conference is an opportunity to celebrate US — professionals in the fields of ethics, campaign finance, lobbying, elections and freedom of information.
With dynamic sessions, stimulating guest speakers, challenging discussions and endless opportunities for networking, this year’s COGEL Conference is not to be missed! The program includes elements of communicating your mission, understanding new technology, and catching up on legislation and litigation.
There’s always something fun happening in Ohio’s capital city. With a lively arts scene, plenty of restaurants, shops, sports and entertainment venues, you don’t have to venture far to have a good time. This year’s Sunday evening reception will take place in the beautiful and historic Ohio Statehouse, directly across the street from the Sheraton Hotel at Capitol Square.
November 26, 2012 •
Includes numerous changes to lobbying law
Outgoing senate president Tom Niehaus has introduced a bill to overhaul the state’s ethics law. Senate Bill 391, if passed, will:
- Increase the lobbyist registration fee to $35 (will take effect 12/1/14 if passed);
- Change the registration period for executive and retirement system lobbyists to two years, expiring on December 31 of even-numbered years (will take effect 12/1/14 if passed);
- Codify the percentage of time a lobbyist must spend on lobbying before being required to register;
- Increase the itemizing threshold for lobbyist expenditure reporting to $100;
- Exclude maintenance of office facilities and compensation paid to legislative agents from the definition of expenditure; and
- Increase the limit on gifts to public officials to $250, aggregated per calendar year.
The bill also provides additional requirements for financial disclosures from public officials.
October 3, 2012 •
First Amendment challenges a common thread
With the November elections on the horizon, a number of lawsuits have been filed by potential campaign contributors seeking to determine the constitutionality of their states’ campaign finance laws. The following states have seen campaign finance laws invalidated in August.
In Nebraska, the state supreme court held the Campaign Finance Limitation Act (CFLA) unconstitutional. The CFLA allowed candidates participating in the public financing program to receive additional public funds if their privately-funded opponents exceeded certain spending limits. The court also struck down the CFLA’s aggregate contribution limits and rules governing acceptance of contributions from independent groups after the court determined the public financing portion of the CFLA was not severable from the rest of the law.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Ohio’s ban on political contributions to candidates for state attorney general or county prosecutor from doctors who treat Medicaid patients unconstitutional. The provision was designed to prevent fraud by banning contributions to those officials who prosecute Medicaid fraud, but the court held the prohibition a violation of doctors’ free speech rights.
In Florida, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of Florida’s $100 per election contribution limit for persons 17 and under, holding the law an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights. Florida allows persons aged 18 and over to contribute $500 per election.
A federal judge in West Virginia granted a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of West Virginia’s $1,000-per-election limit on contributions to independent expenditure PACs, on the grounds that the limit chills First Amendment free speech rights. The injunction will remain in place pending a final resolution of the case.
Finally, in Colorado, a federal judge invalidated several campaign finance rule changes made by the secretary of state. The rules struck down include one providing that organizations are only subject to reporting requirements if more than 30 percent of their spending was for or against a ballot issue, and one limiting penalties for certain campaign finance violations. The secretary of state’s rule defining electioneering communications was upheld. Two additional rules await a decision.
August 6, 2012 •
Law unconstitutionally restricts doctors’ free speech rights
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Ohio’s ban on political contributions from doctors who treat Medicaid patients to candidates for state attorney general or county prosecutor is unconstitutional.
The provision was designed to prevent fraud by banning contributions to those officials who prosecute Medicaid fraud, but the court held that the prohibition was a violation of doctors’ free speech rights.
The secretary of state’s office announced it was reviewing the decision and had no further comment on the case.
June 13, 2012 •
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.