Did you ever watch the 1966 movie Stop the World I Want to Get Off? Here is the synopsis, which I picked up from Wikipedia.

"The show, set against a circus backdrop, focuses on Littlechap from the moment of his birth until his death. Each time something unsatisfactory happens, he calls out 'Stop the world!' and addresses the audience."

It's the parts when Littlechap addresses the audience, which are the funniest. And, that is where I am going with this column. For about that past 20 years, I have had a television remote nearby and so many times, I just want to pick it up and pause whatever is going on around me.

Today, and for a while now, it is the NOISE. It is everywhere. On television with the political season underway, everything is breaking news. The impeachment trial has a lot of NOISE associated with the US Senators and the news media reporting updates. I am in Washington, DC often, and there is a lot of noise there. And, don't get me started on the coronavirus and my box of masks that I wear now on an airplane.

I love the news. Don't get me wrong. I always read the newspaper growing up and still subscribe to multiple newspapers-even though they are online. And, a lot of it is very exciting when we are discussing our future but sometimes the NOISE is too much.

So, what can we do? In NE Ohio, we are fortunate that WKSU is HD and has four stations-current on the radio, folk music, classical, and news. Sometimes I just have to change the station.

I also like quiet more than I thought I would. I always listened to music and news, and now-especially on travel-I can hook up my computer and write, work, catch up with friends, and not have anything on...And, at home, I don't have to go far to ask Alexa to play anything. I am surprised I keep it off.

It is a busy year. We are all going to be running 110 miles per hour and putting in 110% of our time at work. So, what are the best ways to unwind?

  • I like Yoga Nidra. You should check it out because I am on the floor the whole time-legs aren't going in one direction with my head somewhere else. For me it is 45 minutes, one day a week to focus on breathing.

  • And, speaking of breathing...I love that my Apple Watch reminds me to stand and to breath.

Stay calm this year...Easier said than done, but hopefully we can get past all of the NOISE.

Until next month, B R E A T H E.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Z. Bartz

President and CEO


Chicago Board of Ethics Clarifies New Ethics
Ordinance Affecting Nonprofit Lobbyists

Marilyn Wesel, Esq. 
Manager, Research Services

The Chicago Board of Ethics issued a press release and three advisory opinions to clarify what does and does not constitute lobbying activity by nonprofit organizations following questions and concerns regarding amendments to the city’s ethics ordinance.

Ethics Ordinance 2019-5305

Last summer, the City Council passed Ethics Ordinance 2019-5305, extending lobbying registration requirements to many previously exempt lobbyists representing nonprofits. The ordinance expands the definition of lobbyist to include persons paid to lobby on behalf of a nonprofit and those undertaking lobbying efforts as a matter of professional engagement, regardless of pay or compensation. The ordinance does include three exceptions to registration requirements for persons who undertake nonpartisan research; provide technical advice; or examine broad social, economic, and similar problems.

Nonprofit Community Concerns

Concerns about the amendments include the lack of a minimum threshold triggering registration; quarterly reporting requirements for advocacy involving no contributions or expenditures; increased penalties of up to $1,000 per day for noncompliance, especially considering registration is required within five days of engaging in lobbying activity; and the amount of discretion given to regulators for waivers of fees and penalties.

In consideration of these concerns, Mayor Lightfoot announced a three-month delay in the effective date of the ordinance from January 20 to April 20.

Board of Ethics Response

To clarify requirements, the three advisory opinions of the Board of Ethics include a total of 44 scenarios and hypothetical situations. Regarding procurement lobbying, ongoing contract negotiations with the city by a nonprofit do not constitute lobbying. On the other hand, attempting to persuade city officials to consider issuing a request for proposal (RFP) or request for qualifications (RFQ) would constitute lobbying.

Nonprofit staff conducting standard end of contract renegotiation with the city will not constitute lobbying if the original contract provides for renegotiation. However, if the original contract does not contemplate a process for extending the contract, then approaching the city to consider and then negotiate a new successor contract would constitute lobbying because it is an attempt to influence city administrative action.

The Board of Ethics will also be releasing, for public comment and formalization, draft rules and regulations.


Michael Beckett, Esq.,
Associate Director, Research Services

CANADA FEDERAL: Elections Canada has published the federal contribution limits for the 2020 calendar year. Individuals may contribute up to $1,625 to independent candidates, leadership candidates, registered parties, and in total to all registered associations, nomination contestants and candidates of each registered party. The limits also apply to any unpaid balance of loans made during a contribution period and the amount of any loan guarantees made during a contribution period. The limits increase annually by $25 on January 1.

MICHIGAN: The Bureau of Elections posted the Lobby Registration Act 2020 reporting thresholds, which change every year in January to reflect the change in the consumer price index for Detroit. The registration threshold for a lobbyist agent or a lobbyist’s expenditure on one public official during a 12-month period has increased from $625 to $650. The threshold for a lobbyist compensating a lobbyist agent or other employee increased from $2,500 to $2,525 for any 12-month period. The financial transaction threshold between a registered lobbyist or lobbyist agent and a public official increased from $1,250 to $1,275. Food and beverage expenditures for a public official increased from $62 in any month and $375 in any year to $63 and $400 respectively. The general gift threshold also increased from $62 to $63. Travel and lodging reimbursements, employee reimbursements, exempt expenditures, and late filing fees remain the same as last year.

NEW MEXICO: The new State Ethics Commission opened on January 2. The commission was created by a constitutional amendment passed in November 2018 and its seven member-structure was specified in a bill signed last March by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Former Judge William F. Lang was appointed by Grisham to be the commission’s first chairman. The commission will issue advisory opinions regarding campaign finance, government contracts, and lobbying disclosure law and will investigate complaints of potential violations. The commission has the authority to impose civil penalties and can recommend disciplinary action, including impeachment.

NEW YORK: The campaign finance overhaul unveiled last month by the Campaign Finance Reform Commission is now law. This happened automatically when the Legislature missed a December 22 deadline to convene and vote to block or amend the proposal. The changes include steep drops in state contribution limits, stricter ballot qualification criteria, the creation of a new regulatory agency called the Public Campaign Finance Board, and public financing of elections. Many of the new rules become effective at the start of the new year, though the public financing will not kick in until 2026.

OKLAHOMA: The Ethics Commission adjusted the contribution limit individuals may give to 2020 candidate committees from $2,700 to $2,800 per election. However, candidate committees created for elections prior to 2020 keep the same contribution limit of $2,700.

If your government affairs activities reach the local level,
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for 300+ municipalities.

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At any given time, more than 1,000 legislative bills, which can affect how you do business as a government affairs professional, are being discussed in federal, state, and local jurisdictions. These bills are summarized in State and Federal Communications' digital encyclopedias for lobbying laws, political contributions, and procurement lobbying and can be found in the client portion of our website.

Summaries of major bills are also included in monthly email updates sent to all clients. The chart below shows the number of bills we are tracking in regarding lobbying laws, political contributions, and procurement lobbying.

  Total bills Number of Jurisdictions Passed Died Carried over
from 2019
Lobbying Laws 187 32 0 0 171
Political Contributions 340 39 0 0 316
Procurement Lobbying 208 32 0 0 193


Every month subscribers to the State and Federal Communications website receive the Summary of Changes, which is a list of all the changes and additions made to the website in the course of the prior month. In all publications, a year’s worth of Summary of Changes can be accessed by clicking on the "Summary of Changes" link on the left-hand side of the entry’s website page. Below the link is a convenient chart entitled “Year End Summary” to provide a review of the highlights and major changes of 2019. 



State and Federal Communications’ Experts
Answer Your Questions

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc. Send your questions to experts@stateandfed.com. (Of course, we have always been available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or email us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies are not legal advice, just our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

My company is required to file a campaign finance report. Does our contribution also need to be reported on my lobbyist report?

Generally, when a contribution is reported on a separate campaign finance report, it does not need to also be reported on an individual lobbyist report. However, there are states such as California, where, under certain circumstances, it does. There is no across-the-board answer to this question. Every state that you are registered in has a unique take on whether campaign contributions are reportable lobbying expenditures, and if they are, how they must be reported. Let’s look at a few examples...


  Read the full article here

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Alexandra Vernis, J.D.
Compliance Services

For more information, be sure to check out the “Registration” section of the
Lobbying Compliance Laws online publication for Illinois. 
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions

Click here for subscription information

The staff of State and Federal Communications
chose to donate to Akron's Snow Angel project. 
We collected gloves, mittens, shirts, sweats, toothbrushes, combs, and socks to help out
the organization.

Eileen Shapiro, Summit County Executive, kindly visited Elizabeth during our Holiday gathering at The Trailhead in Akron.  We always enjoy seeing her.


Recently Akron's Mayor Dan Horrigan had four distinguised sculptures installed at
the furthest corners of the city.  This piece of art reflects each sculpture on metallic paper
plus a cut metal "Akron" sign.  The staff presented this to Elizabeth over the holidays.



We support PROJECT PATRIOT through the Annunciation Philoptochos Ladies Auxilliary.  Recently, they worked on a project to raise money for The Harry Donovan, Jr. Valor Home
[a transitional residence for homeless male veterans  in Akron, OH. ]
Photo:  Elizabeth Z. Bartz and Zoe McClish, Akron Philoptochos President.

Frank Abagnale is an American security consultant known for his career as a
con man.
Abagnale is currently a consultant and
lecturer for the
FBI academy and field offices.
 He also runs Abagnale & Associates, a financial fraud consultancy company.
Photo: Elizabeth Z. Bartz and Frank Abagnale at the 2019 SGAC LPC

Plan to say hello at future events where State and Federal Communications, Inc.
will be attending and/or speaking regarding compliance issues.

February 3-6

PAC Advocacy Conference,
Las Vegas, Nevada

February 5

Greater Akron Chamber--Don Plusquellic --
Legacy of Leadership, Akron, OH

February 7

Women in Government Relations Governors Reception, Washington, DC

February 7-10

National Governors Association Winter Meeting, Washington, DC

February 19

State of the Schools with
Superintendent David James, Akron, OH

February 23

Our Voices OHIO, Columbus, OH

February 25

Akron Canton Foodbank--Harvest for Hunger Campaign, Akron, OH

February 26

Akron State of the City Address, Akron, OH

March 1-4

National PAC Conference, South Beach, FL

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The Mission of State and Federal Communications is to make sure that your organization can say, "I Comply."

We are the leading authority and exclusive information source on legislation and regulations surrounding campaign finance and political contributions; state, federal, and municipal lobbying; and procurement lobbying.

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