January 3, 2020 •

New York Commission Launches System-Generated Client Semiannual Reports

New York Capitol

New York Capitol Building

On December 19, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics launched the system-generated Client Semiannual Report (CSA) feature on the state’s online Lobbying Application system. Contractual clients who lobby on their own behalf and do not utilize the services of any […]

On December 19, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics launched the system-generated Client Semiannual Report (CSA) feature on the state’s online Lobbying Application system.

Contractual clients who lobby on their own behalf and do not utilize the services of any retained lobbyists are not required to file CSA reports.

Instead, system-generated CSA reports will be created with information directly imported from filed lobbyist bimonthly reports covering the applicable reporting period.

The system will not create a system-generated CSA if an Employed Principal Lobbyist has submitted a CSA report for the January to June reporting period.

Also, contractual clients are still required to disclose sources of funding or indicate source of funding reporting is not required.

No filing fee is required for system-generated CSA reports except to add retained lobbyist information.

Adding retained lobbyists requires a $50 filing fee and filing CSA reports going forward.

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December 12, 2019 •

Connecticut General Assembly to Convene Two Special Sessions

Connecticut State Capitol

The Connecticut General Assembly is scheduled to convene for a special session on December 18. The special legislative session is to vote on issues regarding a hospital tax settlement and a restaurant workers wage bill. Gov. Ned Lamont and the […]

The Connecticut General Assembly is scheduled to convene for a special session on December 18.

The special legislative session is to vote on issues regarding a hospital tax settlement and a restaurant workers wage bill.

Gov. Ned Lamont and the Legislature also agreed to convene a special session in early January to address a bonding bill and a long-term infrastructure plan.

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December 11, 2019 •

Georgia Secretary of State Announces Special Election for House District 171

The Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a special election for January 28 for House District 171. The seat is vacant after Rep. Jay Powell unexpectedly died in November while attending a Republican leadership retreat. A runoff election is scheduled […]

The Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a special election for January 28 for House District 171.

The seat is vacant after Rep. Jay Powell unexpectedly died in November while attending a Republican leadership retreat.

A runoff election is scheduled for February 25 if no candidate receives a majority of the vote during the special election.

The winner of the election will serve the remaining year of Powell’s term.

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December 9, 2019 •

Connecticut Governor Announces Special Election for House District 151

Connecticut State Capitol

Gov. Ned Lamont announced a special election on January 21, 2020 for House District 151. The seat for House District 151 was vacated earlier this week by Rep. Fred Camillo after being elected first selectman of Greenwich in November. The […]

Gov. Ned Lamont announced a special election on January 21, 2020 for House District 151.

The seat for House District 151 was vacated earlier this week by Rep. Fred Camillo after being elected first selectman of Greenwich in November.

The winner of the special election will complete the remaining year of Camillo’s term.

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December 6, 2019 •

Tallahassee City Commission Passes Ordinance Amending Ethics Code

Tallahassee City Hall

On December 4, the Tallahassee City Commission approved an ordinance amending the city’s ethics code. The ordinance expands the Independent Ethics Board’s jurisdiction to covered individuals including: Each public official An employee or member of a city board, commission, or […]

On December 4, the Tallahassee City Commission approved an ordinance amending the city’s ethics code.

The ordinance expands the Independent Ethics Board’s jurisdiction to covered individuals including:

  • Each public official
  • An employee or member of a city board, commission, or council required to file financial disclosures, or with purchasing authority exceeding $35,000
  • Employees participating in the procurement of services or commodities exceeding $10,000

The amended ethics code extends the ban on solicitation and acceptance of gifts to covered individuals.

Additionally, the amended code extends the prohibition against misuse of public position to all public officials and employees of the city.

The ordinance becomes effective January 1, 2020.

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December 6, 2019 •

U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Calls Special Session for Amendment to Cannabis Law

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. announced a special session for December 18. The special session is to consider an amendment to the Medicinal Cannabis Patient Care Act. The amendment provides more regulatory controls and enables the generation of tax and fee […]

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. announced a special session for December 18.

The special session is to consider an amendment to the Medicinal Cannabis Patient Care Act.

The amendment provides more regulatory controls and enables the generation of tax and fee revenues.

If passed, the amendment would allow for the sale of cannabis products to tourists and create a regulated system to prevent fraud, increase transparency, testing, licensing and penalties.

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December 5, 2019 •

New York Commission Announces Enforcement of Specificity Requirements

The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) announced the commission will require 2019 bimonthly reports due in September and later to include the level of specificity required by lobbying regulations. The commission will require lobbying activity information to […]

The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) announced the commission will require 2019 bimonthly reports due in September and later to include the level of specificity required by lobbying regulations.

The commission will require lobbying activity information to correctly disclose the focus type, focus (including the specific bill, resolution, or executive order), the identifying number, description of the focus, type of lobbying communication, and names of the party lobbied.

Lobbyists may be required to amend previously filed reports in September and November to comply with the specificity requirements.

JCOPE has produced a guideline, “How to Properly Disclose Lobbying Activities” on their website outlining the required information required for proper disclosure.

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December 5, 2019 •

New York Campaign Finance Reform Commission Recommends Public Finance System, Lower Contribution Limits

The New York Campaign Finance Reform Commission released their report containing recommendations regarding the creation of a public campaign finance system and reforms to the state election laws. The commission proposes to create a voluntary public campaign finance system for […]

The New York Campaign Finance Reform Commission released their report containing recommendations regarding the creation of a public campaign finance system and reforms to the state election laws.

The commission proposes to create a voluntary public campaign finance system for statewide and legislative candidates.

The public campaign finance system establishes reporting requirements for participating candidates and sets initial eligibility requirements for the program.

The commission also proposed lowering campaign contribution limits for candidates seeking statewide office to $18,000.

Contribution limits for candidates seeking the office of state senator and assembly member would also be lowered to $10,000 and $6,000, respectively.

Contribution limits would be divided equally between primary and general elections and applied to both participating and nonparticipating candidates in the proposed public campaign finance system.

The commission’s recommendations become effective December 22, unless the Legislature supersedes the report’s proposals by statute.

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December 4, 2019 •

Connecticut Governor Announces Special Elections

Connecticut State Capitol

Gov. Ned Lamont announced a special election on January 14, 2020, to fill two vacancies in the House of Representatives. House District 48 was most recently held by Rep. Linda Orange who passed away due to pancreatic cancer. Rep. Brenda […]

Gov. Ned Lamont announced a special election on January 14, 2020, to fill two vacancies in the House of Representatives.

House District 48 was most recently held by Rep. Linda Orange who passed away due to pancreatic cancer.

Rep. Brenda Kupchick resigned from the House District 132 seat on November 22 to assume office as chief elected official of Fairfield.

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November 18, 2019 •

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards Wins Reelection

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

On Saturday, Gov. John Bel Edwards defeated Republican challenger Eddie Rispone to win reelection. The election was close heading into the final week and Edwards held onto his seat with a difference of 40,300 votes. Edwards becomes the first Democrat […]

On Saturday, Gov. John Bel Edwards defeated Republican challenger Eddie Rispone to win reelection.

The election was close heading into the final week and Edwards held onto his seat with a difference of 40,300 votes.

Edwards becomes the first Democrat in Louisiana to win reelection since 1975.

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November 14, 2019 •

New York JCOPE Correspondence Clarifies Client Report Due Date

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) sent out a statement clarifying an earlier email reminder regarding lobbyist bimonthly filings due this week. The previous email reminder was sent out to JCOPE’s distribution list containing clients, lobbyists, and other entities […]

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) sent out a statement clarifying an earlier email reminder regarding lobbyist bimonthly filings due this week.

The previous email reminder was sent out to JCOPE’s distribution list containing clients, lobbyists, and other entities no longer registered in New York.

The email reminder was only relevant for lobbyists filing bimonthly reports covering the period of September through October.

Client filings are not due again until January 15, 2020.

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November 6, 2019 •

Virginia Democrats Win A Majority In General Assembly

Virginia Capitol Building - Ron Cogswell

Democrats won a majority of seats in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly on November 5. Democrats gained six seats in the House of Delegates and two in the Senate. This will be the first majority for Democrats in […]

Democrats won a majority of seats in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly on November 5.

Democrats gained six seats in the House of Delegates and two in the Senate.

This will be the first majority for Democrats in over 25 years.

With Gov. Ralph Northam serving as governor, Virginia Democrats form a state government trifecta.

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November 6, 2019 •

New York City Voters Approve Ethics Ballot Question

On Election Day, voters approved Ballot Question 3, Ethics and Governance. The proposal amends the city charter by extending the post-employment appearance ban for elected officials and senior appointed officials. Additionally, the proposal limits political activity and donations by members […]

On Election Day, voters approved Ballot Question 3, Ethics and Governance.

The proposal amends the city charter by extending the post-employment appearance ban for elected officials and senior appointed officials.

Additionally, the proposal limits political activity and donations by members of the Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB).

City elected officials and senior appointed officials will be prohibited from appearing before the agency or branch of government they served in after leaving service for two years. The current rule is one year.

The amendment would also prohibit members of the COIB from participating in campaigns for local elected office.

Furthermore, the amendment reduces the maximum amount members can contribute in each election cycle.

The post-employment ban would become effective January 1, 2022.

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October 3, 2019 •

US District Court Finds New York Donor Disclosure Rules Unconstitutional

On October 1, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled state laws enacted in 2016 requiring disclosure of donors to tax exempt organizations to be invalid. In Citizens Union of the City of New York, […]

On October 1, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled state laws enacted in 2016 requiring disclosure of donors to tax exempt organizations to be invalid.

In Citizens Union of the City of New York, et al., v. Attorney General of the State of New York, the U.S. District Court found provisions in the state’s ethics laws requiring entities exempt from federal taxation under 26 USC §§501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) to publicly report donors under certain circumstances to be unconstitutional.

The district court found the disclosure of funding sources requirement for 501(c)(3) entities making an in-kind donation over $2,500 to a 501(c)(4) entity engaged in lobbying violates the First Amendment because it chills speech and burdens donors’ rights to free association and privacy.

The district court also struck down the rule requiring 501(c)(4) to publicly disclose donors if the entity makes a public statement that refers to the position of an official regarding any potential legislation.

The second provision was found to intrude on donors’ right to express opinions anonymously.

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