July 20, 2020 •

Nebraska Legislature Resumes Session

Nebraska Capitol Building

Lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol July 20 to complete the second session of the 106th Nebraska Legislature. Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk suspended the session in March due to public health concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Senators returned to a […]

Lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol July 20 to complete the second session of the 106th Nebraska Legislature.

Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk suspended the session in March due to public health concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senators returned to a changed physical environment. Changes included limitations on staff access to the legislative chamber and plexiglass barriers between members. Additionally, there was no public access to the balconies.

Among the major proposals remaining on the agenda are a property tax measure, a new business tax incentive program and passage of the state budget.

The 2020 session is scheduled to adjourn on August 13.

The revised session dates affect lobbyist reporting. Special monthly reports must be filed by lobbyists and principals if they receive or spend more than $5,000 for lobbying during any calendar month in which the Legislature is in session.

Special monthly reports are due within 15 days after the end of such calendar month.

Additionally, the lobbyist statement of activity report will be due 45 days after adjournment sine die of the session on September 27.

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July 6, 2020 •

Louisiana Lobbyist Expenditure Limit on Food, Beverages Increases

Louisiana State Capitol

Louisiana State Capitol

Lobbyists in Louisiana can now spend a bit more on wining and dining state lawmakers and other public officials. When the new budget year began July 1, the lobbying limit on food and drink for a public official edged up […]

Lobbyists in Louisiana can now spend a bit more on wining and dining state lawmakers and other public officials.

When the new budget year began July 1, the lobbying limit on food and drink for a public official edged up $1 per person, per occasion.

The new limit per person at an event is $63.

When the lobbying cap was first enacted, the limit was $50 per occasion.

However, the 2008 law that sets the limit allows annual adjustment tied to increases in the federal consumer price Index for food and beverages.

That index rose 1.8 percent in the last year.

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June 30, 2020 •

Louisiana Lawmakers Winding Down Special Session

Louisiana State Capitol

Louisiana State Capitol

Louisiana lawmakers have until final adjournment at 6 p.m. on June 30 to pass the government spending plan for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. In the special session premised in large part on COVID-19 relief, lawmakers gave […]

Louisiana lawmakers have until final adjournment at 6 p.m. on June 30 to pass the government spending plan for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

In the special session premised in large part on COVID-19 relief, lawmakers gave final legislative approval June 29 to send $250 hazard pay checks to up to 200,000 frontline workers.

Qualifying jobs include health workers, emergency, fire and law enforcement personnel, bus drivers, garbage workers, and grocery store and convenience store workers.

Additionally, negotiations on the state budget continue into the final day of the special session.

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June 22, 2020 •

New Mexico Supreme Court Issues Ruling to Ban

New Mexico Capitol

New Mexico Capitol Building - Ken Lund

In a 3-2 decision on June 16, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied a request allowing lobbyists and public into the Capitol, known as the Roundhouse, during the special legislative session beginning June 18. Chief Justice Judith Nakamura described the […]

In a 3-2 decision on June 16, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied a request allowing lobbyists and public into the Capitol, known as the Roundhouse, during the special legislative session beginning June 18.

Chief Justice Judith Nakamura described the decision as a difficult ruling to make. However, Nakamura concurred with Justices Barbara Vigil and Michael Vigil in denying the petition. 24 lawmakers submitted this proposal which would have opened the Roundhouse to lobbyists and the public for the special session.

The petition argued that prohibiting lobbyists from entering the Roundhouse violates the constitutional requirement to make all legislative sessions public.

New Mexico’s constitution provides all sessions of each house must be public. Justices challenged attorneys on both sides to define the term “public” and explain in detail what constitutes a public session.

Justice C. Shannon Bacon expressed concern about large parts of the state not having broadband. She also emphasized that thousands of people do not have access to computers, describing New Mexico as a technological desert.

The Supreme Court concluded virtual proceedings balance the need to protect the public from the public health concerns of COVID-19 with the need to ensure the legislative session remains open and transparent.

The ruling means those who wish to follow the session will watch the hearings from their computer screens. This will be current reality, rather than gathering in committee rooms and House and Senate galleries.

The public will be able to speak at the discretion of the House committee chairs via Zoom video conference call. However, the public will only be allowed to send emails, rather than joining a video conference, to address the Senate’s committee.

Beginning June 18, lawmakers will begin debating how to shore up an estimated $2 billion shortfall in projected revenues for the fiscal year 2021 budget. This shortfall is largely due to the pandemic-related government shutdown.

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June 22, 2020 •

Hawaii Ethics Commission Approves Administrative Rules on Lobbying, Gifts

Hawaii Capitol Building

The Hawaii Ethics Commission approved a package of proposals on June 18. These proposals amend and adopt portions of the Hawaii Administrative Rules related to lobbying and gifts. The amendments in chapters one through six address the Commission’s operations and […]

The Hawaii Ethics Commission approved a package of proposals on June 18. These proposals amend and adopt portions of the Hawaii Administrative Rules related to lobbying and gifts.

The amendments in chapters one through six address the Commission’s operations and procedures. Additionally, chapters seven through 10 now include sections on “Lobbying” and “Gifts and Fair Treatment”.

The proposed rules do not purport to amend any statutes. Rather, they are designed to interpret and execute the statutes enacted by the Legislature.

Section 21-10-5

Section 21-10-5, statement of contributions and expenditures, addresses the statutory requirement that statements of contributions and expenditures must be filed by up to three different entities. This could be the client, the employing organization, and the lobbyist. Or, in the case of lobbyists employed in-house by the client, the client or employing organization and the lobbyist.
This rule creates a single, client-based report rather than requiring separate reports from the client, the employing organization, and the lobbyist. This single, client-based reporting method avoids double or sometimes triple reporting. Additionally, it eliminates the practice, when clients or employing organizations cover expenditures, of having lobbyists submit reports listing “zero” expenditures.

Section 21-10-1

Section 21-10-1 contains definitions of “direct lobbying” and “grassroots lobbying” to demonstrate that lobbying can be both direct and indirect, consistent with the definition of lobbying in Section 97-1 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. Under Rule 21-10-1, direct lobbying is defined as any oral or written communication with a legislator, an employee, intern, or volunteer of the legislature or an agency that would appear to a reasonable person to be an attempt to influence legislation or rule-making.
Additionally, grassroots lobbying is defined as any oral or written communication directed at any member of the public that expresses an opinion about existing or potential legislation, administrative rule, or ballot issue and includes an explicit or implied call to action.

Section 21-7-6

Section 21-7-6, valuation of gifts, defines the value of a gift as the cost that a member of the public would reasonably expect to incur to purchase it. For example, If the face value of a ticket to an event is $100, but the event is sold out and tickets on the secondary market are $500 at the time the ticket is offered as a gift, the value of the ticket is $500.

The rules must now be approved by the Department of the Attorney General, and then by the governor. Once approved by both offices, they will be posted with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor for 10 days before becoming effective.

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June 16, 2020 •

Colorado General Assembly Adjourns June 15

Colorado Capitol

Colorado Capitol Building

The Colorado Legislature adjourned sine die on June 15 after an unprecedented session. The session originally began on January 8 with a focus on school safety and funding education. On March 14, the session was postponed to curb the spread […]

The Colorado Legislature adjourned sine die on June 15 after an unprecedented session.

The session originally began on January 8 with a focus on school safety and funding education. On March 14, the session was postponed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

When lawmakers resumed in May, the session quickly shifted to balancing the state budget in response to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers were also able to pass legislation introducing a sweeping set of reforms for law enforcement in the state.

This reform is including a ban on chokeholds and a provision requiring officers to intervene if they see the use of excessive force.

With the legislative work wrapped up, the focus is now shifting to the November election.

Gov. Jared Polis must still give his final approval on many of the bills approved in the final weeks by the state legislature.

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June 12, 2020 •

Utah Special Session Targeted for June 18

Gov Gary Herbert

Gov. Gary Herbert - by Medill DC

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is targeting a special session from June 18 to June 19 to adjust next fiscal year’s budget in response to COVID-19. A plan is underway to allow lawmakers the option of attending virtually. The day prior […]

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is targeting a special session from June 18 to June 19 to adjust next fiscal year’s budget in response to COVID-19.

A plan is underway to allow lawmakers the option of attending virtually.

The day prior to the special session, legislators will get new revenue estimates during a meeting of the Executive Appropriations Committee.

It is not known how the budget numbers will look, but they will be drastically different from the more than $900 million in excess revenue lawmakers used to set this year’s fiscal budget.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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June 11, 2020 •

Hawaii Legislature Expects to Reconvene June 22

The Hawaii Legislature will resume its session on June 22 to address budget issues, COVID-19, and police discipline measures. The Legislature previously recessed on May 22 after passing legislation storing more than $1 billion in the general fund. Now lawmakers […]

The Hawaii Legislature will resume its session on June 22 to address budget issues, COVID-19, and police discipline measures.

The Legislature previously recessed on May 22 after passing legislation storing more than $1 billion in the general fund.

Now lawmakers will need to pass a balanced budget of approximately $413 million for the fiscal year.

In terms of law enforcement reform, lawmakers will consider a proposal to require police to intervene when they see their fellow officers involved in potentially unlawful situations.

The legislative session is expected to adjourn sine die on July 10.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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June 8, 2020 •

Kansas Legislature Passes Emergency Power Bill, Adjourns Special Session

Kansas Capitol Building

Kansas Capitol Building

The Kansas Legislature adjourned its special session on June 5 after passing legislation to amend Gov. Laura Kelly’s emergency powers. House Bill 2054 provides oversight on the governor’s ability to distribute federal aid and close businesses for longer than 15 […]

The Kansas Legislature adjourned its special session on June 5 after passing legislation to amend Gov. Laura Kelly’s emergency powers.

House Bill 2054 provides oversight on the governor’s ability to distribute federal aid and close businesses for longer than 15 days at a time. It also gives the Kansas Board of Education the power to close schools.

The bill further prevents the governor from using emergency powers to seize ammunition.

Additionally, the bill limits the sale of firearms during a declared state of emergency, including for COVID-19.

The measure has been sent to the governor’s desk for signature.

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June 5, 2020 •

Louisiana Lawmakers Call Special Session to Address State Budget

Louisiana State Capitol

Louisiana State Capitol

Louisiana lawmakers called themselves into a 30-day special session that began on June 2, immediately following the adjournment of the regular session. The special session agenda focuses on piecing together a more than $30 billion operating budget for the financial […]

Louisiana lawmakers called themselves into a 30-day special session that began on June 2, immediately following the adjournment of the regular session.

The special session agenda focuses on piecing together a more than $30 billion operating budget for the financial year that begins on July 1.

The session will also center on tax credit considerations, exemptions, and suspensions for businesses that were forced to reduce operations since March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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June 3, 2020 •

Kansas Lawmakers Return for Special Legislative Session

Kansas Capitol Building

Kansas Capitol Building

Kansas lawmakers are returning for a special legislative session June 3 after Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed COVID-19 legislation passed during the final day of session. Gov. Kelly called lawmakers back to create a new bill that redefines her emergency powers. […]

Kansas lawmakers are returning for a special legislative session June 3 after Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed COVID-19 legislation passed during the final day of session.

Gov. Kelly called lawmakers back to create a new bill that redefines her emergency powers.

The previous bill sought to curb Gov. Laura Kelly’s emergency powers and give the Legislative Coordinating Council appropriation power over the $1.25 billion in federal money allocated to Kansas in the CARES Act.

Gov. Kelly would also have been barred from issuing a new COVID-19 disaster declaration unless at least six members of the State Finance Council sign off on it.

There is no time limit on the special session, so the work is expected continue for as long as necessary.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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May 28, 2020 •

Arizona Legislature Adjourns Sine Die

Arizona State Capitol

Arizona State Capitol - by Visitor7

The Arizona Legislature adjourned sine die on May 26 after the Senate’s swift move to adjourn was approved. The Senate had voted to end the session when it convened previously on May 8. However, this vote was met with opposition […]

The Arizona Legislature adjourned sine die on May 26 after the Senate’s swift move to adjourn was approved.

The Senate had voted to end the session when it convened previously on May 8.

However, this vote was met with opposition by Republican lawmakers.

The sine die adjournment leaves hundreds of bills dead that had been progressing through the Capitol before lawmakers postponed the session in March.

Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to call lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session in the coming weeks.

In this session they will deal with coronavirus-related legislation and the state budget.

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May 26, 2020 •

Hawaii Ethics Commission to Consider New Testimony for Proposed Lobbying, Gift Rules

Hawaii Capitol Building

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission voted to accept new testimony prior to its public hearing on May 21. The hearing is specifically concerning proposed amendments to the state lobbying and gift rules. In order to consider the new testimony, the […]

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission voted to accept new testimony prior to its public hearing on May 21.

The hearing is specifically concerning proposed amendments to the state lobbying and gift rules.

In order to consider the new testimony, the Commission deferred the matter to its next meeting scheduled for mid-June.

The proposals include:

  • Clarifications as to what activities constitute lobbying
  • Exclusions from lobbyist registration requirements
  • A requirement that expenditures be reported on an accrual rather than cash basis.

Additionally, the proposals would amend prohibitions on certain kinds of gifts, valuation of gifts, and gift disclosure statements.

Once the Commission approves the rules, the rules are subject to approval by the Department of the Attorney General and the governor. Afterward, they will be posted with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor for a period of 10 days before becoming effective.

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May 26, 2020 •

New Mexico Governor to Call Special Legislative Session

Governor Grisham

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham targeted June 18 for the start of a special legislative session. The session will be held to adjust the state budget amid a major hit to expected revenue related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, […]

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham targeted June 18 for the start of a special legislative session.

The session will be held to adjust the state budget amid a major hit to expected revenue related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, Governor Grisham hopes to reach bipartisan agreement on financial measures.

As of now, the state is on track to re-open thousands of more businesses and services on June 1.

The legislative session is expected to span several days.

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