October 12, 2020 •

Texas Governor Announces Senate District 30 Runoff Date

Texas Capitol Building

Texas Capitol Building

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott named December 19 as the special election runoff for Senate District 30 to fill Sen. Pat Fallon’s seat. The special election for Texas State Senate District 30 was held on September 29 after Fallon announced his […]

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott named December 19 as the special election runoff for Senate District 30 to fill Sen. Pat Fallon’s seat.

The special election for Texas State Senate District 30 was held on September 29 after Fallon announced his plans to run for election to the U.S. House to represent the 4th Congressional District of Texas.

State Rep. Drew Springer and Dallas Salon Owner Shelley Luther are on the ballot to fill Fallon’s seat. District 30 covers a big chunk of north Texas including parts of Grayson, Denton, Collin, and Parker Counties.

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October 9, 2020 •

Hawaii Senate Confirms Judicial Appointments, Adjourns Special Session

The Hawaii State Senate confirmed eight judicial appointments on October 6 in its first special session of 2020. First Circuit Court Judge Karen Nakasone was appointed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Karin Holma, Tracy Fukui, Bryant Zane, and Andrew […]

The Hawaii State Senate confirmed eight judicial appointments on October 6 in its first special session of 2020.

First Circuit Court Judge Karen Nakasone was appointed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Karin Holma, Tracy Fukui, Bryant Zane, and Andrew Park were appointed to the District Court of the First Circuit. Additionally, Courtney Naso, Elizabeth Paek-Harris, and Thomas Haia were appointed to the District Family Court of the First Circuit.

Sen. Karl Rhoads, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the pandemic had caused a backlog in the courts and the appointees are eager to begin working.

The session then adjourned sine die October 6 after the Senate confirmed the appointments.

A lobbyist and employer activity report will be due within 30 days of adjournment sine die of the special session on November 5 for expenditures and contributions relating to legislative action considered during the special session.

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September 22, 2020 •

Louisiana Lawmakers Announce Special Legislative Session to Address COVID-19, Unemployment

Louisiana State Capitol

Louisiana State Capitol

The Louisiana Legislature will convene in a special session on September 28 to address issues such as COVID-19, storm relief, and unemployment.

The Louisiana Legislature will convene in a special session on September 28 to address issues such as COVID-19, storm relief, and unemployment.

The Louisiana Constitution authorizes lawmakers to call themselves into special session upon the written petition of a majority of the elected members of each house.

Lawmakers may file and consider bills on 70 items. House Speaker Clay Schexnayder announced the special session will focus primarily on Hurricane Laura disaster relief and recovery efforts, on-going issues with COVID-19 relative to funding and the economy, and the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund.
Several House members have also asked to address the continued proclamations issued by Gov. John Bel Edwards during the pandemic and what many see as an imbalance of power.
The session is set to begin September 28 at 6 p.m. and must adjourn by 6 p.m. on October 27.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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September 16, 2020 •

Fort Collins City Council Approves LLC Contribution Amendments for Final Passage

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Two Fort Collins City Council campaign finance ordinances were approved for final passage on September 15. Ordinance 109-2020 will allow unexpended campaign contributions to a candidate committee to be contributed to a candidate committee established by the same candidate for […]

Two Fort Collins City Council campaign finance ordinances were approved for final passage on September 15.

Ordinance 109-2020 will allow unexpended campaign contributions to a candidate committee to be contributed to a candidate committee established by the same candidate for a subsequent campaign in a city election or to a candidate committee established after January 1, 2021.

The ordinance will also reduce the penalty for certain lower-level campaign finance violations from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil penalty.

Ordinance 112-2020 requires donations from LLCs to include statements that attribute the donation to specific LLC members.

The donations attributed through an LLC will then count toward individual donation limits.

Ordinance 112-2020 will also place a $100 cap on donations to political committees.

Both ordinances will become effective 10 days from the date of final passage on September 25.

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September 3, 2020 •

Fort Collins City Council Approves New Campaign Finance Amendments

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Fort Collins City Council approved several campaign finance changes on September 1 that will take effect in time for the April 2021 city election. The amendments include limits to how much individuals can contribute to limited liability corporations and political […]

Fort Collins City Council approved several campaign finance changes on September 1 that will take effect in time for the April 2021 city election.

The amendments include limits to how much individuals can contribute to limited liability corporations and political committees to support or oppose city races.

City Council voted 5-2 on the political committee and LLC contribution changes. This included votes in opposition from Mayor Wade Troxell and council member Ken Summers. In addition, council unanimously approved several other election code changes. The changes will apply to municipal elections for council seats, the mayoral race, and city ballot measures.

Current code allows LLCs to donate up to $75 to a candidate committee for a City Council member, or $100 to a committee for a mayoral candidate, which is the same limit for an individual. Because one person can be a member of multiple LLCs, people could bypass individual donation limits. This bypass could be accomplished by donating through various LLCs. Election finance records show this has happened in previous Fort Collins elections.

The amendment will bring this requirement into alignment with the state election code. The current code requires donations from LLCs to include statements that attribute the donation to specific LLC members. The donations attributed through an LLC will then count toward individual donation limits.

The political committee amendment will place a $100 cap on donations to political committees. There is currently no limit on contributions to political committees. This occurs when two or more people who come together to accept contributions or make expenditures to support or oppose one or more candidates.

The amendments will be presented for final passage on September 15.

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August 27, 2020 •

Texas Governor Sets Special Election for Senate Seat

Gov. Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg Abbott - by World Travel & Tourism Council

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered an emergency special election on September 29 for Texas State Senate District 30. The emergency order will elect a state senator to serve out the unexpired term of Pat Fallon, who announced his plans to resign […]

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered an emergency special election on September 29 for Texas State Senate District 30.

The emergency order will elect a state senator to serve out the unexpired term of Pat Fallon, who announced his plans to resign from the seat effective January 4, 2021.

Additionally, Fallon announced his plans to run for election to the U.S. House to represent the 4th Congressional District of Texas.

This move allowed Gov. Abbott to call the special election ahead of the vacancy.

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August 18, 2020 •

Utah Legislature Calls Special Session August 20 to Address COVID-19 Concerns

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

The Utah Legislature announced a special session beginning August 20 to consider COVID-19 relief, reopening schools, and to determine how to hold the November 3 general election. The August 20 special session marks the sixth special session of the year. […]

The Utah Legislature announced a special session beginning August 20 to consider COVID-19 relief, reopening schools, and to determine how to hold the November 3 general election.

The August 20 special session marks the sixth special session of the year. The election changes aim to modify a practice known as ballot harvesting or allowing a third party to collect and deliver multiple by-mail ballots.

Among the non-COVID issues to be discussed is a request for $20 million to bail out developers of a port in Oakland, California Utah lawmakers believe would ship Utah coal abroad.

The Legislature will hold the special session electronically, encouraging the public to participate by submitting inquires and feedback directly to their legislators or by remotely attending committee meetings.

The Legislature has exercised its ability to call itself into session, a method approved by voters in 2018. Before then, only governors could call a special session.

The special session does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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August 17, 2020 •

Nebraska Legislative Session Adjourned

Nebraska Capitol Building

Nebraska Capitol Building

The second session of the 106th Nebraska Legislature adjourned sine die on August 13 after 60 legislative days of a session interrupted by COVID-19. Speaker Jim Scheer suspended the session in mid-March in response to growing safety concerns regarding the […]

The second session of the 106th Nebraska Legislature adjourned sine die on August 13 after 60 legislative days of a session interrupted by COVID-19.

Speaker Jim Scheer suspended the session in mid-March in response to growing safety concerns regarding the global pandemic. After calling lawmakers back into session for three days in late March for the limited purpose of approving emergency funding to combat the pandemic, he suspended the session again.

Senators reconvened July 20 and finished the final 17 days of session in a changed physical environment of plastic barriers and physical distancing guidelines to limit contact between senators, staff, and the media.

The delaying of the session affected lobbyist reporting due dates. Any lobbyists or principals who received or expended more than $5,000 for lobbying purposes during the session must file special reports on September 15, 2020. Additionally, the lobbyist statement of activity is due on September 27, which signifies 45 days after adjournment sine die of the session.

Lawmakers passed 285 bills during the session, including measures to expand access to broadband Internet in rural areas, improve oversight of the state’s Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers and provide a tax exclusion for military retirement benefit pay.

Scheer is among six senators who are leaving the Legislature due to term limits. The others are Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz, Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, Bellevue Sen. Sue Crawford, Omaha Sen. Sara Howard and Omaha Sen. Rick Kolowski.

Chambers, whose legislative career will stand as the longest in state history, was first elected to the Legislature in 1970. He left office in 2008 due to term limits but returned in 2012.

The first session of the 107th Legislature is scheduled to convene on January 6, 2021.

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July 20, 2020 •

Nebraska Legislature Resumes Session

Nebraska Capitol Building

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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