April 15, 2011 •
“Oliver Wendell Holmes, former Justice of the United States Supreme Court, once said, ‘Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.'”
Well, it is April 15th, and I couldn’t resist the temptation. This week’s Highlighted Site of the Week is the Library of Congress’ History of the US Income Tax website, as well as a few other great pages.
The site opens with the line: “If, in the midst of sorting receipts and studying the latest changes in the US income tax laws, you suddenly wonder ‘What is the origin of this annual ritual in the weeks leading up to April 15th?’ here are some places you can go for answers.”
What you get on the Library of Congress site is a brief history of the laws that have regulated the taxation of personal income (on and off) since the time of the Civil War. They offer a bibliography of printed material for further reading, but where they really shine is in their links to other sites.
Among the links, you will find the U.S. Department of the Treasury, its history of the Treasury and its history of taxes. The Library of Congress also points us in the direction of the IRS’ Brief History of the IRS page.
By far the most fun will be found at the Tax History Project, where you can wander around the Tax History Museum with its interactive time line. The museum covers topics from our origins of colonial commerce circa 1650, up until today. You can visit an image gallery of Cartoons and Posters from the History of U.S. Taxation, or study the tax returns of President Barack Obama, former presidents like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and former presidential candidates at the Presidential Tax Returns page. You can also find many papers and speeches on taxation, like Ronald Reagan’s 1986 speech on Tax Reform.
Best wishes to you for your tax filing and if you need a lift of spirit, here is an article about all the freebies companies are offering on Tax Day!
April 14, 2011 •
Acting Governor Tomblin signed House Bill 2464 into law late last week.
This ethics bill, which takes effect on July 1, 2011, prohibits members of the state legislature, elected executive branch officials, agency heads, and certain other appointed officials from acting as lobbyists for one year after leaving office.
Additionally, this legislation will require a public official who files financial disclosure statements to reveal employment information and other “business interests” of his or her spouse.
The spousal disclosures are designed to shine light on additional conflicts of interest an official may have even without a personal stake in a matter.
Photo of the West Virginia State Capitol by Garkeith on Wikipedia.
April 13, 2011 •
House Approves Ethics Measure in Georgia; Senate to Review Measure Next
The Georgia House of Representatives voted Tuesday to close a loophole in the state ethics law concerning expenditures made on behalf or for the benefit of public employees.
The House voted to amend Senate Bill 160 to add provisions requiring lobbyist reporting of expenditures made on behalf or for the benefit of a public employee for the purpose of influencing a public officer after Advisory Opinion 2011-03, released by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, concluded state law did not require the reporting of such expenditures.
The bill must now return to the Senate for a vote on the House amendment.
Photo of the Georgia State Capitol dome by Connor.carey on Wikipedia.
April 13, 2011 •
New Mexico Law Closes Revolving Door for Government Procurement Employees
Governor Martinez has signed Senate Bill 432 prohibiting state and local government employees who are involved in the contracting process from subsequently being employed by a contractor. The bill expands the existing Governmental Conduct Act to apply to state and local government employees involved in the procurement process.
Under the new law, state agencies are barred from entering into contracts with a business represented by a person who has been an employee of the state within one year if the value of the contract is in excess of $1,000 and the contract is a direct result of an official act by the former employee. The law becomes effective July 1, 2011.
April 12, 2011 •
Colorado Independent Ethics Commission Releases Position Statement on Adjusted Gift Limit
The Independent Ethics Commission released Position Statement 11-01 on Friday, April 8, 2011. In this statement, the Commission adjusted the limit on gifts to public officials and employees in the state of Colorado to $53 per calendar year, up from $50.
Pursuant to Article XXIX section 3(6), which was part of the 2006 voter-approved Amendment 41, the limit is to be adjusted based upon inflation every four years. This is the first such adjustment required.
Photo of downtown Denver by 33mhz on Wikipedia.
April 7, 2011 •
April 7, 2011 •
The first of two compliance dates for Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 206(4)-5, which had an effective date of September 13, 2010, passed on March 14, 2011.
The rule prohibits investment advisers from providing investment advisory services for compensation to a government entity within two years after a contribution to an official of that government entity is made, either by the investment adviser or by any covered associate of the investment adviser. This prohibition does not apply to contributions made by a covered associate to officials for whom the covered associate was entitled to vote at the time of the contributions if the contributions did not exceed $350 in the aggregate to any one official, per election. The prohibitions also do not apply to contributions made by a covered associate to officials for whom the covered associate was not entitled to vote at the time of the contributions if the contributions did not exceed $150 in the aggregate to any one official, per election.
An additional prohibition prevents an investment adviser from providing or agreeing to provide, directly or indirectly, payment to any person to solicit a government entity for investment advisory services unless that person is a regulated person or is an executive officer, general partner, managing member, or employee of the investment adviser. Nor may such advisers coordinate or solicit any person or political action committee to make a contribution to an official of a government entity to which the adviser is providing or seeking to provide investment advisory services or payment to a political party of a state or locality where the investment adviser is providing or seeking to provide investment advisory services to a government entity.
The rule has two important compliance dates. The March 14, 2011 date applied to investment advisers subject to the rule. The other compliance date, September 13, 2011, is when investment advisers will no longer be able to use third parties to solicit government business except in compliance with this rule. Additionally, advisers to registered investment pools have until the September 13 date to comply with this rule.
April 6, 2011 •
Planning on attending NCSL and want to be involved with Ohio Night in San Antonio? Look no further.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. is overseeing the planning of Ohio Night at Biga on the Bank, next to the Westin on the Riverwalk. We will have a great space with a fabulous view to interact with the Ohio legislators attending the event. My assistant with this event is none other than Former Ohio Senate President Finan, now with Calfee Halter.
The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 10 at Biga on the Bank. If you are interested in joining, please complete the form, and we will include you in our austere group of sponsors. [Click here for Ohio Night form.]
For more information about the NCSL Legislative Summit 2011, go to their website for details.
Until next month, check out the meetings being held all over the country and plan on joining us at the event of the summer, Ohio Night at NCSL.
April 6, 2011 •
A bill has been introduced in the General Assembly to simultaneously broaden the scope of the state’s campaign finance reporting laws and simplify the reporting schedule.
Under Assembly Bill 447, all committees making expenditures or receiving contributions of more than $500 would be required to file quarterly statements.
The legislation would eliminate independent expenditure reports, odd-year committee reports, and certain supplemental pre-election reports. Instead, all officers, candidates, and committees would have one pre-election report due 16 days before an election.
Late contribution reports would still be required within 24 hours of making a contribution near an election.
April 5, 2011 •
Prior formats will not be accepted
Reports using earlier versions will not be accepted.
Those using commercial software are advised to contact his or her vendor to ensure compliance with the latest electronic filing format.
April 5, 2011 •
Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.
Q. If I receive an invoice from my contract lobbyist for services rendered during one reporting period, but I do not make payment on the invoice until the next reporting period, how do I know when to accurately report the payment?
A. You need to determine whether your particular state uses the cash or accrual method of disclosure.
The cash method is based on when money is actually transacted; in other words, when funds in point of fact change hands from client to contract lobbyist. In direct contrast to the cash method, the accrual method focuses on the obligation to pay as opposed to when funds actually change hands. Essentially, when you receive the invoice from your contract lobbyist, you are obligated to pay.
So which date do you use for reporting purposes? Is it the date you actually mail the check to the contract lobbyist, or the date you receive the invoice? These rarely, if ever, occur on the same date and therein lies the issue: what happens when these dates fall in different reporting periods?
Some states, such as Tennessee and Texas, specifically provide by statute or rule the method of disclosure that should be followed. When the law is silent, the most prudent thing to do is call the disclosure office for that particular jurisdiction and get an answer. Be sure to take the name and title of the person you spoke with and keep it in your records. You may often hear, “It doesn’t matter; report the expense however you choose.” This sounds great, but in reality is very frustrating. Whichever method you choose, be consistent. If you decide upon the cash method, document that and use it for all future reports.
When it comes to your contract lobbyists, be sure they are using the disclosure method required by law. This can be important in an audit when the state looks to see if your report aligns with the contract lobbyist’s report. If the method is optional, discuss with your contract lobbyist which method they intend to use and be consistent.
You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.
April 5, 2011 •
Measure Would Limit Contributions to $5,000
The Secretary of State has approved a summary for a proposed ballot measure to limit campaign contributions to candidates in Missouri.
The proposal would prohibit candidates from accepting more than $5,000 per donor for each election.
The Secretary of State’s action clears the way for supporters to begin collecting the more than 91,000 signatures needed to put the question to voters in 2012.
Photo of Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan courtesy of the Secretary of State website.
April 4, 2011 •
Plan to say hello at future events where State and Federal Communications will be attending and/or speaking regarding compliance issues.
April 3-5, 2011 – NASPO, Boston, Massachusetts
April 14-16, 2011 – NCSL Spring Forum, Washington, D.C.
April 20, 2011 – DiversityBusiness.com Award, Washington, D.C.
May 5-6, 2011 – Ohio State Bar Association Annual Convention, Booth 5, Columbus, Ohio
May 5-7, 2011 – NCSL Spring Executive Committee Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts
April 4, 2011 •
Findings show most of the industry is reporting properly.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report stating that, with a small percentage of exceptions, most lobbyists comply with the federal lobbying disclosure laws.
Here is the full text of the report from the GAO.
For a good summary of the report, read Roll Call’s article “GAO: K Street Largely Complying With Disclosure Rules” by Alex Knott.
The Roll Call article noted that the annual report to Congress is required as part of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act. The scope of the results included analysis of disclosure reports for the fourth quarter 2009 and the first three quarters of 2010.
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.