October 5, 2011 •

IN.gov’s Success Story

Indiana’s digital communications reach 1 million people

IndianaIndiana’s government website, IN.gov, now boasts 1 million registered users – people who receive emails, text messages, and RSS feeds from the site. IN.gov links to 82 state agency websites and there are 1600 topics to which anyone can subscribe.

Govtech.com reports today about the landmark in the article “1 Million Users Register for Indiana Digital Updates” by Sarah Rich. The article says, “According to Indiana, the state is the first in the country to reach 1 million registered users through GovDelivery.”

It is easy to see why In.gov is such a success. The site is clean, nice-looking, and easily navigable. You can readily find social media links, a subscription menu, transparency information, links for offering suggestions and sending email, and even a QR code.

I couldn’t help but be impressed with the degree to which Indiana’s Office of Technology has done its homework. They have analyzed the usage of the website by monitoring whether the agencies are releasing information regularly for each subscription topic and whether anyone is subscribing to the feed. If not, the topic is removed. They have determined the program has saved them over $200,000 in costs by reducing the need to print and mail information.

State and local governments, take note!

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September 28, 2011 •

Ask the Experts – Keeping Track of Reportable Expenditures in Indiana

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.

Myra Cottril
Compliance Associate Myra Cottrill

Q. I’m registered as a legislative lobbyist in Indiana.  How should I keep track of reportable expenditures for my upcoming report due in November?

A. The Indiana Lobby Registration Commission (ILRC) is currently in the process of reviewing the reporting guidelines for lobbyist expenditures and gifts.  As fall kicks off and the November reporting deadline will soon be upon us, it is important to review key reporting changes.

Specifically, the ILRC does not consider a meal expenditure on behalf of a legislator to be a gift, but instead, an entertainment expenditure, as long as the lobbyist is present when the meal is consumed.  Per the ILRC’s reporting guidelines, please make sure you save an itemized receipt outlining the exact cost of the meals associated with reportable legislators.  Here are some important things to remember regarding entertainment expenditures, including meals:

  •  When determining how much to attribute to a particular legislator, only direct costs must be associated with the legislator.   Unlike most states, determining a pro-rata cost of an official’s meal by dividing the bill by the number of people present is not permissible.  Instead, you must save an itemized receipt, and attribute only the amount of the specific items ordered for that particular legislator.  Tax and tip must be appropriately allocated as well.
  • If you are not present when making an expenditure, this qualifies as a gift, and is subject to special reporting guidelines.  Starting with this reporting period (form was not developed until late April), a gift report must be submitted if a gift is given to a legislator equaling $50.00 per day, or $250.00 in the aggregate.   This report is due 15 business days after the gift is given.  A copy must be sent to the legislator who is named in the report.  Moreover, informed prior consent must be obtained from the legislator before the gift is given.

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(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.

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September 23, 2011 •

Indianapolis Purchasing Department Software Change

Complete by October 3

Indianapolis
Indianapolis

Today the Indianapolis Office of Finance and Management begins implementation of its new Enterprise Resource Planning software, which will cause a temporary halt on generating request for bids or quotes, and vendor payments.

The new system will allow informal quotes to be e-mailed as long as the Office has a vendor’s current contact information and a valid e-mail address. Invitations to bid will be formatted differently but contain the same information. The vendor notification of this change can be found here and the Purchasing Division home page can be found here.

The conversion is expected to be complete by October 3.

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September 2, 2011 •

New Municipalities Update- September 2, 2011

In a continuing effort to better serve the needs of its clients, State and Federal Communications, Inc. is expanding coverage of laws and regulations in more municipalities.

I-ComplyWe now provide information on lobbying, political contributions, and procurement lobbying for:

Tempe, Arizona

Evansville, Indiana

South Bend, Indiana

Flint, Michigan

North Las Vegas, Nevada

Reno, Nevada

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

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July 26, 2011 •

Fort Wayne Pay to Play Bill May Be Unlawful

Indiana Election Division Opinion

Ft. Wayne flag and Indiana sealAttorneys for the Indiana Election Division have opined that a proposed local ban on political contributions from city contractors violates state law.

The proposed Fort Wayne, Indiana ordinance prohibits companies, including subcontractors and family members, from doing business with the city if political donations were made to candidates or officials during the previous year. If a violation were not remedied by having the contributions returned, the company would be banned for three years from contracting with the city.

As quoted by The Journal Gazette, the authors of the opinion, Dale Simmons and Leslie Barnes, co-counsels at the Indiana Election Division, write “We believe the proposed ordinance unlawfully attempts to exercise the ‘power to conduct elections,’ which is a power expressly withheld from municipalities by the General Assembly. If this were not so, it would be easy to anticipate the confusion wrought in the administration of elections by numerous and conflicting local campaign finance regulations.”

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February 25, 2011 •

News You Can Use from Indiana

A Deputy Attorney General Fired for Comments Made on Twitter

Jim Sedor, the editor of State and Federal Communications’ News You Can Use, offers this breaking news item. Jeff Cox, a deputy attorney general in Indiana, has been fired for commenting on his Twitter account that police in Wisconsin should use live ammunition to disperse protesters.

For the full story, here is the article by Chris Sikich and Mary Beth Schneider in the Indianapolis Star: “Indiana official fired for remarks on Twitter” from February 24.

Here is a statement from the Attorney General’s Office on Jeff Cox’s online postings and his being fired.

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February 11, 2011 •

News You Can Use from Indiana

Lobby Registration Commission Fires Executive Director

According to an article in the Indianapolis Star News, Sarah Nagy has been fired as Executive Director of the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission. Nagy had been put on leave since January.

The article states the board voted unanimously and gave no reason for the action.

For the full story, read: “Lobby group fires executive director” from the February 11 edition.

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February 3, 2011 •

Indiana Bill Introduces Local Lobbying Laws

Covers Persons Seeking Business Relationships

Senator James Arnold has introduced a bill which would require persons seeking business relationships with local jurisdictions and their agencies to register and report activity and expenditures as lobbyists, whether or not the local jurisdictions have ordinances dealing with lobbying. Senate Bill 0330 defines ‘business relationship’ to include pecuniary interest contracts and purchases with an agency with an aggregate value of at least $100,000.

The bill calls for the reporting to be filed with the local county clerks where the lobbying activity occurs. A $100 a day late fine would be imposed for each day a lobbyist misses his or her filing date and lobbyists knowingly failing to register or file would face a Class A infraction.

The bill also allows local jurisdictions to adopt ethics ordinances and establish ethics commissions.

Map of Indiana by Jim Irwin on Wikipedia.

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January 20, 2011 •

Indiana Commission Removes Executive Director and General Counsel

Placed On Leave

According to a report in the Indiana Business Journal, Sarah Nagy, Executive Director and General Counsel for the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission has been placed on paid administrative leave. She received notice of the leave by e-mail the day before the state’s legislative lobbying registration renewals became due.

Ms. Nagy, who has held both jobs for 14 years, said she does not understand why she was put on leave.

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January 3, 2011 •

Proposed Bill for Disclosure of Lobbying of Local Indiana Governments

State Senator Wants Transparency

Indiana senator Jim ArnoldState senator Jim Arnold announced he will introduce legislation to regulate lobbying disclosure rules for all levels of local government in Indiana. In his proposed bill, spending by vendors bidding for contracts of $100,000 or more with a governmental body would trigger mandatory disclosure.

Local governmental officials, including county commissioners and city council members, would be required to report whenever a lobbyist spent money on them over a threshold limit.

The law is not intended to supersede local ordinances but would still establish and necessitate minimum requirements of disclosure.

Photo of State senator Jim Arnold courtesy of the Indiana Senate Web site.

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