February 23, 2017 •

Austin City Council Exempts Itself From Ethics Review

This month, the Austin City Council unanimously voted to exempt City Council and their staff from being subject to punishment for interference with personnel matters with a clause in the city charter aimed at preventing elected officials from pressuring city […]

Austin, Texas City HallThis month, the Austin City Council unanimously voted to exempt City Council and their staff from being subject to punishment for interference with personnel matters with a clause in the city charter aimed at preventing elected officials from pressuring city staff to go against their professional and unbiased judgment in making official decisions.

This vote came one year after City Council asked for amendments to the city code to give the City’s Ethics Review Commission authority over the interference clause which were unanimously approved in November 2016.

Under the new ordinance approved this month, allegations of City Council ethics violations will go to the Auditor and Ethics Review Commission and any issues arising under the City Charter Clause will be decided by the Council and City Manager.

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February 22, 2017 •

Oklahoma Governor Calls Special Election for House District 75

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin scheduled a special election to fill the upcoming vacancy in House District 75. Rep. Dan Kirby will voluntarily vacate the seat on March 1. Kirby’s resignation allows him to avoid a potentially embarrassing floor vote to […]

Kirby-Danx175Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin scheduled a special election to fill the upcoming vacancy in House District 75. Rep. Dan Kirby will voluntarily vacate the seat on March 1.

Kirby’s resignation allows him to avoid a potentially embarrassing floor vote to remove him from the legislative body amid sexual harassment allegations.

House Speaker Charles McCall had previously suspended Kirby from his chairmanship of the Business, Commerce, and Tourism Committee pending further investigation of the allegations. Kirby denies any wrongdoing.

A special primary election will be held May 9 with a special general election on July 11. If a special primary is not necessary, the May 9 election will be considered the special general election.

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February 22, 2017 •

Special Election for Michigan’s First House District Called

State Rep. Brian Banks resigned as part of a plea deal related to charges involving fraudulent pay stubs. To fill the vacancy, Gov. Rick Snyder announced a special election to fill the First House District seat. The special primary will […]

Banks_BrianState Rep. Brian Banks resigned as part of a plea deal related to charges involving fraudulent pay stubs.

To fill the vacancy, Gov. Rick Snyder announced a special election to fill the First House District seat.

The special primary will be held on August 8, 2017, and the special general election will be held on November 7, 2017.

The special election coincides with the regular election to save taxpayers money.

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February 22, 2017 •

Appeals Court Upholds Provisions of Senate Bill 571

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a U.S District Court’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction against provisions of Senate Bill 571, which enables corporations to deduct PAC contributions from employees’ paychecks while prohibiting labor unions […]

Sixth circuitThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a U.S District Court’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction against provisions of Senate Bill 571, which enables corporations to deduct PAC contributions from employees’ paychecks while prohibiting labor unions from doing the same.

Ultimately, Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton relied on similar cases stating “absent a burden on a constitutionally cognizable right, the government may regulate what is at best a speech-facilitating mechanism.” Michigan State AFL-CIO v. Schuette, No. 16-2100, at *8 (6th Cir., Feb. 9, 2017).

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February 22, 2017 •

South Dakota Lawmakers to Consider Ethics Bills Ahead of Crossover Deadline

Thursday, February 23, is South Dakota’s crossover day, which is the final day for lawmakers to pass bills out of their chamber of origin. Ahead of the deadline, lawmakers are set to consider campaign finance and ethics bills that were […]

South Dakota CapitolThursday, February 23, is South Dakota’s crossover day, which is the final day for lawmakers to pass bills out of their chamber of origin.

Ahead of the deadline, lawmakers are set to consider campaign finance and ethics bills that were proposed in the wake of the repeal of Initiated Measure 22.

A bill to create a state government accountability board is scheduled to be heard by the House on Wednesday, February 22, and another bill to increase the revolving door restriction to three years was scheduled to be heard by the House on Tuesday, February 21.

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February 20, 2017 •

South Carolina Special Elections to be Held June 20

Special elections will be held on June 20, 2017, to fill vacancies in South Carolina state House Districts 48 and 70, as well as in the state’s 5th congressional district. District 70 was left vacant last week following the death […]

South CarolinaSpecial elections will be held on June 20, 2017, to fill vacancies in South Carolina state House Districts 48 and 70, as well as in the state’s 5th congressional district.

District 70 was left vacant last week following the death of state Rep. Joseph Neal.

State Rep. Ralph Norman, representing District 48, resigned his seat last week to run for South Carolina’s 5th congressional district.

Former U.S. Rep Mick Mulvaney vacated his District 5 seat when he was confirmed as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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February 20, 2017 •

South Carolina Lawmaker Resigns from State House to Run for U.S. Congress

State Rep. Ralph Norman resigned his seat last week to focus on his campaign for U.S. House. The move puts pressure on his colleague and current state House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope to do the same. The men are […]

Former State Rep. Ralph Norman

State Rep. Ralph Norman resigned his seat last week to focus on his campaign for U.S. House. The move puts pressure on his colleague and current state House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope to do the same.

The men are among a half-dozen GOP candidates running to replace former U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney represented South Carolina’s congressional district until confirmed as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Norman’s move will save the taxpayers thousands of dollars if the election to fill his seat is held on the same day as the district race.

Pope is not planning to resign his House seat in light of the congressional race.

Photo of former State Rep. Ralph Norman from the South Carolina Legislature website.

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February 20, 2017 •

Missouri Lawmakers Want Future Governors to Disclose Details of Inaugural Contributions

Missouri House Democrats have introduced a bill to require future governors to publicly disclose donations for gubernatorial inauguration activities. Lawmakers hope to eliminate the appearance of corruption by allowing Missourians to see how much money corporations and lobbyists donate to […]

Missouri CapitolMissouri House Democrats have introduced a bill to require future governors to publicly disclose donations for gubernatorial inauguration activities.

Lawmakers hope to eliminate the appearance of corruption by allowing Missourians to see how much money corporations and lobbyists donate to fund inaugural events.

Recently, Gov. Eric Greitens issued a list of benefactors who contributed to his inaugural celebration but refused to confirm how much was contributed by each donor and how much money was actually spent.

He formed a nonprofit to raise money for the inauguration and the contributions, therefore, were not subject to state campaign finance laws.

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February 20, 2017 •

Hawaii Lawmakers Considering New Lobbyist Registration Threshold

Hawaii legislators are currently considering legislation aimed at closing an existing loophole in lobbyist registration and reporting rules. Currently, a lobbyist is one who spends more than five hours in a month or $750 in a reporting period attempting to […]

Hawaii-State-Capitol-300x239Hawaii legislators are currently considering legislation aimed at closing an existing loophole in lobbyist registration and reporting rules. Currently, a lobbyist is one who spends more than five hours in a month or $750 in a reporting period attempting to influence a ballot issue or legislative or administrative action.

The law is not clear, however, with regards to the activities and time to be included when determining if an individual meets the lobbyist threshold. As a result, it has been utilized as a way to avoid public disclosure.

House Bill 290 would close the loophole by amending the registration threshold. A lobbyist would include anyone paid or who expects to be paid more than $1,000 in a year for lobbying, anyone who spends five hours in one month or 10 hours in a calendar year on lobbying, or anyone who lobbies on three or more measures during a legislative session.

The bill is just one part of a legislative package supported by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. The Commission is also supporting bills to increase fines for ethics and lobbying violations, to amend various definitions related to lobbying, to amend special session lobbyist reporting requirements, and to allow lobbyist employers to file notices of termination.

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February 20, 2017 •

Governor Announces Special Election for Georgia Senate

Gov. Nathan Deal announced a special election will be held on April 18, 2017, for state Senate District 32. Sen. Judson Hill resigned from the seat to run in the special election for the Sixth Congressional District, scheduled for the […]

AlabamaGov. Nathan Deal announced a special election will be held on April 18, 2017, for state Senate District 32.

Sen. Judson Hill resigned from the seat to run in the special election for the Sixth Congressional District, scheduled for the same day, to replace Rep. Tom Price.

If necessary, a runoff election will be held on May 16. Candidate qualifying runs for three days, beginning February 22, 2017.

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February 15, 2017 •

Bill to Dismantle Montana Office of Political Practices Advances

This week the Montana House of Representatives passed House Bill 340, a bill to dismantle the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices. The bill was transmitted to the Senate on Tuesday after passing a final vote in the House. […]

Helena_capitolThis week the Montana House of Representatives passed House Bill 340, a bill to dismantle the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices. The bill was transmitted to the Senate on Tuesday after passing a final vote in the House.

The passage of House Bill 340, aiming to split the Commissioner’s current duties between the Secretary of State and Attorney General, was not unanimous.

Democratic lawmakers believe transferring power to two inherently partisan offices will not remedy what Republican lawmakers are characterizing as a partisan witch-hunt from current outgoing Commissioner Jonathon Motl.

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February 15, 2017 •

South Dakota House Passes Gift Restriction Bill

On Tuesday, the House unanimously passed House Bill 1073. The bill seeks to ban lawmakers from accepting gifts from lobbyists exceeding $100 in value per year. Lawmakers advanced HB 1073 in response to the recent repeal of Initiated Measure 22, […]

SouthDakota-StateSealOn Tuesday, the House unanimously passed House Bill 1073.

The bill seeks to ban lawmakers from accepting gifts from lobbyists exceeding $100 in value per year.

Lawmakers advanced HB 1073 in response to the recent repeal of Initiated Measure 22, which left the state with no limit on gifts lawmakers could accept from lobbyists.

The bill is now headed to the Senate for consideration.

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February 15, 2017 •

Missouri Ethics Commission Issues Advisory Opinions Regarding Constitutional Amendment 2

The Missouri Ethics Commission recently released a series of advisory opinions related to Constitutional Amendment 2. The amendment, passed by the voters in the November election, amended state campaign finance laws. The new advisory opinions address issues not fully articulated […]

Seal_of_Missouri.svgThe Missouri Ethics Commission recently released a series of advisory opinions related to Constitutional Amendment 2. The amendment, passed by the voters in the November election, amended state campaign finance laws.

The new advisory opinions address issues not fully articulated in the constitutional amendment. Opinions confirm: contribution limits do not apply to local candidates; the definitions of continuing and political action committees are substantially the same and are interpreted to be the same; and contribution limits only apply to continuing or political action committees if a contribution to the committee is designated for a specific candidate.

Another opinion finds a limited liability company to be a corporation for the purpose of the corporate contribution ban if the LLC is an eligible entity electing to be classified as a corporation under the federal tax code.

Other opinions relate to the eligibility of foreign corporations contributing to Missouri PACs, the application of the $25,000 per election aggregate limit to be received by a political party, and the applicability of contribution limits to state legislative campaign committees.

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February 14, 2017 •

Vermont Governor’s Staffers Urged to Avoid Sharing a Pint with Lawmakers, Lobbyists

Gov. Phil Scott issued an informal directive to staff and administrative personnel to stay clear of legislators and lobbyists in social situations. The governor is taking aim at the after-hours restaurant and bar scene in Montpelier where staff, lawmakers, and […]

gov-phil-scottGov. Phil Scott issued an informal directive to staff and administrative personnel to stay clear of legislators and lobbyists in social situations.

The governor is taking aim at the after-hours restaurant and bar scene in Montpelier where staff, lawmakers, and lobbyists are typically seen commingling.

Those in favor of the governor’s directive welcome the crackdown, while others believe forbidden fraternization is impossible to avoid given the small-town nature of the state capital.

Others are concerned the rule will hurt business owners who rely on these social outings for revenue.

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