June 20, 2013 •

New Municipalities Update- June 20, 2013

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:

Hilliard, Ohio

York County, Pennsylvania

DuPage County, Illinois

Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Surrey, British Columbia

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June 10, 2013 •

Pennsylvania Department of State Proposes Lobbyist Registration Fee Increase

Increase, if approved, would not take effect until 2015

Lobbyists and employers working in Pennsylvania may see registration fees skyrocket the next time they register. The Department of State has proposed a rule increasing the registration fee for lobbyists and their employers from $200 to $700 per biennial period.

The State Department is asking for the fee increase so they can fund its lobbying disclosure arm completely from the registration fees and without taxpayer dollars. According to the proposed rule, during the 2011-2012 biennial period, it cost the Department $1,800,394 to administer the lobbying law, and it only received $733,879 in registration fees. The Department believes it will become completely self-sustaining with the $500 increase in registration fees.Flag of Pennsylvania

The proposed rule will now go through a 30-day public comment period ending July 1, 2013. After the public comment period, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission will be allowed to convey any comments, recommendations, or objections to the proposed rule. Once these two steps have been completed, the State Department will be allowed to go through with the increased fee.

The increased fee will not become effective until January 1, 2015 if approved.

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April 3, 2013 •

Pittsburgh Mayoral Race Now Without Contribution Limits

Judge tosses city limits due to a former candidate’s contribution to himself

Downtown PittsburghThe contributions limits in the upcoming Pittsburgh mayoral election have been removed by the courts. Judge Joseph James voided the city’s contribution limits because of one candidate’s decision to contribute his own money to his campaign.

Under city law, candidates may only accept $2,000 from individuals and $4,000 from PACs per covered election. However, if a candidate decides to use personal resources in excess of $50,000 for his or her campaign, then the contribution limitations are thrown out for all candidates in that specific race.

In this situation, Councilman Bill Peduto requested an injunction barring former state Auditor General Jack Wagner from using nearly $300,000 in contributions collected during previous campaigns. The judge ruled the use of the previous campaign funds to be a contribution, which would have exceeded the city’s contribution limits.

Wagner’s lawyers then turned their attention to Michael Lamb, the city controller who withdrew from the race earlier in the week. Lamb had given his campaign $53,000 of his own money, which voided the contribution limits and allowed Wagner to use the $300,000 in question. Lamb attempted to give $3,000 from the campaign back to himself in order to undo the contribution, but the judge ruled that the refund did not repair the breach.

The primary election for the mayoral office takes place on May 21, 2013 and the general election on November 5, 2013.

Photo of downtown Pittsburgh by Theeditor93 on Wikipedia.

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March 12, 2013 •

Pennsylvania Bill Proposes Gift Limit on Lobbyists

Governor’s office supports government reforms

Seal of PennsylvaniaThe Pennsylvania House of Representatives has introduced a bill with ramifications on the way lobbyists do business in the commonwealth. Currently, lobbyists may give gifts to anyone, provided there is no understanding the recipient will take an official action as a result of the gift. House Bill 855, however, would do away with this practice and limit the ability of lobbyists to give gifts.

The bill, introduced by representatives from both sides of the aisle, would prohibit public officers and candidates from receiving gifts from lobbyists and principals exceeding $50 in a calendar year. The bill would also limit the hospitality received by public officers and candidates from lobbyists and principals to $500 in a calendar year.

Gifts to public officials has become a hot topic in the commonwealth after reports surfaced saying Governor Tom Corbett has accepted gifts in the past.

When asked whether the governor would support a gift ban, spokeswoman Kelli Roberts said, “Governor Corbett has a tremendous record of transparency and enacting state government reforms, therefore, of course, he would be open to discussing any measures that help to further those goals.”

Bills of this nature usually have a tough time gaining legislative approval, but with the current climate in the commonwealth, House Bill 855 may have a better chance to survive than most.

Seal of the State of Pennsylvania art by Henrik on Wikipedia.

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February 11, 2013 •

Philadelphia Councilman Proposes Change to Contribution Laws

Proposal in response to exposure of law’s loophole

Seal of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia Councilman James Kenney has proposed an amendment to the city’s contribution limits to close a loophole in the law. Currently, individuals may not contribute more than $2,900 per year to a candidate and PACs are limited to $11,500 per year to a candidate.

It was recently uncovered by NewsWorks, through campaign finance reports for 2012, that Councilman Bill Green received $35,000 in contributions from one person. This would appear to violate the city’s contribution limits. However, it is perfectly legal under the current law.

According to the city’s Board of Ethics director, Shane Creamer, a person could accept as much money as they wanted until they became an official candidate. The funds would have to be kept separate and it would be difficult to legally do, but it is not illegal.

Kenny’s proposed amendment would help to shut this loophole down. Under the proposed ordinance, the contribution limits would include incumbents, which the proposed ordinance defines as any individual who currently holds elective city office. With this new law in effect, Green’s actions in accepting the large contributions would have been illegal.

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January 21, 2013 •

Pennsylvania Representative to Introduce Campaign Finance Bill

Bill will prohibit lottery operators from contributing

Pennsylvania State SealWith Pennsylvania poised to outsource control of the state lottery, Representative Brandon Neuman plans to ensure political contributions do not muddy the waters. Neuman has announced plans to introduce legislation making it illegal for any company running the state lottery to make campaign contributions to elected officials and political candidates.

Corporate contributions are already banned in the commonwealth, but Neuman sees this prohibition extending to anyone involved in making profits from the lottery’s operation. Neuman is worried about the integrity of the contract process and said “We don’t even want the perception of doing things because of campaign donations.”

The lottery deal is still being reviewed and must ultimately be approved by the attorney general.

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January 18, 2013 •

Pennsylvania Sets Special Election Dates

Voters in two districts will elect new representatives

PA CapitolThe state has announced that two special elections will be held on May 21 to replace two outgoing state representatives. In district 42, voters will be looking for Matt Smith’s replacement after he ran and won for both a seat in the state house and state senate.

The voters in district 95 will be replacing Eugene DePasquale, who left his position to become the state’s auditor general.

Primary elections will not be held for either of these seats, as the parties will be choosing their nominees.

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May 24, 2012 •

Government Ethics in the News

An investigation, charges, fines, and a house arrest in today’s ethics articles.

ethicsFederal: “Group wants investigation of lobby shop after Owens’s Taiwan trip” by Mike Zapler in Politico.

District of Columbia: “Second Gray aide charged in campaign probe” by Tom Howell, Jr. in The Washington Times.

Missouri: “Already charged by feds, former Gov. Wilson fined by ethics cops, too” by Jake Wagman in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Pennsylvania: “Veon’s ex-aide gets house arrest” by Brad Bumsted in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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May 2, 2012 •

Here is the Latest Redistricting News

Today we have items from eight states:

U.S. Congressional DistrictsAlaska: “Redistricting map solutions elusive as court battle looms” by Richard Mauer in the Anchorage Daily News.

Kansas: “Kansas Senate OKs redistricting plan” by Brad Cooper in the Kansas City Star.

Kentucky: “Kentucky Supreme Court cites redistricting law as unconstitutional” by Franklin Clark in the Cadiz Record.

Mississippi: “Mississippi Senate unveils its redistricting map” by The Associated Press in the Clarion Ledger.

New Hampshire: “House redistricting plan faces more legal challenges” by Garry Rayno in the Union Leader.

Pennsylvania: “Redistricting panel to receive input on new Pa. maps” by Ali Lanyon (Associated Press) on WHTM.

South Carolina: “Supreme Court considering fate of primary candidates” by Gina Smith in The State.

South Carolina: “SC justices consider fate of dozens of candidates” by Jeffrey Collins (Associated Press) in the Spartanburg Herald Journal.

Vermont: “Vt. lawmakers finish redistricting” on NECN.com.

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March 26, 2012 •

Delay Announced for Electronic Filing of Philadelphia Lobbyist Expense Reports

Due Date Remains Same

Flag of PhiladelphiaThe Philadelphia Board of Ethics issued an advisory alert announcing a delay in the availability of their online filing system for receipt of lobbyist and principal’s quarterly expense reports. The board’s online expense report function will not be available by April 30, the next date the reports are due.

However, because the quarterly expense reports, covering January 3 through March 31, remain due on April 30, the board intends to create an interim paper form expense reporting method. Lobbyists and principals will be able to fill out the interim form on the board’s website, which can then be downloaded and signed. The signed copy must be mailed or delivered to the board by the same April 30 deadline.

The board will advise all registered principals when the interim reporting method becomes available.

The current registration procedure is unaffected by the board’s announcement.

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January 23, 2012 •

Philadelphia Adjusts Contribution Limits

Increases Made to Reflect Changes in C.P.I.

PhiladelphiaThe board of ethics has released new campaign contribution limits adjusted for changes in the cost of living.

The new limits for individual contributions have been raised from $2,600 to $2,900 and for political committees or businesses from $10,600 to $11,500.

When the campaign finance law was passed in 2008, a provision was included to increase the maximum contribution every four years based upon the board’s review of the consumer price index.

Photo of Philadelphia by Parent5446 on Wikipedia.

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January 3, 2012 •

Philadelphia Lobbyist Registration Begins

Board of Ethics Creates Interim Paper Filing System

Seal of PhiladelphiaThe City of Philadelphia Board of Ethics has provided interim paper registration forms and instructions for lobbyists, lobbying firms, and principals to be used until an online registration and reporting system is completed.  The registration forms allow filers to fill-in information before printing.

The board reminds filers that registration is not complete until a form is printed, signed, and mailed or delivered to the board of ethics with the registration fee.

Registration must occur within ten days after both the commencement of lobbying and the exceeding of thresholds.  However, no event occurring prior to January 3, 2012 is relevant to determining the thresholds, registration date, or expense reporting.

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November 16, 2011 •

Enactment of Philadelphia Lobbying Law Set for January 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: The Board of Ethics has released an advisory alert stating lobbyist and principal registration will not be required prior to January 3, 2012.

Seal of PhiladelphiaThe first reporting period will be the first quarter of 2012, and the first expense report is due April 30, 2012.

Regulation No. 9, regarding lobbying, will become effective January 3, 2012. The Board of Ethics intends to recommend amendments to Regulation No. 9 to bring it into conformity with amendments made to Philadelphia City Code Chapter 20-1200 by Bill No. 110556.

In the event an online filing system is not available by January 3, 2012, an interim registration method will be provided by the Board of Ethics.

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November 1, 2011 •

Mayor Signs Revision to Philadelphia Lobbying Law

Law Narrows Definition of Lobbying and Covers More Government Agencies

PhiladelphiaPHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA:  Mayor Michael Nutter has approved a bill which alters restrictions on lobbyists to correct problems with the lobbying law approved last year. The original law was viewed as overly broad by many, including the Philadelphia Bar Association, which had threatened to fight it in court. This version more narrowly defines lobbying activity.

The new bill also expands the number of agencies covered under the law to include the Philadelphia School District, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.

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