June 7, 2012 •
Ask the Experts – Do I need to register as a lobbyist?
Q. I am not currently registered as a lobbyist and I would like to send a letter to all state legislators in support of pending legislation. Do I need to register as a lobbyist?
A. The act of sending a letter in support of or in opposition to legislation can be enough to trigger the lobbyist registration requirement in a state. Whether or not registration is required is dependent upon the lobbyist registration threshold in any given state.
Some states have thresholds based on the definition of lobbying whereby engaging in a lobbying activity will require lobbyist registration. For example, in a state where registration is required upon receipt of compensation to encourage the passage, defeat, approval, or modification of legislation by members of the legislature, lobbyist registration would be required prior to sending the letter. Iowa is an example of this type of state.
Other states have thresholds based on the amount of time spent lobbying or preparing to lobby. In Maine, an individual is permitted to spend eight hours lobbying before registration is required. In such a state, tracking your time while preparing the letter will be important in determining if registration is required.
Please consult the lobbyist registration threshold in your jurisdiction prior to sending any correspondence to a public official.
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