February 26, 2013 •
Senate may consider House Bill 142 with additional limits on lobbyist gifts.
The House of Representatives has passed ethics legislation to bar lobbyist gifts to individual lawmakers and enact new rules on lobbyist registration.
House Bill 142 passed 164-4 on Monday, February 26, 2013 and now goes to the Senate.
Critics hope the Senate provides a limit for the gift ban exceptions, which allow for unlimited gifts to groups of legislators such as committees and caucuses.
February 5, 2013 •
Regulations to clarify gift restrictions
The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) is currently in the process of developing draft regulations for the state’s gift laws. These draft regulations will attempt to provide clarity and guidance to those regulated by the commission.
The draft regulations concerning gifts given by lobbyists allow lobbyists to follow a step-by-step guide to determine whether he or she is allowed to legally give the gift. JCOPE is accepting written comments on the draft regulations until February 15, 2013. JCOPE will then use those written comments to draft proposed regulations.
Updated February 13, 2013: The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics has extended the deadline to submit written comments on the draft regulations to March 8, 2013.
January 30, 2013 •
Lobbyist definition expanded, gifts restricted
House Speaker David Ralston has unveiled an ethics reform bill aimed at expanding the definition of a lobbyist and restricting gifts from a lobbyist. House Bill 142 would define a lobbyist to include an individual who advocates for the purpose of influencing a public officer whether the individual is compensated or working pro bono.
The new definition does away with both the $1,000 expenditure and 10 percent time spent thresholds for lobbyist registration. The bill, as originally filed, would ban even the smallest expenditure of a lobbyist if for the benefit of a single member of the General Assembly.
Lobbyists would still be permitted to spend on committees, caucuses, and expenses to public officers for trips to conferences and meetings.
January 17, 2013 •
Possible changes to gift law and revolving door provisions
The Florida Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections is working on a proposed bill to revise the state’s ethics law.
The draft language relating to lobbying and gift law in the bill establishes a fine for executive branch lobbyists for failure to provide required information or knowingly providing false information in a report, and prohibits vendors from providing gifts to reporting individuals or procurement employees. Other changes the committee is considering include:
- Restrictions on former legislators’ employment as a lobbyist, such as ban on executive branch lobbying and a prohibition on becoming a partner, principal, or employee of a firm whose primary business is lobbying the state legislature within the two years after a legislator leaves office; and
- A prohibition on or reduced gift limit for gifts to covered individuals from committees of continuous existence, or CCEs. House Speaker Will Weatherford has called for elimination of CCEs, which are often used by legislators to pay for meals, travel, and gifts.
The committee plans to have final draft language available on January 18, and plans to consider the proposed bill at its January 22 meeting.
January 14, 2013 •
Rule allows for some exceptions
The Senate has imposed a $100 limit on gifts from lobbyists. Senators approved the gift cap 42-12 on the opening day of the 2013 General Assembly session as part of new rules governing the chamber’s operations for the current two-year term.
The new rule does not apply to travel costs or to gifts provided to groups of senators, including members of committees. The rule also allows lobbyists to give $100 gifts on multiple occasions.
Although not bound by senate rules, house leaders plan to introduce legislation later this week calling for a complete ban on lobbyist gifts.
Photo of the Georgia State Capitol courtesy of connor.carey on Wikipedia.
October 8, 2012 •
Staff will obtain additional public input
The Fair Political Practices Commission has announced cancellation of the October 18, 2012 meeting. Regulations previously scheduled for review included a requirement for political committees to report expenses associated with online communications such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Biennial adjustment reviews of campaign contribution limits, voluntary expenditure ceilings, and gift limits have also been postponed.
These and other potential regulation changes are tentatively scheduled to be considered during the December 13, 2012 commission meeting at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will be held in Board Chambers Room 310, County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, California 92101.
October 2, 2012 •
Keep up with the latest government relations news with these articles:
Via Eric Brown’s Political Activity Law blog – Missouri:“Mo. Sen. candidate wants ban on all lobbyist gifts to state lawmakers” by Marshall Griffin in St. Louis Public Radio.
Wisconsin: “Former Assembly speaker now a lobbyist” by Jason Stein in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Rules of the Game: Shining a Light on Political ‘Dark Money‘” by Eliza Newlin Carney in Roll Call.
Arizona: “Probe into Horne’s campaign finances leads to report over alleged hit-and-run” by Howard Fischer in the East Valley Tribune.
“Mashable Special Report: How Digital Is Transforming Politics” by Josh Catone in Mashable.
“How the Internet will Change the Government” by Henry Brown in Govloop.
September 25, 2012 •
Gifts from lobbyists between registration periods are targeted
Council President Jack Young has introduced legislation on behalf of city watchdog officials to close gaps in Baltimore’s ethics code after reviewing attempts to take advantage of loopholes.
The bill would prohibit council members from accepting gifts from anyone who has lobbied the city in the previous 12 months, even if the lobbyist is no longer registered.
Last January a prominent lobbyist attempted to give a gift, including tickets, to a council member during a short interlude between the expiration of the lobbyist’s 2011 registration and the eventual 2012 registration renewal.
September 10, 2012 •
Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.
Q. Are there any additional compliance requirements of which to be aware because this is a Presidential election year?
A. In a word, no. However, given the substantial increase in federal, state, and local contributions, it is important to keep in mind some compliance basics during an election year:
- Be aware of what restrictions exist in a specific jurisdiction regarding pre-election contributions and/or communications. Several states have laws restricting contributions within a certain time period of an election. Federally, there are time-period restrictions associated with election communications;
- Track reportable contributions that may only come into play during an election year. For instance, at the federal level, contributions made to an inaugural committee are reportable on the LD-203;
- The same gift laws apply leading up to an election as the rest of the year. Understand the definition of a gift as it relates to a “covered official” from any given jurisdiction and don’t violate it because you happen to be attending an election-related activity, including conventions;
- Most jurisdictions have personal, corporate and/or PAC contribution limits. Be diligent in monitoring contributions so as not to surpass those limits;
- Don’t rely on a “covered official” from any jurisdiction to know his/her jurisdiction’s limits or restrictions. Be proactive in determining restrictions ahead of time; and
- Consider implementing “Election Year” guidelines within your organization to keep everyone on the same page.
In an election year, the increase in activity coupled with jurisdictional differences can make compliance a little trickier. By following these fundamental guidelines, you are more likely to ensure that at the end of the day you can say, “I Comply.” As always, should you have any questions regarding your compliance efforts, don’t hesitate to refer to State and Federal Communication’s on-line source books or contact us directly.
You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: email@example.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.
March 27, 2012 •
Charitable event tickets subject to the gift law limits.
The Cuyahoga County Inspector General, Nailah Byrd, has issued an advisory opinion (IGADV-0005) regarding whether a public official or employee’s acceptance of a ticket to a charitable fundraising event violates any provision of the ethics ordinance.
The opinion states that while the ethics ordinance does not explicitly prohibit the acceptance of a ticket, it does require certain conditions to be met.
A charitable event ticket given by a lobbyist or contractor must not include an extravagant or lavish meal, entertainment of significant value, or a fair market value price exceeding $75.
February 7, 2012 •
Senate Bill 391 could bring new requirements
Georgia Senator Josh McKoon has introduced Senate Bill 391, which could put limits on gifts lobbyists give to lawmakers in the state, as wells as other requirements.
For the full story read “With House bill stalled, senator targets lobbyist gifts” by Kristina Torres in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Photo of the Georgia State Capitol Building by AUtiger on Wikipedia.
November 21, 2011 •
Here are highlights from the latest edition of News You Can Use:
From the States and Municipalities:
State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 80 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
News You Can Use is a news service provided at no charge only to clients of our online Executive Source Guides, or ALERTS™ consulting clients.
November 15, 2011 •
The Federal Office of Government Ethics (O.G.E.) is extending the comment period for its proposed regulations concerning gifts from lobbyists.
In September, the O.G.E. proposed rules which limit, for lobbyists, the exceptions of the ban on gifts for federal employees. The proposed rules arose because of a Presidential Executive Order which had called for the O.G.E. “to apply the lobbyist gift ban set forth [in the order] to all executive branch employees.”
The period for written comments ended yesterday, November 14. However, today the O.G.E. announced it is extending the comment period to December 14.
This post follows an earlier LobbyComply post concerning this rule, O.G.E. Proposes New Rules on Lobbyist Gifts.
October 31, 2011 •
Charter Proposes Ethics and Lobbying Reforms
On November 8, Detroit voters will consider a city charter proposed to reform the city government by bolstering ethics and reducing corruption. The proposed charter creates a board of ethics and the office of inspector general to investigate alleged ethical or criminal violations.
The charter seeks to improve transparency by requiring lobbyists and contractors to reveal financial connections with elected officials. Additionally, public servants are prohibited from accepting a gift, honoraria, or anything of value from individuals or companies seeking to do business with the city and a company can be barred from doing business with the city if found to be involved in contractual bribery or corruption.
Photo of the Detroit skyline by Shawn Wilson on Wikipedia.
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.