Presentation on theme: "Significant Changes to Lobbying Law October 15, 2009 James A.W. Shaw, Esq. Segal Roitman, LLP."— Presentation transcript:
Significant Changes to Lobbying Law October 15, 2009 James A.W. Shaw, Esq. Segal Roitman, LLP
Introduction to Lobbying
Summary of Current Definition Under Existing Law A Lobbyist is a a person who for compensation acts to influence legislation, or the governors approval/veto of legislation. and/or an a person who for compensation acts to influence the decision of any officer or employee of the state executive branch concerning legislation, state regulations, or procurement decisions. Note: Involves some contact.
Client vs. Lobbyist Entity : an individual or business entity that contracts with another individual or business entity to receive lobbyist services. A union can be a client. : an entity providing lobbyist services, consisting of at least one legislative or executive agent. A union cannot be a lobbyist entity unless it provides lobbying services to organizations other than itself.
Regulating Lobbyists Lobbyists in MA are currently monitored by the Secretary of States Office However, recently MA lobbying laws have been accused of being too weak/undefined, prompting new legislation What is monitored: Who is Lobbying Hours Spent Lobbying Money earned from Lobbying Gifts given to officials from Lobbyists Type of Lobbying being done Which Lobbyists/ Lobbying Entities are associated with which client
In the News… Leaders Approve Ethics Revamp Don't Pay More for Business as Usual Despite Ethics Bill, Lobbyists Carry On Patrick Signs Ethics Bill Into Law This bill will give us the tools we need to promote ethics in government. Its a terrific bill, and Im very pleased. - Ethics Commission Chairman Charles Swartwood Theres no doubt theres been a lot of lobbying on the lobbying bill by the lobbyists -Secretary of State William F. Galvin Our political process in Massachusetts is not for sale. Those trying to use corrupt practices and bribery will be caught and will be punished. - Representative Peter V. Kocot, Chairman of the House Committee on Ethics
The Bill: An Act to Improve the Laws Relating to Campaign Finance, Ethics and Lobbying
The New Law Signed into Law by Gov. Patrick on July 1, 2009 Will go into effect January 1, 2010 (had been 9/29)
New Definition of Lobbying Present Law Contact with State Public Officials Under New Law Contact with State Public Officials Strategizing Planning Researching Background Work (when connected w/ an actual communication)
Lobbying or Not? The Executive Board of Local 1000 wants to convince their state representative to support an increase to the state minimum wage. The E- Board meets to discuss what their President will say in a meeting with their state rep. The meeting eventually takes place. This counts as lobbying under the new definition for any E-Board member who is: (a) paid for their work; and (b) has at least one communication with a state official. New Definition of Lobbying
Lobbying or Not? The Local 1000 E-Board debates at its monthly meeting what its legislative priorities for the year should be – should the union support health care reform, casino gambling, or both – and communicates those priorities to a state official. This counts as lobbying under the new definition, assuming it results in actual communication with a government employee. New Definition of Lobbying
Lobbying or Not? The Local 1000 E-Board debates whether to endorse Deval Patrick or Tim Cahill for Governor. This time does not count as lobbying under the new definition, because it was not connected to an actual communication with a government employee. New Definition of Lobbying
Lobbying or Not? The president of Local 1000 receives a request from the local state senator for information about wages and working conditions of the union members as part of a debate over whether to reform public-sector labor laws. The president responds with a letter. This does not count as lobbying because it was a written response to a request for technical advice or factual information.
Lobbying or Not? A delegation of union leaders meets with the Mayor of Boston to ask that he support an increase to the state minimum wage. The time spent at this meeting is lobbying, and so was time planning for it. Even though the communication was with a municipal official, the goal was to influence state legislation, and thus counts as lobbying under the new law. New Definition of Lobbying
Allowable Incidental Lobbying Present Law No Need to Register as Lobbyist if: 6 Month Period 50 Hours or Less Earn Less than $5,000 (pro rata share of salary) New Law No Need to Register as Lobbyist if: 6 Month Period 25 Hours or Less Earn Less than $2,500 (pro rata share of salary)
A point of clarification needed Is registration required if someones combined executive and legislative lobbying exceeds the incidental threshold? -or- Is registration only required only if someone exceeds the incidental threshold for either or both executive lobbying?
Advisory Opinions Present Law Secretary of State does not have this power New Law Secretary of State can provide citizens with written opinion If followed in good faith, one cannot be prosecuted for lobbying violations
Your New Obligations
Registration Process How: Electronically (Request User ID and Password in writing or from Sec. of States Office) or by paper When: Annually By December 15 for upcoming calendar year Who Needs to Register: Each employee qualified as a lobbyist The union as a Client
Examples Sarah Works full time for a union Lobbying only part of her job Must pay $100 to register herself for one year (union can reimburse) The union is considered a Client (it was not created to provide lobbyist services) The union must pay $100 for each of its employees like Sarah. Don Full time lobbyist for MegaLobbyist Association, Inc. Must pay $100 to register himself for one year MegaLobbyist Association, Inc. must pay $1,000 to register itself as a Lobbyist Entity. Local 1000 Hires Don and MegaLobbyist Association, Inc. to lobby Local 1000 is a Client and must pay $100 for each Lobbyist or Lobbyist Entity.
Registration Process registration and thereafter, all legislative agents and executive agents (but not clients) must complete an in-person or online offered by the State Secretary which explains the requirements of the new legislation. Current training required is to read the statute.
Financial Disclosure Financial Disclosure Statements are Semi-Annual Info Reported by Lobbyists: Every bill number lobbied for/against during the reporting period. Itemized list of: all expenditures including: meals gifts transportation entertainment advertising P.R. printing mailing etc General Contact Information Info Reported by Clients: All money paid to any Lobbyist/ Lobbyist Entity during the reporting period Itemized list of all expenditures including General Contact Information Note: All reported information is available to the public on the Secretary of State web page
Late Fees New Law includes increases in Late Fees for filing Financial Disclosure Statements Current penalty for filing a late statement: $250 (less than 10 days later) or $500 (more than 10 days late) Examples Fee for 9 days late: $250 Fee for 25 days late: $500 Penalty under new law: $50 per day for first 20 days $100 per day thereafter Examples Fee for 9 days late: $450 Fee for 25 days late: $1,500
Proposed Fines Present Law : Violation of lobbying laws (including registration, filing statements gifts to officials, etc) are –Considered misdemeanors –Result in fine of $100 to $5,000 –No possibility of jail time Secretary Galvin may disqualify a person from acting as a lobbyist temporarily (6 years max) New Law : Criminal Penalty will be raised to –$10,000 fine –5 years imprisonment –Or both Secretary of State could suspend or permanently revoke a lobbying license