What Are the State Laws Regarding Lobbying?
Lobbying is defined as a citizens’ right to speak freely to affect decisions and petition the government for recourse. This is considered a critical right and a central part of the legislative process. This right has also created a for-profit industry whose numbers have increased significantly over the years.
Unfortunately, along with this growth, has come more regulations, laws, restrictions, and registration and reporting requirements.
In addition, over time, the criminality and ethics of lobbying have constantly changed and been challenged, especially in the area of gifts because it is illegal to give a thing of value while lobbying. We know the ins and outs of these changes.
If you have been accused of a lobbying crime, call us immediately to protect your rights.
Are All-State Lobbying Laws the Same?
Some states exclude state agencies from using public funds to contract with a lobbyist or legislate restrictions on the use of public funds for lobbying. However, other states go in the opposite direction by authorizing that some agencies have a titled lobbyist position on their team. Yet, all states require the reporting of certain activities. It really is a hodgepodge of regulations and laws.
For example, an Illinois lobbyist registration must include the registrant’s name, permanent address, e-mail address, fax number, business telephone number and temporary address, if the registrant has a temporary address. Whereas, in California, the registrant must include a photograph as well as the above Chicago requirements.
Obviously, to know all the various state lobbying laws would take forever to learn. If you or someone you know is thinking of becoming a lobbyist, or is a lobbyist charged with a crime, you should first consult an attorney with knowledge in this unique area of law before striking out on your own.
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Who Exactly Must Register?
Who exactly must register? Anyone thinking of becoming a lobbyist, or someone who is actually in the practice of lobbying must file registration paperwork. However, some states require those who employ lobbyists to file either, in addition, or instead of them. The definitions of lobbying and lobbyist also may vary by state. Sometimes the person the lobbyist is working for is called principals.
How Much Does it Cost to Register?
Registration fees vary by state from no fee to several hundred dollars. In Illinois, it is $50 dollars, but in California, it is $300 dollars. Some states mandate individual lobbyists or lobbying firms to pay filing fees for each client whose needs they represent before the legislature. Registration fees may be waived or reduced for government lobbyists.
What Type of Information Must Be Revealed?
As discussed above, exactly what information needs to be divulged varies by state. The required information might include the registrant’s contact and address, client information; or subject matters of interest to the lobbyist’s vocation. Like California, a few states may require photos for ID cards. Other requirements include revealing subcontracted lobbyists, honesty and completeness pledges, terms of compensation for lobbying work, and much more.
Truthfully, lobbying law is a tricky and complicated process. To protect the interests of yourself and those involved in your work, you need to call a firm that has expertise in this field. We have decades of experience in litigating complex lobbying law.
We stay on top of all recent changes in this field so we are best prepared to honor your needs. Call us today for a consultation. Let us do the work while you enjoy peace of mind.