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NO. 99.  AN ACT RELATING TO REGISTRATION OF LOBBYISTS.

(H.248)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  2 V.S.A. § 261 is amended to read:

§ 261.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter,

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(4)  “Employer” means any person, other than a lobbying firm, who engages the services of a lobbyist for compensation for the purpose of lobbying.  A lobbyist who employs another lobbyist shall be required to register and report both as an employer and a lobbyist.

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(6)(A)  “Gift” means political contributions, contributions or tickets to political fundraising events and anything of value, tangible or intangible, that is bestowed for less than adequate consideration including travel expenses such as travel fare, room and board and other expenses associated with such travel and including meals and alcoholic beverages whether given as part of a general or open invitation or not.  “Gift” does not include anything given between immediate family members:

(i)  a political contribution;

(ii)  anything of value, tangible or intangible, that is bestowed for less than adequate consideration, including travel expenses such as travel fare, room and board, and other expenses associated with travel;

(iii)  a meal or alcoholic beverage;

(iv)  a ticket, fee, or expenses for, or to, any sporting, recreational, or entertainment events;

(v)  a speaking fee or honorarium, except actual and reasonable travel expenses;

(vi)  a loan made on terms more favorable than those made generally available to the public in the normal course of business.

(B)  “Gift” does not mean:

(i)  anything given between immediate family members;

(ii)  printed educational material such as books, reports, pamphlets, or periodicals;

(iii)  a gift which is not used and which, within 30 days after

receipt, is returned to the donor or for which the donor is reimbursed for its fair market value; and

(iv)  a devise or inheritance.

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(10)  “Lobbyist” means a person who engages in lobbying for compensation of more than $500.00 or expends more than $500.00 lobbying in any calendar year a person who receives or is entitled to receive, either by employment or contract, $500.00 or more in monetary or in-kind compensation in any calendar year for engaging in lobbying, either personally or through his or her agents, or a person who expends more than $500.00 on lobbying in any calendar year.

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(12)  “Lobbying firm” means a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability corporation, or unincorporated association which receives or is entitled to receive $500.00 or more in monetary or in-kind compensation for engaging in lobbying, either personally or through its agents, in any calendar year.

(13)  “Immediate family” means a person’s spouse or civil union partner, parent, sibling, child, or in-law, including a parent, sibling, or child of a spouse or civil union partner.

Sec. 2.  2 V.S.A. § 262(2) is amended to read:

(2)  a duly-elected or appointed official or employee of the United States, the state of Vermont, or of any instrumentality, agency, or governmental subdivision of the foregoing, when acting solely in connection with matters relating to the person’s office or public duties.  However, if one of the foregoing individuals or entities contracts with a lobbyist, that person or entity, as well as that lobbyist, shall comply with the provisions of this chapter;


Sec. 3.  2 V.S.A. § 263 is amended to read:

§ 263.  REGISTRATION OF LOBBYISTS AND EMPLOYERS; FEES

(a)  On forms provided by the secretary of state, every lobbyist shall register with the secretary of state before, or within 48 hours of, commencing lobbying activities. A lobbyist shall file a separate registration statement for each of the lobbyist’s employers.  Each lobbying firm shall submit a list of the names of each lobbyist who is a partner, owner, officer, employee, or agent of the lobbying firm.  Each lobbying firm shall file a supplemental list within 48 hours of any changes that have occurred.

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(d)  A registration statement filed by an employer shall be signed by the employer and shall contain the following information:

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(5)  The name and mailing address of each lobbyist employed engaged by the employer and date of employment or contract for the biennium.

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Sec. 4.  2 V.S.A. § 264 is amended to read:

§ 264.  REPORTS OF EXPENDITURES

(a)  Every employer and every lobbyist registered or required to be registered under this chapter shall file disclosure reports with the secretary of state as follows:

(1)  on or before March April 25, for the preceding period beginning on January 1 and ending with the month of February March;

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(b)  An employer shall disclose for the period of the report the following information:

(1)  a A total of all lobbying expenditures, to the nearest $200.00, made by the employer; in each of the following categories:

(A)  advertising, including television, radio, print, and electronic media;

(B)  expenses incurred for telemarketing, polling, or similar activities if the activities are intended, designed, or calculated, directly or indirectly, to influence legislative or administrative action.  The report shall specify the amount, the person to whom the amount was paid, and a brief description of the activity;

(C)  contractual agreements in excess of $100.00 per year or direct business relationships that are in existence or were entered into within the previous 12 months between the employer and:

(i)  a legislator or administrator;

(ii)  a legislator’s or administrator’s spouse or civil union partner; or

(iii)  a legislator’s or administrator’s dependent household member;

(D)  the total amount of any other lobbying expenditures.

(2)  the The total amount of compensation, to the nearest $200.00, paid to lobbyists for lobbying, provided the report need not identify the lobbyists to whom compensation was paid and it.  The employer shall report the name and address of each lobbyist to which the employer pays compensation.  It shall be sufficient to include a prorated amount based on the value of the time devoted to lobbying where compensation is to be included for a person lobbyist whose activities under this chapter are incidental to regular employment; and or other responsibilities to the employer.

(3)  an An itemized list of every gift, whether or not made in connection with lobbying, the value of which is greater than $5.00, made by or on behalf of the employer to or at the request of one or more legislators or administrative officials, and with respect to each such gift, the date made, the nature of the gift, the value of the gift, the identity of any legislators or administrative officials who requested the gift, and the identity of any recipients of the gift the value of which is greater than $15.00, made by or on behalf of the employer to or at the request of one or more legislators or administrative officials or a member of a legislator’s or administrative official’s immediate family.  With respect to each gift, the employer shall report the date the gift was made, the nature of the gift, the value of the gift, the identity of any legislators or administrative officials who requested the gift, and the identity of any recipients of the gift.  Monetary gifts, other than political contributions, shall be prohibited.

(c)  A lobbyist shall disclose for the period of the report the following information:

(1)  a A total of all lobbying expenditures, to the nearest $200.00, made by the lobbyist; and in each of the following categories:

(A)  advertising, including television, radio, print, and electronic media;

(B)  expenses incurred for telemarketing, polling, or similar activities if the activities are intended, designed, or calculated, directly or indirectly, to influence legislative or administrative action.  The report shall specify the amount, the person to whom the amount was paid, and a brief description of the activity;

(C)  contractual agreements in excess of $100.00 per year or direct business relationships that are in existence or were entered into within the previous 12 months between the employer and:

(i)  a legislator or administrator;

(ii)  a legislator’s or administrator’s spouse or civil union partner; or

(iii)  a legislator’s or administrator’s dependent household member;

(D)  the total amount of any other lobbying expenditures.

(2)  an itemized list of every gift, whether or not made in connection with lobbying, the value of which is greater than $5.00, made by or on behalf of a lobbyist to or at the request of one or more legislators or administrative officials, and with respect to each gift, the date made, the nature of the gift, the value of the gift, the identity of any legislators or administrative officials who requested the gift and the identity of any recipients of the gift, except gifts reported by an employer The total amount of compensation paid to a lobbyist for lobbying, including the name and address of each registered employer who engaged the services of the lobbyist reporting.  It shall be sufficient to include a prorated amount based on the value of the time devoted to lobbying where compensation is to be included for a lobbyist whose activities under this chapter are incidental to other responsibilities to the employer.

(3)  An itemized list of every gift, the value of which is greater than $15.00, made by or on behalf of a lobbyist to or at the request of one or more legislators or administrative officials or a member of the legislator’s or administrative official’s immediate family.  With respect to each gift, the lobbyist shall report the date the gift was made, the nature of the gift, the value of the gift, the identity of any legislators or administrative officials who requested the gift, and the identity of any recipients of the gift.  Monetary gifts, other than political contributions, shall be prohibited.

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(f)  If an unsolicited gift is given to a legislator or administrative official by a lobbyist or employer and the recipient does not use it and returns it to the donor within 30 days or the donor is reimbursed for its fair market value, it shall not be considered a “gift” and shall not be required to be reported as such by the donor to the secretary of state.  If the item has already been reported as a gift, the lobbyist or employer shall file an amended report with the secretary of state.

(g)  Within 15 days after the date disclosure reports are to be filed under this section, the secretary shall file a compilation of the disclosure reports with the legislative council.  Compilations of disclosure reports received during the legislative session shall be published in the calendars of the house and senate.

(g)(h)  Disclosure reports shall be made on forms published by the secretary of state and shall be signed by the employer or lobbyist.  The secretary of state shall mail those forms to registered employers and lobbyists not later than 30 days before the end of each reporting period each filing deadline.

(h)(i)  A person lobbyist or employer who fails to file a disclosure report on time shall pay a late reporting fee of $25.00 plus $10.00 for each day the disclosure report is late, not to exceed $175.00.

(i)(j)  A gift from a member of an interest group to, or for the benefit of, a legislator or administrative official, which is made in connection with lobbying as defined in 2 V.S.A. § subdivision 261(9)(D) of this title, shall be deemed to be made on behalf of the employer or lobbyist who sponsored the activity and shall be reported and itemized.

Sec. 5.  2 V.S.A. § 267a is amended to read:

§ 267a.  INVESTIGATIONS

The attorney general may shall investigate, as the attorney general finds necessary, to determine whether a person has violated this chapter on his or her own initiative or in response to a complaint filed in writing with the attorney general, whether a violation of this chapter has occurred.  The attorney general may administer oaths, require filing of a statement under oath, take evidence and require the production, by subpoena or otherwise, of financial records, books, papers, correspondence and other documents and records the attorney general considers to be relevant and material to the investigation.  The attorney general shall make a determination of each complaint filed and, at the time of resolution of a complaint which is found to have merit, shall post on the website of the office of the attorney general a brief summary of the complaint and resolution.

Sec. 6.  2 V.S.A. § 268(b)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  order reimbursement from any person who caused governmental expenditures for the enforcement of the provisions lobbyist or employer found to be in violation of this chapter;

Sec. 7.  REPEAL

2 V.S.A. § 264a (tax on expenditures of lobbyists) is repealed.

Sec. 8.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on January 1, 2007.

Approved:  March 21, 2006



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us