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H.248

AN ACT RELATING TO REGISTRATION OF LOBBYISTS

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 or business entity, other than a lobbying firm, who engages the services of a lobbyist the services of a lobbyist or lobbying firm for compensation for the purpose of lobbyingA 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 which are directly associated with legislative or administrative duties;

(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, other than commercially available loans made on terms not 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)  informational material such as books, reports, pamphlets, or periodicals.  Payment for travel or reimbursement for any expenses shall not be deemed “informational material”;

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

receipt, is returned to the donor; 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 an individual who receives or becomes entitled to receive $500.00 or more in monetary or in-kind compensation for engaging in lobbying, either personally or through his or her agents, in any calendar year, including a person employed to lobby on an employer’s behalf.

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(12)  “Lobbying firm” means a business entity which receives or becomes 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.

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, but not a person who contracts with the entities described in this subdivision to perform lobbying as defined under subdivision 261(9) of this title;


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

§ 263.  REGISTRATION OF LOBBYISTS, LOBBYING FIRMS, AND

            EMPLOYERS; FEES

(a)  On forms provided by the secretary of state, every lobbyist and lobbying firm shall register with the secretary of state before, or within 48 hours of, commencing lobbying activities.  A lobbyist lobbying firm, or a lobbyist who is not part of a lobbying firm, shall file a separate registration statement for each of the lobbyist’s its or his or her employers.  A lobbying firm shall list the name of each lobbyist who is a partner, owner, officer, or employee of, or who has a contractual relationship with, the lobbying firm.  If a lobbying firm engages an additional lobbyist, the lobbying firm shall file a supplemental registration statement.

(b)  On forms provided by the secretary of state, every employer shall register with the secretary of state before, or within 48 hours of, engaging a lobbyist or lobbying firm.  If an employer engages an additional lobbyist or lobbying firm, the employer shall file a supplemental registration statement.

(c)  A registration statement filed by a lobbying firm shall be signed by each lobbyist engaged by the lobbying firm, and a registration statement filed by a lobbyist who is not part of a lobbying firm shall be signed by the lobbyist and.  The statement shall contain the following information:

(1)  The name, business mailing address, and business telephone number of the lobbyist or lobbying firm.

(2)  The name of the employer and date of employment for the biennium.

(3)  A description of the matters for which lobbying has been engaged by the employer.

(4)  If a lobbyist or lobbying firm is compensated, in whole or in part, by an employer for the purpose of lobbying on behalf of another person, or group or coalition, the lobbyist or lobbying firm shall provide the name of the employer, the name of the person, group or coalition on whose behalf he or she lobbies and a description of the matters for which lobbying has been engaged by the employer.

(5)  A current passport-type photograph of the lobbyist or each lobbyist lobbying on behalf of a lobbying firm.

(6)  All subject areas for which lobbying is performed.

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

(1)  The name of the employer.

(2)  The trade name, if any, of the employer.

(3)  The mailing address and the telephone number of the employer.

(4)  The contact person for the employer.

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

(e)  A registration shall be valid from the date of filing to December 31 of the second year of a biennium, except that a registration may be made in December of an even-numbered year for the ensuing biennium.

(f)  Every employer and every lobbyist or lobbying firm on behalf of each lobbyist engaged by the lobbying firm shall pay an initial registration fee of $25.00.

(g)  An employer shall pay a fee of $5.00 for each lobbyist or for each lobbyist within the lobbying firm engaged by the employer.  A lobbyist or a lobbying firm on behalf of each lobbyist engaged by the lobbying firm shall pay a fee of $5.00 for each employer represented.

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

§ 264.  REPORTS OF EXPENDITURES

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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)  any advertising, including television, radio, print, and electronic media;

(B)  any 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 between a legislator, legislator’s spouse, or legislator’s dependent household members and an employer, that are in existence or were entered into within the previous 12 months;

(D)  the total amount of any other expenditures.

(2)  the The total amount of compensation, to the nearest $200.00, paid to lobbyists or lobbying firms for lobbying, provided the report need not identify the lobbyists to whom compensation was paid and it.  The employer shall report the name and business address of each lobbyist or lobbying firm 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 or lobbying firm whose activities under this chapter are incidental to regular employment; and 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 or a lobbying firm 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 or lobbying firm in each of the following categories:

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

(B)  any 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 between a legislator, legislator’s spouse, or legislator’s dependent household members and a lobbyist or lobbying firm, that are in existence or were entered into within the previous 12 months;

(D)  the total of any other 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 or lobbying firm for lobbying, including the name and address of each registered employer who engaged the services of the lobbyist or lobbying firm 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 or lobbying firm 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 or lobbying firm 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 or lobbying firm 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

(d)  Reports for the period July 1 through December 31 shall include, in addition to the totals for the period of the report, totals for the calendar year.

(e)  At the same time a report itemizing gifts is filed, the employer or, lobbyist, or lobbying firm shall mail or deliver a copy of the report to the legislators and administrative officials identified in the report.

(f)  If an unsolicited gift is given to a legislator or administrative official by a lobbyist, lobbying firm, or employer and the recipient does not use it, and returns it to the donor within 30 days, it shall not be considered a “gift” and shall not be reported as such by the donor to the secretary of state.  If the item has already been reported as a gift, the lobbyist, lobbying firm, 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, and each lobbyist engaged by the lobbying firm.  The secretary of state shall mail those forms to registered employers and, lobbyists, and lobbying firms not later than 30 days before the end of each reporting period.

(h)(i)  A person An employer, lobbyist, or lobbying firm 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, shall post on his or her website 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 any lobbyist, lobbying firm, 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.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us