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S.115

Introduced by   Senator Dunne of Windsor District, Senator Flanagan of Chittenden District and Senator MacDonald of Orange District

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Legislature; lobbyists; lobbyists’ employers; registration; fees; gifts; reports; appropriation

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to:  (1) expand the definition of “gift” in the chapter relating to registration of lobbyists; (2) permit lobbyists and their employers to register electronically with the secretary of state; (3) increase registration fees for lobbyists and lobbyist employers; (4) require the secretary of state to provide internet access to lobbyist and lobbyist employer information; and (5) expand the information required for disclosure by lobbyists and lobbyist employers.

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(6) is amended to read:

(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.:

(i)  political contributions, other than lawful campaign contributions, whether or not made in connection with lobbying;

(ii)  contributions or tickets to political fundraising events;

(iii)  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;

(iv)  meals and alcoholic beverages, whether given as part of a general or open invitation or not;

(v)  tickets, fees, or expenses for or to any sporting, recreational, or entertainment events;

(vi)  speaking fees or honoraria;

(vii)  loans, 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 include anything given between immediate family members.  “Gift” does not include anything that is not accepted by a legislator or administrative official, a member of the legislator’s or administrative official’s immediate family, a legislative or administrative staff person, or a legislative or administrative employee.

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 does not include a person hired or contracted 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 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.  Filings under this subsection may be submitted electronically.

(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.  If an employer engages an additional lobbyist, the employer shall file a supplemental registration statement.  Filings under this subsection may be submitted electronically.

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(f)  Every employer and every lobbyist shall pay an initial registration fee of $25.00 $50.00.

(g)  An employer shall pay a fee of $5.00 $10.00 for each lobbyist engaged by the employer.  A lobbyist shall pay a fee of $5.00 $10.00 for each employer represented.

(h)  A person who fails to file on time a statement required by this section shall pay a late registration fee of $25.00 plus $10.00 for each day the statement is late, not to exceed $175.00.  The secretary of state shall develop a written policy for which fees may be waived for good cause.

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(k)  The secretary of state shall develop and maintain an electronic filing system of all lobbyist and lobbyist employer reports required under this chapter and provide public access via the internet of these filings.

 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 employerEach disclosure shall include the date of each expenditure, to whom paid, the name of any legislator or administrative official who benefited from each expenditure, and the amount of each expenditure made during the previous reporting period in connection with lobbying, in each of the following categories:

(A)  transportation;

(B)  lodging;

(C)  entertainment;

(D)  food;

(E)  any item having a cash equivalent value of more than $25.00;

(F)  contributions made, paid, incurred or promised, directly or indirectly; and

(G)  any advertising, including television, radio, print, and electronic media.

(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 including the name and address of each registered lobbyist employed by the person reporting and the total expenditures made by the employer for each lobbyist for lobbying purposes, and 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 whose activities under this chapter are incidental to regular employment; and.

(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 $5.00, made by or on behalf of the employer to or at the request of one or more legislators or administrative officials, a member of the legislator’s or administrator’s immediate family, a legislative or administrative staff person, or a legislative or administrative employee.  Gifts in excess of $25.00 in value shall be prohibited.  With respect to each gift:

(A)  the employer shall notify, and obtain acceptance from, each legislator or administrative official, member of the legislator’s or administrator’s immediate family, legislative or administrative staff person, or legislative or administrative employee prior to delivery of the gift; and

(B)  if accepted, the employer shall deliver the gift and 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.

(4)  Any expenses incurred for public relations, telemarketing, polling, or similar activities if the activities are intended, designed, or calculated, directly or indirectly, to influence legislation or the adoption or rejection of a rule, standard, or rate by an agency.  The report shall specify the amount, the person to whom the amount was paid, and a brief description of the activity.

(5)  Contractual arrangements 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 employer, that were in existence or entered into within the previous 12 months.

(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 lobbyistEach disclosure shall set forth the date of each expenditure, to whom paid, the name of any legislator or executive branch official who benefited from each expenditure, and the amount of each expenditure made during the previous reporting period in connection with lobbying, in each of the following categories:

(A)  transportation;

(B)  lodging;

(C)  entertainment;

(D)  food;

(E)  any item having a cash equivalent value of more than $25.00;

(F)  contributions made, paid, incurred or promised, directly or indirectly; and

(G)  any advertising, including television, radio, print, and electronic media.

(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, to the nearest $200.00, paid to the lobbyist for lobbying, including the name and address of each registered lobbyist employer who employed the person 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 person whose activities under this chapter are incidental to regular employment.

(3)  An itemized list of every gift, 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, a member of the legislator’s or administrator’s immediate family, a legislative or administrative staff person, or a legislative or administrative employee.  Gifts in excess of $25.00 in value shall be prohibited.  With respect to each gift:

(A)  the lobbyist shall notify, and obtain acceptance from, each legislator or administrative official, member of the legislator’s or administrator’s immediate family, legislative or administrative staff person, or legislative or administrative employee prior to delivery of the gift; and

(B)  if accepted, the lobbyist or employer shall deliver the gift and 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.  

(4)  Any expenses incurred for public relations, telemarketing, polling, or similar activities if the activities are intended, designed, or calculated, directly or indirectly, to influence legislation or the adoption or rejection of a rule, standard, or rate by an agency.  The report shall specify the amount, the person to whom the amount was paid, and a brief description of the activity.

(5)  Contractual arrangements in excess of $100.00 per year or direct business relationships between a legislator, legislator’s spouse or legislator’s dependent household members and the lobbyist, that were in existence or entered into within the previous 12 months.

(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 shall mail or deliver a copy of the report to the legislators and administrative officials identified in the report.

(f)  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)(f)  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.

(h)(g)  A person An employer or lobbyist 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.  The secretary of state shall develop a written policy under which fees may be waived for good cause.

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

§ 267a.  INVESTIGATIONS

The attorney general The secretary of state, or his or her designee, shall report apparent violations of this chapter to the attorney general who shall investigate as he or she deems appropriate.  Pursuant to reports of apparent violations made by any other individual to the attorney general, he or she may investigate, as the attorney general finds necessary, to determine whether a person has violated this chapter.  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.

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 the lobbyist or lobbyist employer found to be in violation of this chapter;

Sec. 7.  APPROPRIATION

The sum of $50,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the secretary of state to comply with the requirements of 2 V.S.A. § 263(a), (b), and (k).

Sec. 8.  REPEAL

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

Sec. 9.  EFFECTIVE DATE

Sec. 3, 2 V.S.A. §§ 263(h) and (k) and 264(g), shall be effective January 1, 2006.  However, the secretary of state shall begin to undertake all necessary efforts to implement the requirements of these subsections no later than this date.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us