OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6690

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL LOBBYING.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires people to register as lobbyists with the Office of State Ethics (OSE) every two years if they receive or spend a specified sum to communicate with municipal officials or employees to influence any legislative or administrative action. Registered lobbyists who stop lobbying and do not intend to resume the activity during the remainder of the biennial period must file a termination notice, presumably with OSE, within 30 days after they stop lobbying.

The bill recognizes two types of lobbyists: client and communicator. A client lobbyist is a lobbyist on whose behalf lobbying takes place and who makes expenditures for lobbying and in the furtherance of lobbying. A communicator lobbyist is an individual or business organization that communicates directly with municipal officials or their staff to influence legislative or administrative action.

The bill authorizes OSE's general counsel to issue informal staff opinions regarding registration requirements. And OSE may seek compliance with these requirements but cannot impose or seek to impose penalties for failure to comply.

It requires municipal lobbyists to wear a badge while lobbying that identifies them lobbyists. The Citizens' Ethics Advisory Board must prescribe in regulations the size, color, material, and other requirements of the badge.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009

ACTIVITIES THAT CONSTITUTE MUNICIPAL LOBBYING

With some exemptions, a person engages in municipal lobbying if he or she communicates directly, or solicits others to communicate, with any legislative or executive branch municipal official or his or her staff to influence legislative or administrative action. “Legislative action” means any official action or non-action taken on any proposal, resolution, amendment, nomination, appointment, report, or other matter pending or proposed before a municipal legislative body, or any matter within the legislative body's official jurisdiction or cognizance. “Administrative action” means any action or non-action by a municipal executive agency with respect to the proposal, drafting, development, consideration, amendment, adoption, or repeal of any rule, regulation, ordinance, regulation, or utility rate.

Exemptions

The bill exempts from municipal lobbying communications made by an attorney in the practice of law, including communications with any municipal official or employee who has responsibility for decision making in the following areas:

1. planning and zoning,

2. inland wetlands,

3. historic districts,

4. water pollution control,

5. motor vehicle or gasoline location,

6. aquifer protection, or

7. conservation.

The bill also exempts from municipal lobbying communications by (1) an expert witness in a matter concerning any of these decisions and (2) a vendor representative or employee of a registered client lobbyist acting as a salesperson who does not otherwise engage in administrative lobbying.

MUNICIPAL LOBBYIST REGISTRATION

Who Must Register

A lobbyist is a person who receives, spends, or agrees to receive or spend at least $ 2,000 in a calendar year in lobbying and in furtherance of municipal lobbying. A person has to register as a lobbyist whether the payment or reimbursement for lobbying is solely for municipal lobbying or incidental to regular employment.

Lobbyists do not include:

1. state or municipal officials or municipal employees, other than independent contractors, acting within the scope of their authority or employment;

2. the media engaged in disseminating news or editorial comments to the public in the ordinary course of business;

3. an individual who represents himself or someone else before the legislature or a municipal agency for some reason other than to influence legislative or administrative action;

4. anyone who is not paid or reimbursed specifically for lobbying, only appears formally to testify at public hearings, and registers his appearance with the committee or agency before whom he or she testifies;

5. advisory board members acting within the scope of their appointment;

6. a member of Congress acting within the scope of his or her office;

7. a person who is not paid or reimbursed specifically for lobbying and spends no more than five hours engaged in it, unless he or she receives $ 2,000 or more, exclusive of his or her salary, to lobby or gives a legislative or executive municipal official or a member of his or her staff or immediate family (i. e. , spouse, dependent child, or dependent relative living in the home) a gift valued at $ 50 or more;

8. a communicator lobbyist that receives or agrees to receive less than $ 2,000 a year to lobby; or

9. anyone who undertakes to guide or direct an application or request through an official approval process without seeking any substantive change in law, ordinance, code, or regulation.

Registration Requirement

Municipal lobbyists must (1) register with OSE every two years by January 15th or before the commencement of lobbying, whichever is later, and (2) pay fee equal to the cost of administering the registration form. A lobbyist who starts lobbying in an even-numbered year pays one-half of the biennial registration fee paid by someone who registers in an odd-numbered year. Lobbyists must sign the registration form under penalty of false statement. If the lobbyist is not an individual, an authorized agent or officer must sign the form.

The registration form must ask for:

1. an individual registrant's name, permanent address, and temporary address and the name, address, and nature of business of anyone who pays, reimburses, or agrees to pay or reimburse him or her to lobby and the payment terms;

2. the name, address, place of incorporation, and the principal place of business of corporate lobbyists;

3. a lobbyist association's, group's, or organization's name and the address of the principal officers and directors, including the name and address of any person contributing $ 2,000 or more in a calendar year to the registrant's municipal lobbying activities if the registrant is formed primarily to engage in municipal lobbying;

4. the name and address of each individual who will lobby on behalf of any registrant that is not an individual;

5. the areas of legislative or administrative action on which the registrant expects to lobby a municipality; and

6. the name of each municipality within which the registrant expects to lobby.

Client lobbyists must also register (1) the name, nature, and primary business address of their company or association; (2) the name of the person responsible for overseeing their municipal lobbying activities; and (3) the overseer's job title and contact information, including telephone number, facsimile number, electronic mail address, and business mailing address.

Communicator lobbyists must also register, for each client, the name of each person with whom they have primary contact and any applicable contact information for the person, including, telephone number, facsimile number, electronic mail address, and business mailing address.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

11

Nay

4

(03/30/2009)