Regulation of lobbyists - clarification of term "client" - heightened disclosure requirements - secretary of state to convene working group to consider upgrades to electronic filing system used by lobbyists - appropriation. The act clarifies that the term "client" used in connection with statutory provisions regulating lobbyists means the person who employs or retains the professional services of one or more lobbyists to undertake lobbying on behalf of that person. The act also clarifies that a professional lobbyist is not, for purposes of the statute, a client of either a lobbying firm or any other person that employs or retains one or more professional lobbyists to undertake lobbying on behalf of one or more clients.
The act clarifies that existing provisions that require heightened disclosure when a lobbyist enters into an agreement to engage in lobbying apply when the general assembly is in regular or special session.
In addition to any other disclosure, during the period that the general assembly is in regular or special session, the act also requires a professional lobbyist to notify the secretary of state (secretary) by means of the electronic filing system within 72 hours after:
- The lobbyist agrees to undertake lobbying in connection with new legislation, standards, rules, or rates for either a new or existing client of the lobbyist; or
- The lobbyist takes a new position on a new or existing bill for a new or existing client of the lobbyist.
During this period, where the lobbyist agrees to undertake lobbying in connection with new or existing legislation for either a new or existing client, the disclosure required by the act includes the bill number of the legislation at issue and whether the lobbyist's client is supporting, opposing, amending, or monitoring the legislation at the time the lobbyist agrees to undertake lobbying in connection with the legislation or takes a new position.
The act also states that an attorney who is a professional lobbyist may not decline to disclose his or her lobbying as such lobbying is required to be disclosed on the grounds that the lobbying is protected against disclosure as confidential matters between an attorney and a client.
In connection with any requirement under existing law to disclose the identity of a client, a professional lobbyist who is a natural person and who is employed or retained by a lobbying firm or any other firm or entity may disclose the name of the lobbying firm or other person or entity by means of which, or under the name of which, a professional lobbyist does business, but to satisfy such disclosure requirement the lobbyist is also required to disclose the name of the client who employs or retains the professional services of the lobbyist, or a lobbying firm or any other person or entity that employs or retains the lobbyist, to undertake lobbying on its behalf.
The act also requires the secretary to convene a working group to consider upgrades to the electronic filing system used by lobbyists to file their disclosure reports. The act specifies the mission of the working group and requirements affecting its organization and membership. The working group is required to report its conclusions to the general assembly.
For the 2019-20 state fiscal year, the act appropriates $38,160 to the department of state from the department of state cash fund for use by the information technology division.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)