SS/SB 966 - This act modifies numerous provisions relating to ethics.
The act imposes a one year cooling off period before members of the General Assembly may act as paid political consultants and a 2 year cooling off period before they may become lobbyists. Members are also barred from lobbying local government officials while serving in the General Assembly.
Paid, full-time employees of General Assembly members may register as lobbyists January first after termination of employment.
All expenditures, with the exception of commemorative items, plaques, and awards, made by lobbyists on behalf of members of the General Assembly shall be reimbursed by the member within 30 days from the day the expenditure is reported by the lobbyist. Members shall file a reimbursement report with the Ethics Commission within 10 days of the reimbursement. Lobbyists are required to report reimbursements in their monthly expenditure reports.
The act modifies the definition of "elected local government official lobbyist" to include individuals who are employed specifically for the purpose of attempting to influence an action by an elected school district official.
Paid political consultants are required to register annually with the Ethics Commission. Consultants shall divulge employees, client lists, and whether such clients are lobbyists and update the filing when any changes are made.
Currently, individuals are not required to register as lobbyists if influencing legislation is not the primary purpose of their employment or if they lobby on an occasional basis. The act removes these exceptions so that all individuals who act in the ordinary course of their employment to influence legislation on behalf of or for the benefit of their employer are required to register.
The act stipulates that lobbyists are required to report all entities they represent to the third degree even if they are not directly compensated by such entities.
The act specifies that lobbyists are required to report expenditures made on behalf of all public officials as that term is defined in statute.
Expenditures are only allowed to be reported as a group for functions where all senators, all representatives, and all statewide elected officials are invited at least 48 hours in advance. Staff and employees of such individuals may be included as part of these groups. Such reporting can no longer be made for joint and standing committees or caucuses.
Under current law, elected officials in political subdivisions with an annual operating budget in excess of one million dollars or in political subdivisions where ordinances have been passed requiring alternative disclosures are exempt from filing financial interest statements. The act removes these exceptions and requires all elected officials in all political subdivisions to file the same financial interest statement as legislative and statewide elected officials.
Filers are required to disclose the name, address and general nature of the business conducted of each limited liability company in which the person has an interest on their financial interest statements.
Designated officers and employees of statewide elected officials are required to disclose income received by or payments made to such employee in connection with any political campaign.
The act changes the filing deadline for financial interest statements from May 1 to January 31 and requires an extra filing of a financial interest statement for legislators, statewide elected officials and their employees that are required to file, to be filed by June 30, covering January 1 to May 31.
Members of the General Assembly who vacate their office for an appointment on a board or commission, shall not receive compensation until their term expires.
Persons are prohibited from charging interest on loans made to political committees at a rate higher than the 90 day treasury bill rate.
The act requires a detailed description and nature of in-kind contributions to be included in campaign finance disclosure reports.
This act is similar to SB 4 (2013), SB 488 (2014), and identical to SCS/SB 512 (2014).