Who Must Register
Persons, including individuals and entities who lobby or are employed as lobbyists – either full or part-time – must register and report their income and expenditures unless exempt under one or more of the provisions listed below.
A lobbyist may be:
- a regular employee of a company or organization who devotes all or a fraction of his or her time to lobbying;
- an individual with one or more client-employers;
- a law firm whose partners or employees undertake protecting the legislative interests of its clients;
- a lobbying firm that employs several agents to further the objectives of many client-employers;
- a person who agrees to carry an organization’s banner to Olympia without payment except for travel and living expenses.
All of these types of lobbyists must register unless they meet one of the statutory exemptions discussed below.
Persons who attempt to influence the passage or defeat of legislation and/or the adoption or rejection of administrative rules are exempt from registering as lobbyists if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Limit lobbying activities to appearances before public sessions of legislative committees or public hearings of state agencies;
- At the request of a state agency, participate in that agency’s efforts to reach consensus on possible rulemaking under RCW 34.05.310(2). Once notice of a proposed rule has been published, efforts to influence actions on that proposed rule are no longer exempt.
- Are working members of the print or broadcast media preparing news reports, feature articles or editorial comment;
- Lobby without compensation or “other consideration” for acting as a lobbyist, provided no expenditures are made for or on behalf of the people being lobbied. A person who is reimbursed for lobbying expenses is receiving “other consideration” and is required to register regardless of whether the person is receiving other payment for his or her services. WAC 390-05-220 defines “other consideration” as payment for services, reimbursement or payment of expenses, promise or delivery of goods or services or granting of benefits or privileges that have a tangible and identifiable value.
- Restrict their lobbying to no more than four days (or parts of four days) during any three consecutive months, and the total expenditures during that period for or on behalf of any member of the legislature, state elected officials, state public officers, or employees in connection with lobbying do not exceed $35. (This exemption can be used in addition to an initial lobbying effort limited to public appearances. See #1 above.)
Individuals who only monitor legislation and/or observe committee hearings and legislative floor debate do not need to register or report their activities.
Citizens who – on their own time and without payment or other consideration – write letters make phone calls, send e-mails, or have personal visits with officials in order to express their views on issues have no registration or reporting obligations so long as they do not spend money on whomever they are lobbying for such things as meals, drinks, or other entertainment, gifts, travel, or contributions.
When to Register
A lobbyist must file a registration form (PDC Form L-1) within 30 days of being employed to lobby or before lobbying, whichever comes first. A lobbyist is required to file a separate L-1 for each employer. If any of the information on an L-1 changes once it is filed, the L-1 needs to be amended within one week of the change occurring. The registration must be filed electronically.