What Qualifies as Lobbying
Lobbying the Legislature
In-person contacts by agency lobbyists or liaisons with legislators to influence action or inaction on legislation is understood fairly universally to be reportable lobbying. However, some agencies may not be aware that reportable lobbying also includes efforts to inform, sway, convince or otherwise influence the action or inaction of legislative staff members. Staff evaluations and recommendations play a significant role in the legislative process. In-person contacts with legislative staff constitute lobbying. Gift, travel and entertainment expenditures for legislators and staffers alike, whether using public or non-public dollars, are reportable.
While phone calls are exempt from public agency lobbying reporting, the PDC strongly recommends that video calls and virtual meetings be included on the quarterly L-5 report.
Lobbying State Agencies
Requests, recommendations or other communications between or within state agencies, whether in-person or by phone or letter, is not considered lobbying. Therefore, state agencies may attempt to influence each other's actions without reporting the expenditures incurred. State agencies may also "lobby" local and federal agencies without reporting this activity under state law.
Lobbying Local Agencies
Similarly, local agencies may "lobby" their local counterparts and federal agencies without incurring any state reporting requirements. However, if a local agency employee has an in-person contact with a state agency representative in order to attempt to influence that state agency's adoption, repeal or amendment of a rule, rate, standard or other legislative enactment of the agency, the expenditures made in connection with that contact are reportable by the local agency.
Were a local agency to request a state agency to interpret or apply existing laws or rules to a particular situation in a manner preferred by the local agency, reportable lobbying would not occur. Attempting to influence the interpretation or application of an existing state rule or policy is not lobbying; attempting to change a state agency's rule, rate or standard is.
Activities That Are Not Lobbying
For public agencies, the following activities are not considered lobbying or don't rise to the level that requires reporting:
- Minimal in-person lobbying on behalf of an agency by all of its employees or lobbyists (excluding elected officials who lobby on behalf of an agency) totaling, in the aggregate for the agency, no more than four days (or parts of four days) during any three consecutive months is non-reportable. In-person lobbying includes testifying at legislative committee and state agency hearings. Monitoring committee or agency hearings does not constitute lobbying and does not count toward this four-day threshold. This means that each state and local agency is permitted to have its representatives lobby in-person for a total of four days (or parts of four days) during any three-month period without reporting the costs associated with that lobbying. The phrase "or parts of four days" means that if an agency representative lobbies on behalf of an agency for ten minutes or two hours (i.e., something less than a full day), the fact that they lobbied at all means the agency must count that lobbying time as a "day" for the four-day non-reporting provision
- Requests for appropriations by state agencies to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) or requests by OFM to the legislature for appropriations other than its own agency budget (Once a budget request leaves OFM and is before the legislature, attempts to influence any portion of it do constitute reportable lobbying.);
- Recommendations or reports to the legislature in response to a legislative request, whether oral or written, expressly requesting or directing a specific study, recommendation or report on a particular subject;
- Official reports including recommendations submitted annually or biennially by a state agency as required by law;
- Requests, recommendations or other communications between or within state agencies (however, attempts to influence the Governor with respect to signing or vetoing legislation are considered reportable lobbying; other communications or negotiations with the Governor's Office would not be reportable);
- Requests, recommendations or other communications between or within local agencies;
- Telephone conversations or preparation of written correspondence (thus, only in-person contacts, including testifying at hearings, are considered lobbying). However, the PDC strongly recommends that video calls and virtual meetings be included on the quarterly L-5 report.
- Preparation or adoption of policy positions within an agency or group of agencies (once a position is adopted, further action to advocate it may constitute lobbying, however);
- Attempts to influence federal or local legislation.
- Elected officials' in-person lobbying is not required to be disclosed. If an elected official spends over $25 of non-public funds for or on behalf of on the individuals lobbied, the amount and purpose of the expenditures must be disclosed on the agency's L-5 report.