Depending on where they are filed, states can require lobbying reports to include varying amounts of detail. While some states merely require lobbyists to report the subject that they lobbied during the reporting period, others stipulate that they must list the specific bills they lobbied as well. In Oregon, State Representative Dan Rayfield (D) recently introduced a bill (OR HB 2577) that would dramatically increase the amount of information required in lobbyists' disclosure reports.
Under current law, lobbyists in Oregon are only required to list their compensation attributable to lobbying activity for a given reporting period, as well as itemized expenses, contributions, and any notices given to a public official. Under the proposed bill, the state would require lobbyists to list each bill or measure that they are lobbying to the state legislature, as well as the bill or measure's topic. Additionally, the proposed bill would require lobbyists to report their position on the bill or measure, which would include situations in which the lobbyist remained neutral but lobbied for amendments to the bill. Finally, the proposed bill would require lobbyists to report their compensation specific to lobbying each bill or topic.
Under the proposed bill, lobbyists would likely have to keep logs of the bills or subjects that they lobby, as well as any changes in terms of support or opposition, because the new law would require lobbyists to report changes as they occur. This stipulation could prove arduous for an individual lobbyist working on behalf of multiple clients.
Supporters of the bill argue that it is important to know who is lobbying what specific bills and subjects and how much money is spent on any particular issue. Supporters also point to other states that similarly require lobbyists to list bills and subjects on disclosure reports. For example, Washington requires that a lobbyist list not only the compensation that was paid, but also any bills or activity that they had in a given month. In addition, Rhode Island requires that the lobbyist report their compensation attributable to lobbying, as well as any bills lobbied, and their position on the bills.
Opponents of the bill argue that a lobbyist's position on a bill can frequently change with little notice, particularly during the legislative process. Therefore, opponents say that the proposed legislation would make it onerous for lobbyists to constantly amend their reports to reflect their updated positions. Opponents point out that amending reports in the state's filing system can also cause logistical problems because a new record is created once a report is filed. In many states, amending the report shows not only the new filing but the original filing as well. Opponents argue that an amended report could cause confusion and undue scrutiny.
Lawmakers held a public hearing on the proposed legislation on February 14, 2017. As of this writing, the House Rules Committee is considering the bill. It is important to be aware of any pending changes to reporting requirements and ensure that lobbyists' reports contain accurate, up-to-date information. Although changes can present a hassle, maintaining up-to-date records helps ensure maintained compliance.