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Key Takeaways:

  • In April 2018, New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) unanimously passed 92 pages of new regulations.
  • The new regulations include new definitions and filing requirements, so we recommend starting to prepare early.

With 2019 almost over, MultiState’s compliance department has become well-versed in New York’s updated lobbying regulations and the Joint Commission on Public Ethics’ (JCOPE) new reporting system. After the bi-annual registration, five bi-monthly reports, and one slightly extended semi-annual; it is safe to say that we have the experience and skills needed for these complex new requirements. MultiState’s recommendation is to start preparing for each reporting period early because filing in New York is a long process.

In April 2018, New York’s JCOPE unanimously passed 92 pages of new regulations. The commission’s objective was to expand the type of activities that would trigger lobbyist registration requirements. New York’s new JCOPE regulations will require lobbyists and their employers to report every communication that is even tangentially related to a public official. 

As part of this regulation package, the commission has created many new lobbying categories in an effort to bring clarity to lobbyist’s obligations when multiple parties are involved. For example, if you are just starting out in your lobbying career and you offer your services to an “unaffiliated client,” this makes you a “retained lobbyist.” Then, if you decide to accept an employment contract with one client, you become an “employed lobbyist.” However, if you decide to lobby on behalf of a “client” as a board member or officer, regardless of your compensation and so long as you do not offer services to any other client as a retained lobbyist, you’re now categorized as a “designated lobbyist.” 

There might be a bit of confusion, as there are sub-categories for which you must also register. Are you a Prime, Sub, or Co lobbyist? It depends on whether or not you hire others to conduct lobbying work for you, you yourself are one such lobbyist, or you and another decide to sell your services together in a contract, respectively. 

In terms of the new reporting process, reporting every communication requires selecting from pre-populated information on legislation, regulations, and type of lobbying, as well as the officials lobbied. A list of officials is available, although users have the option of manually entering names as well. It is likely that you will have to add most (if not your entire list) of lobbying targets and subjects manually. However, given that it can take several hours (and sometimes even days) to finish a report, the auto-save feature is extremely helpful. This feature indicates JCOPE is committed to providing a smooth user-interface.

Thankfully, JCOPE’s Helpdesk is ready to help you with any questions. You can contact them via email or telephone at (800) 873-8442 and helpdesk@jcope.ny.gov. And if you’d like to streamline your whole lobbying compliance process, MultiState can help