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Key Takeaways:

  • As government affairs professionals adapt to advocating remotely, it’s important to know the rules around registration and reporting when lobbying work looks different than it did before.
  • Does sending an email, writing a letter, calling lawmakers, or tweeting about a bill require lobbying registration? It depends, but in 17 states, a person must register as a lobbyist prior to making lobbying contacts.
  • Don’t wait until after you contact lawmakers to deal with registration — know before you (remotely) go!

This post has been updated (August 17, 2020)

As government affairs professionals adapt to advocating remotely, it’s important to know the rules around registration and reporting when lobbying work looks different than it did before. Since visiting state capitols, attending hearings and other proceedings, and in-person meetings are difficult during a pandemic, most government relations professionals are relying on the social distancing friendly tools of letters, emails, phone calls, and social media to get their jobs done.

But don’t take an “I’ll deal with it after” approach when it comes to contacting lawmakers — this can get you into trouble! As the map below indicates, 17 states require that a person register as a lobbyist prior to making lobbying contacts in that state. That means you need to complete the necessary paperwork or complete any mandatory training before you send that email about an executive order or legislation important to your organization. 

The remaining states have varying rules on what triggers registration, so it’s important to do your homework before you make contacts — rules can be quite different from state to state. In these states, there is a threshold to be considered before one qualifies as a lobbyist (e.g., time spent, expenditures, or a combination thereof).

For example, in California, an in-house lobbyist isn’t required to register until they spend more than one-third of their time lobbying in a calendar month. In Texas, there are compensation and expenditure thresholds to be considered. In Kentucky, there is technically no threshold to hit, but you have seven days to register once you begin to lobby.

Learn more about how MultiState can help you streamline your compliance process.

Information provided in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice and counsel directed at your specific situation.