If you’re now doing more advocacy work virtually because visiting state capitols isn’t an option, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re staying in line with lobbying compliance rules.
Here are three quick tips to help: (1) know before you go, even virtually; (2) recordkeeping is a safety net; and (3) keep up with changing rules, especially since the pandemic is changing the industry.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the state government affairs industry. Many of the things we used to travel to a state capitol to accomplish now have to be done virtually. As a result, you and your organization are likely facing many unknowns when it comes to advocacy and lobbying compliance. Here are some tips that can help you navigate this new normal.
Tip #1: Know before you “go,” even virtually.
Even virtually, being familiar with the thresholds that initiate lobbying requirements is important. They vary between jurisdictions — some require registration before making contact and others do not. You don’t want to be in a position where you realize a conversation in the past has caught up with you (and not in a good way). To check in on requirements, rules, definitions, and other important points, check in with MultiState’s Online Compliance Guides before you make contact with a state or local official (read more about our guides here).
Tip #2: Recordkeeping is a safety net — use it.
In order to keep accurate records, you have to know what counts as “contact” and other information under the lobbying laws. For example, we’ve seen an increase in virtual meeting room usage. While this may seem like the way to go to avoid various restrictions, depending on who is “there” (even virtually), it may trigger lobbying registration. In this largely remote environment, it’s important to not get too lax — you still need to track your contacts (i.e., who you are contacting, when, and why). Don’t fall behind on tracking contacts. Want some more tips and best practices on recordkeeping? Check out our article here.
Tip #3: Stay current on changing regulations.
Jurisdictions frequently review and change procedures — especially now that our industry has changed so much as a result of the pandemic. Sometimes these changes cause huge shifts in reporting requirements. Such is the case in Washington where state officials recently identified that virtual meetings and calls via video software are reportable as lobbying. This can impact advocacy days and town halls, more of which will be happening virtually.
Need more personalized assistance? We can help. Learn more about how MultiState can streamline your compliance process here. MultiState’s Lobbying Compliance team is always available to offer assistance with questions and concerns regarding changes related to COVID-19 in your lobbying jurisdictions.