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Key Takeaways:

  • Following a scandal involving lobbyists and a Louisville Metro Council member, Louisville, Kentucky is poised to join other cities with local lobbying ordinances.
  • The ordinance would require lobbyist registration and reporting. This proposal mirrors Kentucky’s legislative lobbying registration and reporting process with a few key differences. It would impose new registration and reporting requirements on lobbyists and lobbyist employers.
  • The ordinance is still under consideration by the committee of jurisdiction.

Following a property development scandal involving a Louisville Metro Council member, Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9th District) has filed a new proposed ordinance (O-058-22) to require the registration of lobbyists and lobbyist employers in the city of Louisville, Kentucky.

Ordinance Imposes New  Registration and Reporting Requirements on Lobbyists and Lobbyist Employers

The ordinance creates a new section of the Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances to define who a lobbyist is and creates a reporting structure for lobbyists seeking to influence the Council or the executive branch of city government.

The proposed ordinance specifically exempts from the definition of lobbying persons appearing before the Council or executive agency during public meetings or submitting public comments, a private citizen who does not receive compensation for lobbying and expresses a personal opinion, and federal, state, or local employees seeking to influence an officer of the city in their capacity as a representative of their agency. Any other person “engaged to influence executive agency decisions or to promote, advocate, or oppose the passage, modification, defeat, or executive approval or veto of any legislation by direct communication with any Metro Officer or any member of the staff of a Metro Officer” would be required to register and report.

While similar, this ordinance would be a separate requirement from the existing lobbying laws in Kentucky. Lobbyists and lobbyist employers have seven (7) days to register with the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Ethics Commission following engagement of the lobbyist. Registrations would be valid for a calendar year (January 1 - December 31), unless the registration is terminated prior to expiration.

In addition to registration, each lobbyist and lobbyist employer are required to update their registration statement quarterly with the following information:

  • Expenditures: Expenditures made on behalf of a Metro Officer or candidate for Metro office;

  • Expenditures: The total amount of lobbying expenditures made by the lobbyist and/or lobbyist employer during the reporting period;

  • Expenditures: Expenditures made by the lobbyist for informational, educational, or promotional items or activities if the expenditures were not reimbursed by the employer;

  • Expenditures: Itemized account of all amounts expended by the lobbyist employer for receptions or other events;

  • Expenditures: Itemized account of all other amounts expended by the lobbyist employer expended for lobbying including reimbursements paid to any lobbyist;

  • Compensation: The compensation paid to each lobbyist by the lobbyist employer, prorated to reflect the time the lobbyist was engaged in lobbying during the reporting period;

  • Advertising: The cost of advertising incurred by a lobbyist employer to support or oppose executive or legislative action;

  • Transactions: Financial transactions with or for the benefit of any Metro Officer or any member of the staff of any Metro Officer.

Updated registration statements would be due on the 15th of April, July, October, and January each year that a lobbyist and lobbyist employer are registered.

Additional Prohibitions Would Now Apply

The proposed ordinance also includes prohibitions on lobbyist and lobbyist employer activities including:

  • Gifts: Giving anything of value to a Metro Officer, candidate or their immediate family members;

  • Political Campaigns: Serving as a campaign treasurer (lobbyists may not directly solicit, control, or deliver a campaign contribution for a candidate or Metro Officer);

  • Donations: Lobbyist donations political campaigns;

  • Revolving Door: Current and former Metro Officers from serving as a lobbyist for two years after leaving office;

  • Fees: Contingency fees.

Status and Next Steps

As of February 22, 2022, the proposed ordinance is in the Metro Council’s Government Oversight and Audit Committee.  Upon passage, Louisville would join 60+ other counties and municipalities in the United States with lobbying registration and reporting requirements.

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