2022 State Elections Toolkit
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Key Takeaways:

  • Even though most state affairs professionals often think of “lobbying” only as the direct contact made with elected officials, did you know that in some jurisdictions the time you spend preparing may also be considered lobbying?
  • While not all states view preparation time as lobbying activity, some do, and it is important to know how each jurisdiction handles this time in regard to registration thresholds.
  • Ten states currently count preparation time as lobbying activity.

While not all states view preparation time as lobbying activity, some do, and it is important to know how each jurisdiction handles this time in regard to registration thresholds. Prior to making contact with a legislator, citizens and lobbyists alike must understand the legal limits placed on communication with these officials. You may be surprised to learn that in some states, even before a word is spoken or an email is sent, lobbying activity under the law has already occurred because preparation time is considered lobbying activity. Preparation time includes gathering research materials and information, creating lobbying action plans, and finding key contacts to use for future lobbying activities. Check out the map below to see how different states treat prep time when it comes to lobbying. 

Ten states currently count preparation time as lobbying activity. For example, Louisiana defines lobbying as “any direct act or communication with a legislator, the purpose of which is to aid in influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation.” Louisiana law further clarifies that “any preparation or research specifically intended, at the time it is performed, for use in or in support of any ongoing or planned direct act or communication with a legislator, the purpose of which is to aid in influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation” is considered to be “lobbying activities.”

On the other hand, West Virginia law stops short of viewing preparation time as lobbying activity with regards to lobbyist registration thresholds. In West Virginia, you could spend countless hours of research and preparation, however, until contact with a legislator is made, no lobbying activity has occurred under state law. The statutes of West Virginia clarify that lobbying means “the act of communicating with a government officer or employee to promote, advocate or oppose or otherwise attempt to influence.”

Knowing how to navigate complexities in state lobbying laws is vital in creating an effective government relations strategy. For more help managing these communications, read more about how MultiState can help you streamline your compliance process