- Following a scandal involving lobbyists and a Louisville Metro Council member, Louisville, Kentucky will now join other cities with local lobbying ordinances.
- The new ordinance imposes new registration and reporting requirements on lobbyists and lobbyist employers who wish to influence the local government of Kentucky’s largest city.
- The ordinance goes into effect in May 2023 and mirrors Kentucky’s legislative lobbying registration and reporting process with a few key differences.
Following a property development scandal involving a Louisville Metro Council member, the Louisville (KY) Metro Council has unanimously passed an ordinance (O-058-22) to require the registration of lobbyists and lobbyist employers in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, beginning May 2023.
The Impact on Lobbying in Louisville
The new ordinance adds a new subtitle to Chapter 21 of the Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances, the city’s Ethics Code, to define who a lobbyist is and creates a reporting structure for lobbyists and their employers seeking to influence the council or the executive branch of city government.
The newly passed 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.
Registration under the ordinance is similar to Kentucky’s legislative lobbyist registration process and requires much of the same information. Lobbyists and lobbyist employers have seven days to register with the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Ethics Commission following engagement of the lobbyist. Registrations would be valid for two calendar years (January 1 - December 31), unless the registration is terminated prior to expiration, with renewals occurring every even-numbered year.
In addition to registration, each lobbyist and lobbyist employer are required to update their registration statement semi-annually 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 contract 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 prior to the first day of July and prior to the first day in January each year that a lobbyist and lobbyist employer are registered. The July statement will cover the period between December 16 and June 15 and the January statement will cover the period between June 16 and December 15.
For lobbyists already lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly, these requirements may sound familiar. Indeed, the ordinance is based on Kentucky’s decades old lobbying law.
Prohibitions Would Apply
The ordinance also includes prohibitions on lobbyist and lobbyist employer activities including:
Gifts: Giving any thing or service valued at greater than $50 to a Metro Officer, candidate or their immediate family members (Note that entertainment, food, refreshments, meals, or beverages valued at more than $50 may be provided to Metro Council members or other Metro officers if invitations are extended to the entire membership of the council provided the value does not exceed $300 per individual officer/council member.);
Revolving Door: Current and former Metro Officers may not serve as a lobbyist for one year after leaving office;
Fees: Contingency fees.
The ordinance as introduced would have also prohibited lobbyists serving as the treasurer of a political campaign in Louisville and lobbyist contributions to political campaigns. These prohibitions were removed from the final ordinance.
The ordinance passed the Metro Council unanimously on November 10, 2022. Registrations will begin 180 days after the effective date of the ordinance. Currently, we are looking at a start date of May 10, 2023. Upon passage, Louisville joined more than 60 other counties and municipalities in the U.S. with lobbying registration and reporting requirements.
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