2024 Legislative Session Dates
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Key Takeaways:

  • In December, the Chicago City Council passed legislation that makes several changes to city lobbying laws, including an update to the city’s threshold requirement for registering as a lobbyist.
  • Effective July 1, the city will implement one of two thresholds: a cash threshold of $1,250 (for either compensation or expenditures) or an hourly threshold of 20 hours spent lobbying each quarter. Other changes are exemptions for nonprofits and grassroots lobbying, and changes to reporting of travel and related expenses.
  • Another pending bill appears on hold for now. The City Council advanced legislation out of the Ethics Committee that would’ve banned lobbyists from contributing to mayoral campaigns but it appears to have stalled. Another bill would implement a small-donor public matching program for City Council races.


As a result of its history of political corruption, Chicago has some of the strictest lobbying and campaign finance regulations among American municipal governments. Those laws are always subject to updates, and in recent months, lawmakers have enacted further reforms to the political process in Chicago. Alderman Matt Martin, who has made government reform his focus, introduced several ethics bills this year with one becoming law. 

Recent Changes to City Lobbying Laws (Effective July 1, 2024)

In December, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance (SO2023-0002937) that made several changes to city lobbying laws and went into effect on July 1, 2024. Many of these changes are technical in nature, but some are more substantive:

  • The biggest change involves an update to the city’s threshold requirement for registering as a lobbyist. Previously anyone who engaged in influencing a legislative or administrative action was required to register with the City of Chicago as a lobbyist. Effective July 1, the city will implement one of two thresholds: a cash threshold of $1,250 (for either lobbying compensation or expenditures) or an hourly threshold of twenty hours spent lobbying each quarter. 

  • There are also exemptions for non-profit organizations. Going forward, employees of non-profit organizations will be required to register as lobbyists if the organization in question has an operating budget and net assets of at least $5 million. 

  • Grassroots lobbying will also be exempted from quarterly reporting requirements if no other lobbying was conducted during the quarter. 

  • Lastly, the ordinance will only require lobbyists to report their expenses for travel, lodging, and personal sustenance if those expenses total $50 or more during a quarterly reporting period.

Other Potential Changes Coming

One other Martin-backed bill that would alter Chicago lobbying and campaign law appears on hold for now. The City Council advanced legislation out of the Ethics Committee that would’ve banned lobbyists from contributing to mayoral campaigns. However, council allies of Mayor Brandon Johnson pushed to postpone consideration of this bill until at least July, believing the legislation to unfairly target the mayor over his campaign contributions from unions. 

Alderman Martin has also introduced legislation to implement a small-donor public matching program for City Council races. The legislation would allow City Council candidates to opt in to the program and those candidates who choose to opt in would agree to abide by lower contribution limits in exchange for public matching funds from the city. They would receive a one-time donation of $50,000 for opting in (similar to Washington, D.C.’s public matching funds program) and would receive further matching funds from the city if they met certain thresholds for small donor donations (including sixty donations of $150 or less from donors within the candidate’s ward). A 2015 city referendum saw 80% of voters supporting public financing of city elections, but no legislative action was taken by the city, leaving Chicago as the largest city in the country without some form of public campaign financing for municipal elections. Evanston, Chicago’s neighbor to its north, passed its own small donor matching fund into law last fall.


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