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Introduced Version Senate Bill 135 History

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Key: Green = existing Code. Red = new code to be enacted

WEST virginia legislature

2019 regular session

Introduced

Senate Bill 135

By Senator Ojeda

[Introduced January 9, 2019; Referred
to the Committee on Government Organization; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary
]

A BILL to amend and reenact §6B-3-2, §6B-3-7, and §6B-3-9 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §6B-3-3d, all relating to regulation of lobbyists; requiring registered lobbyists to purchase and wear body-mounted cameras at the Capitol and in certain other circumstances; requiring certain certifications be made by registered lobbyists; prohibiting lobbyists from making certain campaign donations; prohibiting lobbyists from loitering in the Capitol with certain exceptions; prohibiting lobbyists from making certain expenditures to benefit legislators; making body-mounted camera video and audio recordings subject to inspection by the Ethics Commission and subject to the provisions of the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act; authorizing random inspections of lobbyist body-mounted cameras; setting certain compliance requirements for lobbyists; creating a misdemeanor offense for failure to comply with certain requests for video and audio from body-mounted cameras; and creating penalties relating to access to the Capitol complex by lobbyists for violation of certain prohibited conduct.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:


Article 3. Lobbyists.

§6B-3-2. Registration of lobbyists.

(a) Before engaging in any lobbying activity, or within 30 days after being employed as a lobbyist, whichever occurs first, a lobbyist shall register with the Ethics Commission by filing a lobbyist registration statement. The registration statement shall contain information and be in a form prescribed by the Ethics Commission by legislative rule, including, but not limited to, the following information:

(1) The registrant's name, business address, telephone numbers and any temporary residential and business addresses and telephone numbers used or to be used by the registrant while lobbying during a legislative session;

(2) The name, address and occupation or business of the registrant's employer;

(3) A statement as to whether the registrant is employed or retained by his or her employer solely as a lobbyist or is a regular employee performing services for the employer which include, but are not limited to, lobbying;

(4) A statement as to whether the registrant is employed or retained by his or her employer under any agreement, arrangement or understanding according to which the registrant's compensation, or any portion of the registrant's compensation, is or will be contingent upon the success of his or her lobbying activity;

(5) The general subject or subjects, if known, on which the registrant will lobby or employ some other person to lobby in a manner which requires registration under this article; and

(6) An appended written authorization from each of the lobbyist's employers confirming the lobbyist's employment and the subjects on which the employer is to be represented; and

(7) A certification, under penalty of perjury, that the registrant has purchased a body-mounted camera at his or her own expense and that he or she will wear the body-mounted camera and record audio and video of all lobbying activity.

(b) Any lobbyist who receives or is to receive compensation from more than one person for services as a lobbyist shall file a separate notice of representation with respect to each person compensating him or her for services performed as a lobbyist. When a lobbyist whose fee for lobbying with respect to the same subject is to be paid or contributed by more than one person, then the lobbyist may file a single statement, in which he or she shall detail the name, business address and occupation of each person paying or contributing to the fee.

(c) Whenever a change, modification or termination of the lobbyist's employment occurs, the lobbyist shall, within one week of the change, modification or termination, furnish full information regarding the change, modification or termination by filing with the commission an amended registration statement.

(d) Each lobbyist who has registered shall file a new registration statement, revised as appropriate, on the Monday preceding the second Wednesday in January of each odd-numbered year and failure to do so terminates his or her authorization to lobby. Until the registration is renewed, the person may not engage in lobbying activities unless he or she is otherwise exempt under §6B-3-1(7)(B) of this code.

(e) The following public officers or employees may not, during or up to one year after the termination of their public employment or service, be allowed to register as lobbyists:

(1) Members of the Legislature;

(2) Members of the Executive Department as referenced in article VII, section one of the Constitution of West Virginia;

(3) Will and pleasure professional employees of the Legislature under the direct supervision of a member of the Legislature;

(4) Will and pleasure professional employees of members of the Executive Department under the direct supervision of the Executive Department officer and who regularly, personally and substantially participates in a decision-making or advisory capacity regarding agency or department policy;

(5) Members of the Supreme Court of Appeals;

(6) Any department secretary of an executive branch department created by the provisions of §5F-1-2 of this code; and

(7) Heads of any state departments or agencies.


§6B-3-3d. Prohibited conduct.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of code to the contrary, lobbyists are hereby prohibited from:

(1) Directly or indirectly making any political campaign donations to persons running for public office in West Virginia;

(2) Setting foot on Capitol grounds without wearing a body-mounted camera that is recording at all times while he or she is on the Capitol grounds and as otherwise required in §6B-3-7 of this code;

(3) Loitering in the Capitol without a specific scheduled meeting with a legislator or without a bill of interest to a disclosed client on a specific committee agenda or floor calendar on that day;

(4) Hosting events that provide food, refreshments, or anything of value to legislators;

(5) Providing meals, refreshments, or anything of value at the Capitol complex to legislators; and

(6) Paying for or providing anything of value to legislators for attendance at any event or function on or off the Capitol premises.

§6B-3-7. Duties of lobbyists.

A person required to register as a lobbyist under this article also has the following obligations, the violation of which constitutes cause for revocation of his or her registration and termination of his or her lobbying privileges and may subject the person, and the person's employer, if employer aids, abets, ratifies or confirms the violation, to other civil liabilities as provided by this chapter.

(1) Any person required to register as a lobbyist shall obtain, preserve and make available for inspection by the commission at any time all accounts, bills, receipts, books, papers and documents necessary to substantiate the financial reports required to be made under this article for a period of at least two years from the date of the filing of the statement to which those items relate: Provided, That if a lobbyist is required under the terms of his or her employment contract to turn any records over to his or her employer, responsibility for the preservation of the records under this subsection shall rest with the employer.

(2) In addition, a person required to register as a lobbyist may not:

(A) Engage in any lobbying activity before registering as a lobbyist;

(B) Knowingly deceive or attempt to deceive any government officer or employee as to any fact pertaining to a matter which is the subject of lobbying activity;

(C) Cause or influence the introduction of any legislation for the purpose of thereafter being employed to secure its defeat;

(D) Exercise any undue influence, extortion or unlawful retaliation upon any government officer or employee by reason of the government officer or employee's position with respect to, or his or her vote upon, any matter which is the subject of lobbying activity;

(E) Exercise undue influence upon any legislator or other privately employed government officer or employee through communications with the person's employer;

(F) Give a gift to any government officer or employee in excess of or in violation of any limitations on gifts set forth in §6B-2-5 (c) of this code or give any gift, whether lawful or unlawful, to a government officer or employee without the government officer or employee's knowledge and consent.

(3) Every lobbyist shall wear and record with his or her body-mounted camera at all times they are within the Capitol and record all conversations held with any legislator whether at the Capitol or in another location that involve any lobbying efforts. The commission may inspect the lobbyist body-mounted camera and recorded audio and video at any time and the audio and video, by and through the commission, are subject to the provisions of the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act, as contained in §29B-1-1, et seq., of this code. If the commission receives a request for the video under the provisions of that article, it shall contact the lobbyist within 24 hours and request the relevant audio and video be provided within 48 hours. If the lobbyist fails to provide the required audio and video, the credentials of that lobbyist shall be revoked and the conduct shall be treated as concealing a material fact or otherwise committing a fraud in the application pursuant to §6B-3-9 of this code. Any member or employee of the commission may conduct random inspections of the lobbyist body-mounted camera at the Capitol complex or any other location, as directed by the commission.


§6B-3-9. Penalties.

(a) Any person who is required under the provisions of this article to file an application, statement or report and who willfully and knowingly makes a false statement, conceals a material fact or otherwise commits a fraud in the application, statement or report is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000, or confined in a county or regional jail not more than one year, or both fined and confined.

(b) A person who is subject to the registration and reporting requirements of this article and who fails or refuses to register or who fails or refuses to file a required statement or report or who otherwise violates the provisions of this article may be the subject of a complaint filed with the Ethics Commission and may be proceeded against in the same manner and to the same ends as a public officer or public employee under the provisions of this chapter.

(c) A person who willfully and knowingly files a false report under the provisions of this article is liable in a civil action to any government officer or employee who sustains damage as a result of the filing or publication of the report.

(d) In addition to any other relevant penalty, a lobbyist who performs any of the prohibited conduct contained in §6B-3-3d of this code shall be barred from the Capitol complex for 30 days and the punishment shall be enforced by Capitol Police. For a second violation, the lobbyist shall be barred for two years. For a third violation, the lobbyist shall be barred for life.


 

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to modernize the regulation of lobbyists. The bill requires registered lobbyists to purchase and wear body-mounted cameras at the Capitol and in certain other circumstances. It prohibits lobbyists from making certain campaign donations and from loitering in the Capitol with certain exceptions.  It prohibits lobbyists from making certain expenditures to benefit legislators.  The bill provides that body-mounted camera video and audio recordings are subject to inspection by the Ethics Commission and subject to the provisions of the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act.  It authorizes random inspections of lobbyist body-mounted cameras and sets certain compliance requirements for lobbyists.  The bill creates a misdemeanor offense for failure to comply with certain requests for video and audio from body-mounted cameras, and creates penalties relating to access to the Capitol complex by lobbyists for violation of certain prohibited conduct.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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