JCOPE Adopts Sweeping, First-Ever Comprehensive New York Lobbying Regulations

Harris Beach PLLC

At the April 24, 2018 meeting of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“JCOPE”) -- the regulator of state and local lobbying activities in the State of New York -- the agency unanimously adopted the state’s first-ever Comprehensive Lobbying Regulations.  Upon recommendation by the commission, the final regulations will take full effect on January 1, 2019.

JCOPE initiated this sweeping regulatory effort two years ago, soliciting informal comment on prior “preliminary draft regulations” and holding public hearings. The regulations cover lobbying activities at both the state and municipal (e.g., NYC) levels.  For over the last three decades, the regulation of lobbying in New York state was handled through a variety of guidance documents, advisory opinions and non-authoritative interpretations of New York’s Lobbying Act dating back to 1978. The new regulations incorporate these prior positions into uniform regulations, which are designed to  provide a clearer picture of JCOPE’s interpretation of the Lobbying Act and expectations for compliance within the lobbying community.

The regulations address several substantive areas regarding the regulation of lobbying activities, including:

  • defining and clarifying the definitions of direct lobbying contacts
  • indirect (“grassroots”) lobbying contacts
  • when social media communications constitute reportable lobbying activity
  • who must register as a lobbyist for Lobby Days
  • filing requirements for coalitions
  • establishing a new late-filing fee schedule and penalties
  • further refining reportable business relationships
  • expanding the definition of procurement contracts to include PILOT and other agreements negotiated with industrial development agencies (“IDAs”)

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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