Lobbying Amendments Pending at Council Rules and Elections Committee

In September, the City Ethics Commission (CEC) transmitted to the City Council a series of recommended amendments to update and strengthen the City’s lobbying laws. The proposals were referred to the Council’s Rules and Elections Committee, where they remain pending and may be taken up after the first of the year.

The City’s Municipal Lobbying Ordinance requires registration by lobbyists and lobbying firms, as well as quarterly disclosure by lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbying organizations regarding their lobbying activities, compensation, expenses, and political contributions. A number of amendments have been made to the ordinance in the last 10 years, and the CEC concluded that the ordinance needed a comprehensive review to ensure that it is as clear, strong, fair, and enforceable as possible.

Over the past two years, Commission staff worked steadily to thoroughly evaluate city lobbying laws by assessing feedback from the public, City agencies, and the lobbying community, and by reviewing its own experiences administering and enforcing the law, as well as laws in other jurisdictions. The Commission determined that the ordinance could be improved in a variety of ways and, on September 3, 2009, forwarded a comprehensive proposal to the City Council for its consideration.

The Commission’s proposals continue to be founded on several key principles: transparency, honesty, fair play, objectivity, accountability, and citizen participation. Specific amendments are designed to clarify when a person is subject to the City’s lobbying laws, to increase public access to vital lobbying information, and to enhance enforceability. To achieve these goals, the Commission is recommending that the definitions of “lobbyist” and “lobbying” be amended and that others changes be made in the areas of registration, quarterly reports, other disclosures, prohibitions, and enforcement. The Commission’s complete proposal and its specific recommendations can be viewed at the CEC’s website at: http://ethics.lacity.org/pdf/lobbying/ComprehensReviewRecommendChangeMLO_Sept09.pdf.

To learn more about the Commission’s proposals, or to stay apprised of any legislative developments, visit the City’s Early Notification System Subscription Page and sign up to receive electronic notification of the City Rules and Elections Committee agendas. You may also track the proposal through the City’s Council File Management System by entering the following council file number: 07-3005-S2. For any additional information or background about the Commission’s proposals, feel free to contact the Ethics Commission’s Policy and Legislative staff at email at ethics.policy@lacity.org or by phone at (213) 978-1960.

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