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Testimony to
Joint Commission on Public Ethics
Comprehensive Lobbying Regulation

Presented by
Ken. Pokalsky, Vice President

October 30, 2017

On behalf of The Business Council of New York State, Inc., we appreciate this opportunity to address the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“Commission”) regarding its proposed “Comprehensive Lobbying Regulations” and its proposed amendments to its existing source of funding rule.

Previously, we submitted detailed written comments on both of these proposals, during the formal comment period that closed October 17, 2018.

Today, I would like to highlight and expand upon several issues raised in our written testimony.

The Business Council is in a unique position to provide comment on these regulations. As a state-wide employer advocacy organization, we represent about 2,400 private sector employers of all sizes and in all sectors across New York State, many of whom engage in legislative, regulatory and procurement lobbying and are subject to JCOPE oversight. On behalf of our membership, The Business Council has been long engaged in responding to legislative and regulatory proposals impacting business activities, including those governing advocacy.

In addition, as an advocacy organization, The Business Council is directly subject to the state’s Lobbying Act, and has first-hand experience in interpreting and complying with the state’s lobbying rules.  As a trade association with several thousand members, we also face unique compliance obligations not faced by most clients and lobbyists.

First, we commend JCOPE for circulating informal draft rules last fall, and for reaching out to regulated entities and the interested public for input on those initial drafts. That process was a productive one, as it provided JCOPE commissioners and staff with input on key issue and practical compliance concerns. Importantly, it also generated input on proposed language in a setting where concepts and language are more easily amended. As a result, the formal rule proposals published in the State Register this August contains a number of amendments that we and others raised during last fall’s outreach efforts.

Even so, the proposed JCOPE rulemaking still contain a number of issues of concern to us. These include regulatory proposals that are inconsistent with underlying statutory requirements, as well as proposals that failed to provide clear compliance standards – an outcome contrary to one of your main objectives.

Among our most significant concerns were the following:

In our written comments on JCOPE’s two current regulatory proposals, we also reiterated concerns that we previously raised as to compliance mandates that depart significantly from statutory authority, and in doing so add unnecessary to compliance and reporting requirements:

In closing, let me say that The Business Council appreciates the public’s interest in meaningful and timely information about, to use JCOPE’s language, “the people and entities behind those attempts at influencing decisions that can affect us all.”

We devote substantial time and effort to meeting the requirements of the Lobbying Act.  In doing so, we ask for clear compliance standards, regulations that are squarely based on statutory provisions, efficient reporting processes and technology, and a focus on meaningful information.

As always, we welcome the opportunity to discuss our comments and recommendations with Commission members and staff.