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January 23, 2006

Council urges clearer compliance guidelines for new lobbying law

The Business Council is urging its members to understand and address their compliance obligations under the new state lobbying law that may affect businesses and employees that are involved in selling goods and services to state and local governments.

“There is no doubt that the new ‘procurement lobbying law’ will affect many employers in New York State that sell goods and services to government in New York, even even for activities by the employer that don’t constitute conventional lobbying,” said Ken Pokalsky, the Council’s specialist in state laws related to lobbying.

“We are urging our members to read the law and consult with counsel about what they must do to comply with the law and how this should affect the way they conduct business,” he added. “Violations of this law, even inadvertent ones, may subject employers to stiff penalities, including a ban on doing business with the state.”

Pokalsky added that The Business Council has prepared a compliance alert to help its members understand the basic requirements of the new act.

Pokalsky submitted Business Council testimony to the state Lobbying Commission Jan. 19 arguing that key provisions of the law and the Commission’s draft compliance guidelines may not be sufficiently clear to employers and individuals.

The testimony noted that most Council members that do business with state and local governments neither employ nor retain registered lobbyists but are now subject to the state lobbying law.

Business needs clarity and certainty with regard to compliance obligation, Pokalsky testified. Council members want to comply with the new law, but to do so, they need a clear understanding of how the law applies to them.

Pokalsky said the Council is urging the state’s Lobbying Commission to adopt compliance guidelines to help employers be sure they know how to obey the law. He also said that the legislature should consider giving the Commission formal rulemaking authority, and adopt regulations under procedures spelled out by the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA), which provides for formal comment periods.

The Council's "compliance alert" is at www.bcnys.org/inside/contpro/2006/compliancealert2.pdf.