Posts by Government Relations
From the Vermont State House | 11.10
With cases spiking nationwide and increasing…
From the Vermont State House | 10.23
During this week’s press conferences, Governor…
Jamie Feehan Featured on State Bytes Podcast
On October 1, Jamie Feehan, Director of Government…View All Practice Area Posts >>
We have a long history of effectively representing a wide variety of commercial clients in the legislature and before administrative and regulatory agencies. Our experience, knowledge of the issues, and understanding of the political, regulatory and economic conditions under which our clients operate enables us to serve as a uniquely effective advocate for our clients. Our firm’s Regulatory & Compliance Practice Group often works in concert with the Government Relations Group to help clients identify and respond effectively to legislative and regulatory opportunities and hazards. The firm also draws upon the resources of the State Capital Group, a selective global network of leading attorneys, to provide clients direct access to the latest information and developments in legislatures across the United States.
The Government Relations Group provides full-service lobbying to advance, oppose, or improve legislation affecting the firm’s clients.
- Strategic and technical legislative support
- Legislative action plans
- Drafting bills and amendments
- Testifying before legislative bodies
- Networking with legislators and lobbyists
Bill Tracking and Monitoring
Our firm serves as a client’s eyes and ears at the State House. The firm consults with our clients to determine which issues, if any, should be closely followed during a legislative session and conducts the appropriate follow-up.
- Identifies and reports on bills which do not require immediate, active lobbying
- Forwards committee schedules and up-to-date bill drafts to clients on a regularly scheduled or as-needed basis
- Legislative updates on the status of bills, committee locations, floor activity, committee reports and amendments
- Legislative monitoring by attending committee hearings on specific bills of interest and engaging in discussions with other involved partners, including legislators, officials, and other lobbyists.
Our firm serves as regulatory counsel for many of its clients on a year-round basis, drawing upon our productive working relationships with regulators and state officials to provide guidance and insights. We provide effective advocacy for clients in a wide array of contexts, including:
- Contested administrative cases
- Formal administrative rule-making procedures
- Informal resolution of many minor regulatory matters
We often collaborate with our firm’s Regulatory & Compliance Group to resolve specific challenges faced by clients.
Examples of Recent Legislative Efforts
The firm routinely participates in the development of legislation dealing with complex subject matter and works with its clients to seek prompt and successful action on such legislation. Recent examples include:
- Comprehensive lobbying and monitoring on legislation and issues affecting higher education, including increased and sustained appropriations in both the general fund and capital budgets, tax expenditures, funding formula for higher education appropriations, open meeting law revisions, board governance, and dual enrollment/early college legislation
- Comprehensive lobbying on legislation and issues affecting oral health, including increased funding for Medicaid reimbursements, enhanced funding for loan repayments and other recruitment and retention measures, opposition to a new provider tax on dentists to support health care expenditures, and opposition to authorization for a new addition to the licensed dental team, including scope of practice issues, education requirements, and related issues affecting the members of the dental team
- Comprehensive lobbying and monitoring on legislation and issues affecting education finance and property taxes, including Acts 60 and 68, subsequent amendments to those Acts, legislative and other studies of Vermont’s education finance system, and continued efforts to reform or revise that system
- Comprehensive lobbying on state energy programs promoting renewable energy mandates or similar provisions by defeating or significantly lessening such mandates on electric utilities
- Comprehensive lobbying on legislation and issues related to exemptions from property, income or sales taxes on behalf of businesses and entities in the insurance, electric, financial services, or general business industries
- Revisions to Vermont’s telecommunications law that resulted in more streamlined regulation of certain telecommunications companies
- Enhanced funding and recognition for public transit in Vermont
- Restructuring of Vermont’s captive insurance laws and premium tax structure
Frequently Asked Questions
Lobbying has a specific definition under Vermont law. “Lobby” or “Lobbying” means: (A) to communicate orally or in writing with any legislator or administrative official for the purposes of influencing legislative or administrative action; (B) Solicitation of others to influence legislative or administrative action; (C) An attempt to obtain goodwill intended ultimately influence legislative or administrative action ; or (D) Activities sponsored by an employer or lobbyist on behalf of or for the benefit of the members of an interest group, if a principal purpose of the activity is to enable such members to communicate orally with one or more legislators or administrative officials for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action or to obtain their goodwill.
A lobbyist, under Vermont law, is any person who receives or is entitled to receive, either by employment or contract, $500 or more in monetary or in-kind compensation in any calendar year for engaging in lobbying (defined term) or a person who expends more than $500 on lobbying in a calendar year. In Vermont, a lobbyist, lobbyist employer and lobbying firms all need to register and are required to provide disclosure reports. Lobbyists and lobbyist employers are required to register within 48 hours of engaging a lobbyist (of the employer) or commencing services (for the lobbyist). Lobbying firms are required to file within 48 hours any changes that may have occurred from the list of lobbyists that are employed, contracted by or are members of or affiliated with the lobbying firm.
A lobbyist employer is any person, other than a lobbying firm, who engages the services of a lobbyist for compensation for the purposes of lobbying. A lobbyist employer is basically the client of the lobbying firm and/or the lobbyist. A lobbyist is any person who receives, is entitled to receive or expends more than $500 for engaging in lobbying. A lobbying firm is a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation limited liability company or an unincorporated association which receives or is entitled to receive $500 or more in monetary or in-kind compensation for engaging in lobbying and employs more than one individual lobbyist or contracts with at least one other lobbyist or is affiliated with at least one other lobbyist.
Every lobbyist, lobbyist employer and lobbying firm is required to file online with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office using the Vermont Lobbying Information System, before or within 48 hours of commencing lobbying activities. Vermont has registration and disclosure requirements for Lobbyists, Lobbyist Employers and Lobbying Firms. Fees are slightly different for each for registration and all disclosure requirements and filings are now electronic using the online system. There is a per day penalty of $25 per day for each day the registration is late, not to exceed $350, for any registration and supplemental registration forms. The same late penalty structure applies when failing to file a disclosure report on time.
Vermont continues to modify its disclosure report deadlines. The most recent update requires monthly reports during the legislative session. Disclosure reports for lobbyists, lobbyist employers and lobbying firms are due on or before the following dates: January 15, February 15, March 15, April 15, May 15, June 15, and September 15. Also, there are new and enhance disclosure requirements on advertising intended to influence legislative action or to solicit others to influence while the legislature is in session. These include name recognition of any lobbyist, lobbyist employer or lobbying firm that paid for the advertisement and a new report (addition to the disclosure report) to be filed within 48 hours of the expenditure for any advertisement that costs more than $1,000.
The contribution limits under Vermont’s campaign finance laws differ depending on the type of candidate. For local candidates and state representatives there is a $1,000 limit per election cycle from a single source or PAC. For State Senate and Senate and County Office Candidates there is a $1,500 per election cycle limit from a single source or PAC. For statewide candidates there is a $4,000 limit per election cycle from a single source or PAC. Local, State Representative, State Senate and County Offices and Statewide Candidates can receive unlimited contributions from political parties. There is a $4,000 per election cycle limit from a single source or PACs to Political Committees. There is also a $4,000 per election cycle limit to political committees from a political party. There is a $10,000 per election cycle limit to political parties from a single source or PAC. There is also a $60,000 limit from a political party to political parties.
Any PAC that raises $1,000 or more and spends $1,000 or more needs to register within any two year general election cycle must register and file disclosure reports. This is done electronically at the Secretary of State’s Website. Vermont law requires entities meeting the definition of a PAC (217 VSA 2901(13)), except independent expenditure-only PACs, to comply with the contribution limits.
Contribution limits do not apply to Independent Expenditure-Only PACs. However, these PACS must register with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office within 10 days of reaching the Vermont threshold levels as defined for a political action committee under 17 VSA 2901(13), which is the $1,000 raised and $1,000 spent mentioned in the previous answer. Independent expenditure-only organizations are included under the definition of a PAC, however, they are further defined under 17 VSA 2901(10) as “a political committee that conducts it activities entirely independent of candidates; does not give contributions to candidates, political committees, or political parties; does not make related expenditures; and is not close related to a political party or to a political committee that makes contributions to candidates or makes related expenditures. While the contribution limits do not apply, they must register and fill all the regular disclosure reports.
Independent Expenditure-Only PACs are required to file the same Mass Media reports for expenditures totaling $500 or made within 45 days of the election. There are also additional reports required to be filed for expenditures made within 45 days of an election that totals $5,000 or more.
Lobbying isn’t directly defined under New Hampshire law. However, general guidance is provided with respect to lobbyist registration, reporting and prohibited activities.
A lobbyist, under New Hampshire law, is not directly defined. However, New Hampshire requires registration by any person, partnership, firm or corporation employed to directly or indirectly pass or defeat any piece of legislation, pending or proposed contracts and administrative rules or the procurement of goods and serves that may be or will be purchased by the state. Registered lobbyists are required to wear a clear and visible name tag on that contains the first and last name in white on a hunter orange background with either the term lobbyist or the organization represented.
A lobbyist is required to register with the Secretary of State’s office before engaging in lobbying. The fee is $50 per lobbyist for each client or employer. Registrations are valid for one year and expire December 31 of the year registered. The Secretary of State’s office provides for the appropriate forms and details required in the registrations.
New Hampshire requires each lobbyist to file an itemized statement, under oath, to the Secretary of State’s office. These statements are required no later than the last Wednesday of every April, July, October and January and are fairly detailed. The forms are provided by the Secretary of State’s office. Lobbyists must also file reports for any political contributions with the forms being provided by the Secretary of State’s office.
Contributions and expenditures are each specifically defined terms in New Hampshire campaign finance law. New Hampshire law allows for individuals to contribute up to $5,000 to candidates or political committees affiliated with candidates who voluntarily agree to an expenditure cap. Again, what constitutes a contribution is defined and what constitutes an expenditure is defined in law. For individuals that do not voluntarily agree to the cap, they may contribute up to $1,000. If an individual agrees to the cap on expenditures, than a New Hampshire PAC may contribute an unlimited amount each election. If a candidate does not agree to the cap, than a New Hampshire PAC may contribute no more than $1,000. Lobbyists are subject to the same restrictions as individuals. There is no limit relative to independent expenditures by political committees.
Yes. In-state PACs are required to register and have reporting requirements. Out of state PACs participating in New Hampshire political campaigns must also meet the same registration requirements as in-state PACs. The specific reporting requirements and forms can be found at the Secretary of State’s office.
There is no limit relative to independent expenditures by political committees.