2015 Florida Statutes
Lobbying before the Legislature; registration and reporting; exemptions; penalties.
Lobbying before the Legislature; registration and reporting; exemptions; penalties.
11.045 Lobbying before the Legislature; registration and reporting; exemptions; penalties.—
(1) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) “Committee” means the committee of each house charged by the presiding officer with responsibility for ethical conduct of lobbyists.
(b) “Compensation” means a payment, distribution, loan, advance, reimbursement, deposit, salary, fee, retainer, or anything of value provided or owed to a lobbying firm, directly or indirectly, by a principal for any lobbying activity.
(c) “Expenditure” means a payment, distribution, loan, advance, reimbursement, deposit, or anything of value made by a lobbyist or principal for the purpose of lobbying. The term does not include:
1. Contributions or expenditures reported pursuant to chapter 106 or federal election law, campaign-related personal services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering their time, any other contribution or expenditure made by or to a political party or affiliated party committee, or any other contribution or expenditure made by an organization that is exempt from taxation under 26 U.S.C. s. 527 or s. 501(c)(4).
2. A public-legislative use, which is the use of a public facility or public property that is made available by a governmental entity to a legislator for a public purpose, regardless of whether the governmental entity is required to register a person as a lobbyist pursuant to this section.
(d) “Legislative action” means introduction, sponsorship, testimony, debate, voting, or any other official action on any measure, resolution, amendment, nomination, appointment, or report of, or any matter that may be the subject of action by, either house of the Legislature or any committee thereof.
(e) “Lobbying” means influencing or attempting to influence legislative action or nonaction through oral or written communication or an attempt to obtain the goodwill of a member or employee of the Legislature.
(f) “Lobbying firm” means any business entity, including an individual contract lobbyist, which receives or becomes entitled to receive any compensation for the purpose of lobbying, where any partner, owner, officer, or employee of the business entity is a lobbyist.
(g) “Lobbyist” means a person who is employed and receives payment, or who contracts for economic consideration, for the purpose of lobbying, or a person who is principally employed for governmental affairs by another person or governmental entity to lobby on behalf of that other person or governmental entity.
(h) “Office” means the Office of Legislative Services.
(i) “Principal” means the person, firm, corporation, or other entity which has employed or retained a lobbyist.
(2) Each house of the Legislature shall provide by rule, or may provide by a joint rule adopted by both houses, for the registration of lobbyists who lobby the Legislature. The rule may provide for the payment of a registration fee. The rule may provide for exemptions from registration or registration fees. The rule shall provide that:
(a) Registration is required for each principal represented.
(b) Registration shall include a statement signed by the principal or principal’s representative that the registrant is authorized to represent the principal. The principal shall also identify and designate its main business on the statement authorizing that lobbyist pursuant to a classification system approved by the Office of Legislative Services.
(c) A registrant shall promptly send a written statement to the office canceling the registration for a principal upon termination of the lobbyist’s representation of that principal. However, the office may remove the name of a registrant from the list of registered lobbyists if the principal notifies the office that a person is no longer authorized to represent that principal.
(d) Every registrant shall be required to state the extent of any direct business association or partnership with any current member of the Legislature.
(e) Each lobbying firm and each principal shall preserve for a period of 4 years all accounts, bills, receipts, computer records, books, papers, and other documents and records necessary to substantiate compensation. Any documents and records retained pursuant to this section may be subpoenaed for audit by legislative subpoena of either house of the Legislature, and the subpoena may be enforced in circuit court.
(f) All registrations shall be open to the public.
(g) Any person who is exempt from registration under the rule shall not be considered a lobbyist for any purpose.
(3) Each house of the Legislature shall provide the following reporting requirements by rule:
(a)1. Each lobbying firm shall file a compensation report with the office for each calendar quarter during any portion of which one or more of the firm’s lobbyists were registered to represent a principal. The report must include the:
a. Full name, business address, and telephone number of the lobbying firm;
b. Name of each of the firm’s lobbyists; and
c. Total compensation provided or owed to the lobbying firm from all principals for the reporting period, reported in one of the following categories: $0; $1 to $49,999; $50,000 to $99,999; $100,000 to $249,999; $250,000 to $499,999; $500,000 to $999,999; $1 million or more.
2. For each principal represented by one or more of the firm’s lobbyists, the lobbying firm’s compensation report must also include the:
a. Full name, business address, and telephone number of the principal; and
b. Total compensation provided or owed to the lobbying firm for the reporting period, reported in one of the following categories: $0; $1 to $9,999; $10,000 to $19,999; $20,000 to $29,999; $30,000 to $39,999; $40,000 to $49,999; or $50,000 or more. If the category “$50,000 or more” is selected, the specific dollar amount of compensation must be reported, rounded up or down to the nearest $1,000.
3. If the lobbying firm subcontracts work from another lobbying firm and not from the original principal:
a. The lobbying firm providing the work to be subcontracted shall be treated as the reporting lobbying firm’s principal for reporting purposes under this paragraph; and
b. The reporting lobbying firm shall, for each lobbying firm identified under subparagraph 2., identify the name and address of the principal originating the lobbying work.
4. The senior partner, officer, or owner of the lobbying firm shall certify to the veracity and completeness of the information submitted pursuant to this paragraph.
(b) For each principal represented by more than one lobbying firm, the office shall aggregate the reporting-period and calendar-year compensation reported as provided or owed by the principal.
(c) The reporting statements shall be filed no later than 45 days after the end of each reporting period. The four reporting periods are from January 1 through March 31, April 1 through June 30, July 1 through September 30, and October 1 through December 31, respectively. The statements shall be rendered in the identical form provided by the respective houses and shall be open to public inspection. Reporting statements must be filed by electronic means as provided in s. 11.0455.
(d) Each house of the Legislature shall provide by rule, or both houses may provide by joint rule, a procedure by which a lobbying firm that fails to timely file a report shall be notified and assessed fines. The rule must provide the following:
1. Upon determining that the report is late, the person designated to review the timeliness of reports shall immediately notify the lobbying firm as to the failure to timely file the report and that a fine is being assessed for each late day. The fine shall be $50 per day per report for each late day, not to exceed $5,000 per report.
2. Upon receipt of the report, the person designated to review the timeliness of reports shall determine the amount of the fine due based upon the earliest of the following:
a. When a report is actually received by the lobbyist registration and reporting office.
b. When the electronic receipt issued pursuant to s. 11.0455 is dated.
3. Such fine must be paid within 30 days after the notice of payment due is transmitted by the Lobbyist Registration Office, unless appeal is made to the office. The moneys shall be deposited into the Legislative Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund.
4. A fine may not be assessed against a lobbying firm the first time any reports for which the lobbying firm is responsible are not timely filed. However, to receive the one-time fine waiver, all reports for which the lobbying firm is responsible must be filed within 30 days after notice that any reports have not been timely filed is transmitted by the Lobbyist Registration Office. A fine shall be assessed for any subsequent late-filed reports.
5. Any lobbying firm may appeal or dispute a fine, based upon unusual circumstances surrounding the failure to file on the designated due date, and may request and is entitled to a hearing before the General Counsel of the Office of Legislative Services, who shall recommend to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or their respective designees, that the fine be waived in whole or in part for good cause shown. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or their respective designees, may concur in the recommendation and waive the fine in whole or in part. Any such request must be made within 30 days after the notice of payment due is transmitted by the Lobbyist Registration Office. In such case, the lobbying firm shall, within the 30-day period, notify the person designated to review the timeliness of reports in writing of his or her intention to request a hearing.
6. A lobbying firm may request that the filing of a report be waived upon good cause shown, based on unusual circumstances. The request must be filed with the General Counsel of the Office of Legislative Services, who shall make a recommendation concerning the waiver request to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives may grant or deny the request.
7. All lobbyist registrations for lobbyists who are partners, owners, officers, or employees of a lobbying firm that fails to timely pay a fine are automatically suspended until the fine is paid or waived, and the office shall promptly notify all affected principals of any suspension or reinstatement.
8. The person designated to review the timeliness of reports shall notify the coordinator of the office of the failure of a lobbying firm to file a report after notice or of the failure of a lobbying firm to pay the fine imposed.
(4)(a) Notwithstanding s. 112.3148, s. 112.3149, or any other provision of law to the contrary, no lobbyist or principal shall make, directly or indirectly, and no member or employee of the Legislature shall knowingly accept, directly or indirectly, any expenditure, except floral arrangements or other celebratory items given to legislators and displayed in chambers the opening day of a regular session.
(b) No person shall provide compensation for lobbying to any individual or business entity that is not a lobbying firm.
(5) Each house of the Legislature shall provide by rule a procedure by which a person, when in doubt about the applicability and interpretation of this section in a particular context, may submit in writing the facts for an advisory opinion to the committee of either house and may appear in person before the committee. The rule shall provide a procedure by which:
(a) The committee shall render advisory opinions to any person who seeks advice as to whether the facts in a particular case would constitute a violation of this section.
(b) The committee shall make sufficient deletions to prevent disclosing the identity of persons in the decisions or opinions.
(c) All advisory opinions of the committee shall be numbered, dated, and open to public inspection.
(6) Each house of the Legislature shall provide by rule for keeping all advisory opinions of the committees relating to lobbying firms, lobbyists, and lobbying activities. The rule shall also provide that each house keep a current list of registered lobbyists along with reports required of lobbying firms under this section, all of which shall be open for public inspection.
(7) Each house of the Legislature shall provide by rule that a committee of either house investigate any person upon receipt of a sworn complaint alleging a violation of this section, s. 112.3148, or s. 112.3149 by such person; also, the rule shall provide that a committee of either house investigate any lobbying firm upon receipt of audit information indicating a possible violation other than a late-filed report. Such proceedings shall be conducted pursuant to the rules of the respective houses. If the committee finds that there has been a violation of this section, s. 112.3148, or s. 112.3149, it shall report its findings to the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as appropriate, together with a recommended penalty, to include a fine of not more than $5,000, reprimand, censure, probation, or prohibition from lobbying for a period of time not to exceed 24 months. Upon the receipt of such report, the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall cause the committee report and recommendations to be brought before the respective house and a final determination shall be made by a majority of said house.
(8) Any person required to be registered or to provide information pursuant to this section or pursuant to rules established in conformity with this section who knowingly fails to disclose any material fact required by this section or by rules established in conformity with this section, or who knowingly provides false information on any report required by this section or by rules established in conformity with this section, commits a noncriminal infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000. Such penalty shall be in addition to any other penalty assessed by a house of the Legislature pursuant to subsection (7).
(9) There is hereby created the Legislative Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund, to be used for the purpose of funding any office established for the administration of the registration of lobbyists lobbying the Legislature, including the payment of salaries and other expenses, and for the purpose of paying the expenses incurred by the Legislature in providing services to lobbyists. The trust fund is not subject to the service charge to general revenue provisions of chapter 215. Fees collected pursuant to rules established in accordance with subsection (2) shall be deposited into the Legislative Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund.
History.—s. 1, ch. 78-268; s. 1, ch. 90-502; s. 1, ch. 91-292; s. 2, ch. 93-121; s. 1, ch. 96-203; s. 1, ch. 98-136; s. 2, ch. 2000-122; s. 1, ch. 2000-232; ss. 1, 2, ch. 2005-359; s. 11, ch. 2006-275; ss. 27, 30, ch. 2011-6; HJR 7105, 2011 Regular Session; s. 1, ch. 2012-51; s. 1, ch. 2015-28.