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2004 Florida Statutes
Lobbyists; registration and reporting; exemptions; penalties.
11.045 Lobbyists; 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) "Division" means the Division of Legislative Information Services within the Office of Legislative Services.
(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.
(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 which 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) "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.
(g) "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.
(c) A registrant shall promptly send a written statement to the division canceling the registration for a principal upon termination of the lobbyist's representation of that principal. Notwithstanding this requirement, the division 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 lobbyist 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 lobbying expenditures. Any documents and records retained pursuant to this section may be inspected under reasonable circumstances by any authorized representative of the Legislature. The right of inspection may be enforced by appropriate writ issued by any court of competent jurisdiction.
(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 by rule the following reporting requirements:
(a) Statements shall be filed by all registered lobbyists two times per year, which must disclose all lobbying expenditures by the lobbyist and the principal and the source of funds for such expenditures. All expenditures made by the lobbyist and the principal for the purpose of lobbying must be reported. Reporting of expenditures shall be made on an accrual basis. The report of such expenditures must identify whether the expenditure was made directly by the lobbyist, directly by the principal, initiated or expended by the lobbyist and paid for by the principal, or initiated or expended by the principal and paid for by the lobbyist. The principal is responsible for the accuracy of the expenditures reported as lobbying expenditures made by the principal. The lobbyist is responsible for the accuracy of the expenditures reported as lobbying expenditures made by the lobbyist. Expenditures made must be reported by the category of the expenditure, including, but not limited to, the categories of food and beverages, entertainment, research, communication, media advertising, publications, travel, and lodging. Lobbying expenditures do not include a lobbyist's or principal's salary, office expenses, and personal expenses for lodging, meals, and travel.
(b) If a principal is represented by two or more lobbyists, the first lobbyist who registers to represent that principal shall be the designated lobbyist. The designated lobbyist's expenditure report shall include all lobbying expenditures made directly by the principal and those expenditures of the designated lobbyist on behalf of that principal as required by paragraph (a). All other lobbyists registered to represent that principal shall file a report pursuant to paragraph (a). The report of lobbying expenditures by the principal shall be made pursuant to the requirements of paragraph (a). The principal is responsible for the accuracy of figures reported by the designated lobbyist as lobbying expenditures made directly by the principal. The designated lobbyist is responsible for the accuracy of the figures reported as lobbying expenditures made by that lobbyist. Each lobbyist shall file an expenditure report for each period during any portion of which he or she was registered, and each principal shall ensure that an expenditure report is filed for each period during any portion of which the principal was represented by a registered lobbyist.
(c) For each reporting period the division shall aggregate the expenditures reported by all of the lobbyists for a principal represented by more than one lobbyist. Further, the division shall aggregate figures that provide a cumulative total of expenditures reported as spent by and on behalf of each principal for the calendar year.
(d) The reporting statements shall be filed no later than 45 days after the end of the reporting period. The first report shall include the expenditures for the period from January 1 through June 30. The second report shall disclose expenditures for the period from July 1 through December 31. The statements shall be rendered in the identical form provided by the respective houses and shall be open to public inspection. Reporting statements may be filed by electronic means, when feasible.
(e) Reports shall be filed not later than 5 p.m. of the report due date. However, any report that is postmarked by the United States Postal Service no later than midnight of the due date shall be deemed to have been filed in a timely manner, and a certificate of mailing obtained from and dated by the United States Postal Service at the time of the mailing, or a receipt from an established courier company which bears a date on or before the due date, shall be proof of mailing in a timely manner.
(f) Each house of the Legislature shall provide by rule, or both houses may provide by joint rule, a procedure by which a lobbyist who fails to timely file a report shall be notified and assessed fines. The rule shall provide for the following:
1. Upon determining that the report is late, the person designated to review the timeliness of reports shall immediately notify the lobbyist 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 report is postmarked.
c. When the certificate of mailing is dated.
d. When the receipt from an established courier company is dated.
3. Such fine shall be paid within 30 days after the notice of payment due is transmitted by the Lobbyist Registration Office, unless appeal is made to the division. The moneys shall be deposited into the Legislative Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund.
4. A fine shall not be assessed against a lobbyist the first time any reports for which the lobbyist is responsible are not timely filed. However, to receive the one-time fine waiver, all reports for which the lobbyist 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 lobbyist may appeal or dispute a fine, based upon unusual circumstances surrounding the failure to file on the designated due date, and may request and shall be 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 shall be made within 30 days after the notice of payment due is transmitted by the Lobbyist Registration Office. In such case, the lobbyist 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 lobbyist, a lobbyist's legal representative, or the principal of a lobbyist may request that the filing of an expenditure 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. The registration of a lobbyist who fails to timely pay a fine is automatically suspended until the fine is paid or waived.
7. The person designated to review the timeliness of reports shall notify the director of the division of the failure of a lobbyist to file a report after notice or of the failure of a lobbyist to pay the fine imposed.
(4) 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.
(5) Each house of the Legislature shall keep all advisory opinions of the committees relating to lobbyists and lobbying activities, as well as a current list of registered lobbyists and their respective reports required under this section, all of which shall be open for public inspection.
(6) The committee of either house shall investigate any person engaged in legislative lobbying upon receipt of a sworn complaint alleging a violation of this section, s. 112.3148, or s. 112.3149 by such person. 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.
(7) 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 (6).
(8) 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 lobbyist 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.