If you own or develop real estate, own a business in the City of Philadelphia, or provide services to the City, you may want to pay particular attention to the City's new lobbying disclosure law, even though you may not be subject to the state's lobbying disclosure law.

Although the City's law is similar to the state's law in many respects, it significantly expands the scope of lobbying. State law limits lobbying to efforts to influence actions in the legislature, actions in the executive branch of "general application and future effect," and procurement. The scope of lobbying under the City law also includes influencing zoning, licensing, and permitting determinations and administration of any City contracts. These are frequent activities for real estate developers, business owners, and City service providers. Many others will be surprised to learn that they are lobbying when they are attempting to influence the adjudication of fines or fees. In addition, employees of public agencies who would be exempt under state law are not exempt under the City law.   

If you're lobbying―or if someone is lobbying on your behalf―then you'll need to register with the Board of Ethics and report your lobbying expenses starting July 1, 2011. Registration will cost $500, unless determined otherwise by the Board of Ethics. In the meantime, certain restrictions are applicable to lobbyists, such as serving as a treasurer on a political campaign, lying to City officials, and improperly influencing City officials. Penalties range from $500 to $2,000 per violation.

The next step is for the City to provide the Board of Ethics, which regulates City lobbyists, the funding to administer and enforce the registration/reporting requirements. The Board of Ethics reportedly is seeking an additional $630,000 in the coming fiscal year to implement the registration software and to hire additional staff to administer the program. That sum is not guaranteed from the City.

For more information or questions, please contact Michael D. Fabius, at 215.864.8246 or fabiusm@ballardspahr.com, or any other member of Ballard Spahr's Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs Group.  


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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.