An Act To Improve the Reporting of Grassroots Lobbying
Sec. 1. 3 MRSA §312-A, sub-§7-B, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 282, §1, is amended to read:
"Grassroots lobbying" does not include a person communicating with the person's stockholders, employees, board members, officers or dues-paying members.
Sec. 2. 3 MRSA §312-A, sub-§11-A, as amended by PL 2009, c. 282, §2, is further amended to read:
Sec. 3. 3 MRSA §317, sub-§1, ¶E-1, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 282, §4, is amended to read:
Sec. 4. 3 MRSA §317-A is enacted to read:
§ 317-A. Grassroots lobbying report
Except for a lobbyist filing a monthly report under section 317, subsection 1, paragraph E-1, a person who makes or incurs expenditures in excess of $2,000 during a calendar month for purposes of grassroots lobbying shall file with the commission a report no later than 11:59 p.m. on the 15th day of the calendar month following the date on which that amount was exceeded. For purposes of this section, expenditures include payments of money made to independent contractors and other vendors to purchase goods and services such as advertising, graphic or website design, video or audio production services, telecommunications services, printing and postage. Salaries paid to the person's employees are not expenditures for the purposes of this section and are exempt from disclosure under this section.
Sec. 5. Effective date. This Act takes effect December 1, 2020.
This bill amends the requirement for lobbyists to report expenditures for communications with members of the public urging them to contact elected officials to support or oppose legislation. The bill changes the term "indirect lobbying" to "grassroots lobbying" and amends its definition. Current law requires lobbyists to report payments by their clients for indirect lobbying if those payments exceed $15,000 in a month. The bill reduces the reporting threshold to $2,000 in a calendar month. The communications subject to the report are expanded to include digital communications, including e-mails, telephone calls and communications by a website or other digital format. The bill also establishes a requirement for persons who have not engaged a lobbyist to report their financial activities related to grassroots lobbying. The $2,000 threshold applies only to payments to independent contractors and vendors for purposes of grassroots lobbying, such as advertising or website design. The salaries paid by the person to employees for working on grassroots communications are not applied to the $2,000 threshold and are exempt from disclosure. The effective date is December 1, 2020.