How does the new lobbying law pertain to Board Members?

  • Question: I am a member of the board of directors of a non-profit organization that advocates for civil rights and equity issues. Board members are unpaid and volunteer their time. Many of the board members write, meet or call legislators and engage in other legislative lobbying to promote the organization’s agenda. Do the board members who contact legislators or engage in legislative lobbying have to register as a legislative agent or lobbyist?
    • Answer: No. Volunteer board members of a non-profit organization do not have to register as a lobbyist. The lobbying law does not consider someone to be a legislative agent or lobbyist unless the person is “compensated or rewarded” for engaging in lobbying activities. It does not matter, therefore, how many hours unpaid volunteer board members lobby for their non-profit organization. If they are not paid to lobby, they are not legislative agents and they do not have to register.
  • Question: I serve on an unpaid, volunteer board of a non-profit organization. Sometimes we hold board meetings during the workday. Board members, who are employed, attend on their lunch hours or use personal time from their employers to attend board meetings. For example, I am a legal secretary and another member is a banker. My employer has a written policy while the banker’s employer has a customary practice that allows employees to participate in community service during the day. Does merely attending board meeting during the day mean we are paid by our employer to attend board meetings and therefore have to register?
    • Answer: No. Although some or all of the board members of a non-profit organization may be employed by other organizations or businesses, such employment does not make them lobbyists. This is because they are not being paid, or as the statute says “compensated or rewarded” for their service on the non-profit organization. Moreover, such employment does not make them a lobbyist even if the organization and its lobbying activities are of concern to their employer’s business unless there are other factors involved.
  • Question: I am a member of the board of directors of a non-profit organization that advocates for civil rights and equity issues. Board members are unpaid and volunteer their time. Many of the board members write, meet or call legislators and engage in other legislative lobbying to promote the organization’s agenda. Do the board members who contact legislators or engage in legislative lobbying have to register as a legislative agent or lobbyist?
    • Answer: Yes, you are compensated for purposes of the lobbying law. Although you are not compensated by the non-profit for your service as a board member or its lobbying activities, your service on the board and your lobbying are part of your usual professional responsibilities. You will, therefore, have to register as a legislative agent unless your lobbying activity is “incidental” for purposes of the lobbying law. Lobbying activities are presumed to be incidental if, during a six-month reporting period, you
      • (a) engage in lobbying for no more than 25 hours and
      • (b) are paid no more than $2,500 for such lobbying.