Bill Text - SB482 (2008)

Relative to ethical standards for volunteer service in the executive branch.


Revision: Jan. 1, 2008, midnight

SB 482 – AS AMENDED BY THE HOUSE

15May2008… 1791h

15May2008… 1786h

2008 SESSION

08-2769

05/01

SENATE BILL 482

AN ACT relative to lobbyist registration, executive branch ethics, volunteer public service, and legislative financial disclosure forms.

SPONSORS: Sen. Burling, Dist 5

COMMITTEE: Election Law and Internal Affairs

AMENDED ANALYSIS

This bill:

I. Changes the frequency and content of the statements required to be filed by lobbyists.

II. Exempts certain appointed and volunteer service from the financial disclosure requirements.

III. Establishes an executive branch public register of volunteers.

IV. Changes the restrictions on members of the executive branch ethics committee.

V. Allows legislative financial disclosure forms to satisfy requirements of RSA 15-A.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

15May2008… 1791h

15May2008… 1786h

08-2769

05/01

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eight

AN ACT relative to lobbyist registration, executive branch ethics, volunteer public service, and legislative financial disclosure forms.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Expiration Date. Amend RSA 15:1, IV to read as follows:

IV. All registrations required under this section shall expire on December [1] 31.

2 New Paragraph; Exclusions From Requirements. Amend RSA 15:1 by inserting after paragraph IV the following new paragraph:

V. The following communications are excluded from the regulation imposed by this chapter and shall not be considered in a determination of whether a person is required to register and report as a lobbyist:

(a) Public testimony before a legislative committee or subcommittee;

(b) Public testimony before any entity subject to RSA 91-A, the right-to-know law;

(c) A written document filed in the course of a public proceeding or any other communication that is made on the record in a public proceeding;

(d) Communication made by a public official acting in the public official’s official capacity;

(e) Communication made by a representative of a media organization if the purpose of the communication is gathering or disseminating news and information to the public;

(f) Communication made in a speech, article, publication, or other material that is distributed and made available to the public, or through radio, television, cable television, the internet, or other media of mass communication;

(g) Communication made in writing which becomes a public record subject to the provisions of RSA 91-A, the right-to-know law, provided in response to a written request by a legislative or executive branch official; and

(h) Attendance or participation in executive and legislative branch task forces, work groups, stakeholder groups, and other similar meetings which are not subject to RSA 91-A, provided that, prior to or concurrent with the convening of any such group or meeting, the convening authority files with the secretary of state a statement listing the subject matter, participants, and anticipated duration of the group or meeting and provides a copy to the participants. The secretary of state shall make available a form to effectuate the purpose of this filing requirement.

3 Lobbyist Statements. Amend RSA 15:6, II to read as follows:

II. Lobbyists shall file statements no later than the [second Friday] last Wednesday of each [month] January, April, July, and October covering all fees received and expenditures, contributions, honorariums, or expense reimbursements made [during the previous month,] since the last required filing, from fees received at any time from a lobbying client or employer or from funds otherwise provided by the lobbyist, partnership, firm, or corporation, or from the client or employer.

4 Lobbyist Statements. Amend RSA 15:6, V(f)-(h) to read as follows:

(f) [For each political contribution made that is reportable pursuant to RSA 664:

(1) The name of the candidate.

(2) The office the candidate is seeking.

(3) The value of the contribution.

(4) If the contribution is an in-kind contribution, a brief description of the contribution.

(g)] For all expenditures for salaries, benefits, support staff, and office expenses, related directly or indirectly to lobbying, a statement of the total aggregate expenses for salaries, support staff, and office expenses related directly or indirectly to lobbying shall satisfy the requirement that an itemized statement of these expenses be filed.

[(h)] (g) The following statement followed by a line for each person filing the form to sign and date the form: “I have read RSA 15[, RSA 15-B, and RSA 664] and hereby swear or affirm that the foregoing information is true and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief.” [This statement shall be made under oath before a notary public or justice of the peace.]

5 Gifts; Exclusion From Definition. Amend RSA 15-B:2, V(b)(5) and (6) to read as follows:

(5) Objects or services which primarily serve an informational purpose provided in the ordinary course of business, such as reports, books, maps, or charts.

(6) Money in any form, an object, or an intangible thing or service of economic value, where the donor’s act of giving is purely private and personal in nature and the money, object, or intangible thing or service of economic value would have been given and received even if the person were not an elected official, public official, public employee, constitutional official, or legislative employee.

6 New Subparagraph; Definition of Gift; Exclusion Added. Amend RSA 15-B:2, V(b) by inserting after subparagraph (12) the following new subparagraph:

(13) Information or advice concerning any state law or rule, any legislation pending or proposed before the general court, or any pending or proposed administrative rule.

7 Purpose; Financial Disclosure. The general court finds that many public spirited citizens perform volunteer service for the state each year under circumstances where their service does not create any appreciable opportunity to influence the setting of public policy, the expenditure of state funds, or the selection of vendors for the state. Recognizing that the purpose of financial disclosure is to ensure the public has access to information about the financial interests of those who act on the public's behalf when setting public policy, spending state funds, or choosing vendors to do work for the state, requiring volunteers who do not perform such actions to file statements of financial interests does not advance the purpose of the statute and may chill volunteerism. The general court intends to exempt from financial disclosure requirements those individuals who serve the state solely in a volunteer capacity and whose service does not afford any appreciable opportunity to influence public policy or spending, including but not limited to individuals who assist with search and rescue, teach hunter safety, work on recreational trails, or assist with the annual Easter egg hunt.

8 Financial Disclosure; Filing. Amend RSA 15-A:3 to read as follows:

15-A:3 Persons Required to File.

I. The following persons shall file a statement of financial interests as required by this chapter:

[I.] (a) All candidates who file for state or county office.

[II.] (b) All persons filing an acceptance of nomination form for state or county office.

[III.] (c) Every person appointed by the governor, governor and council, president of the senate, or the speaker of the house of representatives to any board, commission, committee, board of directors, authority, or equivalent state entity whether regulatory, advisory, or administrative in nature.

[IV.] (d) All agency heads.

[V.] (e) Any public official designated, due to the responsibilities of the position, by the agency head.

[VI.] (f) The secretary of state and the treasurer, and any of their subordinates designated, due to the responsibilities of the position, by the secretary of state or treasurer.

[VII.] (g) All persons elected to state or county office, and all persons appointed to such elective office to fill a vacancy[; and].

[VIII.] (h) Any person, not employed by or working under contract for the state, who is acting on behalf of the governor or an agency while engaged in state business.

II.(a) Any person who is otherwise subject to the filing requirements of paragraph I (h) shall be exempt from filing a statement of financial interests provided the head of the executive branch entity for whom the individual is volunteering certifies in a public register of volunteers, to be maintained by the secretary of state, that the volunteer's work for the state:

(1) Does not directly or indirectly influence the setting of public policy;

(2) Does not directly or indirectly influence decisions on how state funds will be expended; and

(3) Does not directly or indirectly influence the selection of vendors for the state.

(b) The secretary of state shall establish a public register of volunteers for the state that shall include the name and town or city of residence of the volunteer and the executive branch entity for whom the volunteer work is done. The name and residence of exempt volunteers shall not be listed for volunteers who provide service occurring at a single event that does not exceed one day in duration, provided the head of the executive branch entity accepting the volunteer service submits a brief description of the event and an estimate of the number of volunteers to the secretary of state for inclusion in the register.

(c) The head of any executive branch entity that accepts volunteer work shall cause a list of volunteers who qualify for this exemption to be certified to the secretary of state. An annual certification shall be submitted not later than the last Wednesday in January listing all exempt volunteers who are expected to volunteer during that calendar year. A certification shall be submitted no later than the last Wednesday of each month certifying all new exempt volunteers who started service with that entity during the previous month.

III. The filing of a financial disclosure form by an elected member of the house of representatives or senate pursuant to the guidelines enforced by the legislative ethics committee under RSA 14-B, shall satisfy the requirement for filing of a statement of financial interest pursuant to this chapter.

9 New Paragraph; Legislative Ethics; Filing of Forms. Amend RSA 14-B:3 by inserting after paragraph III the following new paragraph:

IV. The committee shall review all financial disclosure forms required by ethics guidelines and shall place the completed forms on file in the office of the secretary of state for purposes of the requirements of RSA 15-A, in accordance with the filing deadline established under this chapter.

10 Executive Branch Ethics Committee; Appointments. Amend RSA 21-G:29, VI to read as follows:

VI. Committee members shall serve terms of 3 years and until their successors are appointed and qualified. However, initially, the governor shall nominate one member for a one-year term, one member for a 2-year term and one member for a 3-year term; the secretary of state shall nominate one member for a 2-year term, and one member for a 3-year term; the treasurer shall nominate one member for a one-year term and one member for a 2-year term. Initial nominations to the committee shall be made no later than 90 days after the effective date of this section. The initial appointments shall begin on July 1, 2006 and end on June 30 of the appropriate year. Vacancies shall be filled for the remainder of any unexpired term. During their term of appointment, members may not hold or campaign for elective office, serve as an officer of any political party or political committee, permit their names to be used in support of or in opposition to any state or county candidate or proposition, participate in any way in any state or county election campaign, make a contribution as defined in RSA 664:2 to any state or county candidate for office or political committee, or act as or assist a lobbyist required to be registered under RSA 15:1.

11 Executive Branch Volunteer List. Each head of an executive branch entity that accepts volunteer work shall cause a list of volunteers providing service to the state on the effective date of this act who qualify for the exemption set forth in RSA 15-A:3, II to be submitted to the secretary of state within 60 days of the effective date of this act.

12 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

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