An impasse in collective negotiations between certain municipal employees and their public employer resulted in utilization of Section 209 of the Civil Service Law (Taylor Law). Pursuant to Section 209(3)e, the Governor submitted the fact-finding board's findings of fact and recommendations together with his recommendations to the Legislature which resulted in the Legislature appointing a six-member legislative committee. That committee shall conduct public hearings and take such action as it deems to be in the interest of the public and the public employees. The inquirer states that "it is anticipated that the committee will issue a report...recommending to the Legislature proposals for resolution of the dispute and may also recommend passage of enabling legislation to implement the report."
1) Does an appearance before the legislative committee by any person, firm, corporation, or association retained, employed, or designated by any party to the proceeding in a capacity as a witness or otherwise, bring that person, firm, corporation, or association within the definition of a "lobbyist" under Section 3(a) of the Regulation of Lobbying Act?
2) Does an appearance or submission of materials by a law firm representing the municipal employees before the legislative committee constitute "Lobbying" under Section 3(b) of the Regulation of Lobbying Act?
Section 3(a) of the Regulation of Lobbying Act (the Act), in part, defines a "lobbyist" as "every person...who, on behalf of any person...attempts to influence the passage or defeat of any legislation by either house of the legislature..." (Emphasis added).
In defining "lobbying" or "lobbying activity", Section 3(b) of the Act restates significant parts of Section 3(a). The pertinent language of these two sections is "attempts to influence".
The inquirer states, it anticipates that the legislative committee may recommend passage of enabling legislation. The law firm's (members or employees) appearance before or submission of material to the legislative committee is a direct attempt to influence members of the legislature to recommend new legislation. Accordingly, the law firm's appearance or submission of material is "lobbying activity" under the Act and the law firm is required to register and report to the Commission if it otherwise qualifies.
An appearance of a witness before a legislative committee on behalf of another is more than a "mere appearance". Such witness is not "merely appearing" in his/her own behalf, but is engaged in activities on behalf of another and therefore is otherwise engaged in lobbying activity that is attempting to influence. (See Section 12(a) 4 of the Act; Commission Guidelines, Section VIII, 4; Advisory Opinion #23.) The Commission, at its June 11, 1980 meeting, held that a "petitioner's witness in a Public Service Commission rate case proceeding is a lobbyist under the Act and must register and report if they otherwise qualify". Accordingly, one who appears as a witness on behalf of another before a legislative committee is attempting to influence and is a lobbyist under the Act. Such witness would be required to register and report to the Commission if he/she otherwise qualifies.
Submission of materials or an appearance by a law firm on behalf of municipal employees, before a legislative committee created under the Taylor Law, is "lobbying activity" under the Act.
A witness appearing on behalf of another, before a legislative committee created under the Taylor Law, is a "lobbyist" under the Act.
APPROVED BY COMMISSION: SEPTEMBER 3, 1980
CONCURRING: CHAIRMAN S. STANLEY KREUTZER, VICE CHAIRMAN HARVEY M. LIFSET, GAIL HELLENBRAND, AND WALTER J. MAHONEY./S/