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City Council to Consider Changes to Santa Monica's Lobbying Regulations  

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By Jorge Casuso

April 13, 2017 -- The City Council on Tuesday will consider amending its regulations for lobbyists to clarify which City officials are covered by the ordinance approved last year and tweak some of the registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists.

Among the changes proposed by staff are easing the filing requirements for representatives of employee unions and requiring those paid to speak frequently on behalf of neighborhood organizations to register as lobbyists, City officials said..

The ordinance, which went into effect last September, requires lobbyists to register with the City Clerk's Office, list their clients and report payments and compensations made to City officials ("Santa Monica City Officials Approve Lobbyists Regulations," March 3, 2016).

"The overall goal was to do a clean-up and use best practices to better execute" the ordinance, said City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren.

Since going into effect, 46 lobbyists have registered and 52 amendments to those registrations have been made when a new client is represented, according to staff. (For a list of registered lobbyists click here).

One key change would "address continual, generic lobbying such as that done by neighborhood groups or the Chamber of Commerce" by requiring paid representatives to register, staff wrote in its report to the City Council.

Staff recommends that "general terms such as 'outreach and promotion of interests of members' may be used to describe lobbying activity."

Another key change would ease registration requirements for "persons whose communications relate solely to a memorandum of understanding or collective bargaining agreement between the City and an employee organization."

Lobbyists who fall under that category would be exempt from having to file an amendment to their registration forms within ten days of representation of a new client or an addendum to change "the information required to be disclosed on the form related to existing clients," staff said.

Employee union representatives also would be exempt from having to report the names of all officials contacted about a governmental decision prior to any public hearing on that decision

Proposed changes to the ordinance also include narrowing the definition of "official," which currently includes City Council members, department heads and citizens and City employees appointed by the Council to serve on boards and commissions.

Under the proposed change, the term "official" would apply only to members of the Planning Commission, Architectural Review Board, Landmarks Commission and Personnel Board, while City employees appointed by the Council would only include the City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk.

The term "official" also would include "any City employee who is required to file a Statement of Economic Interest."

In addition, the proposed changes require lobbyist firms to list each individual lobbyist.

It costs $40 to register as a lobbyist and $25 for amendments and renewals. The fees are being reviewed as part of the Citywide Cost of Services Study and will be updated for the upcoming fiscal year, staff said.

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