Lobbying in Texas: Rules and Laws
This document is online at the TEC website. It is posted here as a public service for lobbyists in Texas, Texas Government Consultants, Texas Politics, and any interested parties.
DETERMINING WHETHER LOBBY REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED
Lobby registration is required if a person meets either one of two thresholds: the “compensation and reimbursement threshold” or the “expenditure threshold.” A “person” required to register may be a corporation, partnership, association, or other type of business entity as well as an individual. See Entity Registration.
COMPENSATION AND REIMBURSEMENT THRESHOLD
Under current Ethics Commission rules, a person who receives, or is entitled to receive under an agreement under which the person is retained or employed, more than $1,000 in a calendar quarter as compensation or reimbursement to lobby must register as a lobbyist. 1 T.A.C. § 34.43. (Compensation and reimbursement must be added together to determine whether registration is required. Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 103 (1992).) Compensation for certain communications, however, does not count toward the compensation threshold even though the communications may be intended to influence legislation or administrative action. See EXCEPTIONS FROM REQUIRED REGISTRATION, in this guide. Also, a person who crosses the compensation threshold is not required to register if lobby activity constitutes no more than five percent of the person’s compensated time during a calendar quarter. See EXCEPTIONS FROM REQUIRED REGISTRATION, Incidental Lobbying.
Compensation to Prepare for Lobbying. Compensation received for preparing lobby communications (for example, compensation attributable to strategy sessions, review and analysis of legislation or administrative matters, research, or communication with a client concerning lobbying strategy) is counted toward the compensation threshold. 1 T.A. C. § 34.3. If a person engages in preparatory activities, but does not actually communicate to influence legislation or administrative action, registration is not required. Id. A person employed by a lobbyist (or a person employed by the lobbyist’s employer who works under the lobbyist’s direction) to assist the lobbyist in nonclerical lobby activities must be listed as an assistant on the lobbyist’s registration. See Reporting Assistants.
Reimbursement for Personal Expenses. Reimbursement that a person receives for the person’s own transportation, food and beverage, or lodging is not included for purposes of calculating the compensation and reimbursement threshold.
Reimbursed Office Expenses. Reimbursement for the following office expenses is not included in calculating the compensation threshold and does not have to be reported as compensation or reimbursement received for lobbying:
- long distance telephone charges;
- delivery charges;
- photocopy expenses;
- facsimile expenses;
- office supplies;
- postage; and
- dues and subscriptions.
1 T.A.C. § 34.7.
Allocating Compensation for Services Other Than Lobbying. A lobbyist who receives compensation or reimbursement for both lobbying and non-lobbying services is required to make a reasonable allocation of the compensation or reimbursement for lobbying. Only the compensation or reimbursement attributable to lobbying counts toward the compensation threshold and is reported as compensation. 1 T.A.C. § 34.43(c).
A person who expends more than $500 in a calendar quarter for certain purposes must register as a lobbyist.
What is a Lobby Expenditure? The expenditures that count toward the expenditure threshold are expenditures that benefit a state officer or employee or the immediate family of a state officer or employee, that are made to communicate with a state officer or employee to influence legislation or administrative action, and that fall into one of the following six categories:
- transportation and lodging;
- food and beverages;
- awards and mementos;
- the attendance of a state officer or employee at a political fundraiser or charity event.
An “expenditure” is “a payment, distribution, loan, advance, reimbursement, deposit, or gift of money or any thing of value and includes a contract, promise, or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable, to make an expenditure.” Gov’t Code § 305.002(5).
Lobby Expenditure Made on Behalf of Another Person. Beginning on September 1, 2007, if a registrant, or a person on the registrant’s behalf and with the registrant’s consent or ratification, joins with another person to make an expenditure described by the lobby law, the amount of the expenditure made by or on behalf of the registrant for purposes of the lobby law includes only (1) the amount of the portion of the joint expenditure contributed by the registrant and (2) the amount of any portion of the joint expenditure that: is made on behalf of the registrant by a person who is not a registrant; and is not otherwise reported under the lobby law. Gov’t Code § 305.0021.