A broadening definition of those people covered under Indiana’s ethics law is one of many changes that will take effect over the next two years. The new law – House Enrolled Act 1001, Government Ethics – is considered to be the most comprehensive ethics reform in Indiana history and impacts lawmakers, the Governor’s office and lobbyists.

Beginning Nov. 1, 2010, the term “legislative official” will be replaced by “legislative person” and will be broadened to include Indiana General Assembly (IGA) candidates, agencies and officers, as well as immediate family members of IGA members, candidates, officers or employees. Previously, the law only covered IGA members, employees, agencies and paid consultants.

The new law also redefines the terms “lobbying” and “lobbyists.” “Lobbying” now means communicating by any means, or paying others to communicate by any means, with any legislative person with the purpose of influencing legislative action. A “lobbyist” continues to mean any person who engages in lobbying and in any registration year receives or expends an aggregate of at least $500 in compensation or reportable expenditures, where the compensation or expenditure is solely for lobbying or the lobbying is incidental to that individual’s regular employment. However, HEA 1001 clarifies that the following are not considered lobbyists:

  • A public employee or public official;
  • The National Conference of State Legislatures;
  • The National Conference of Insurance Legislators;
  • The American Legislative Exchange Council;
  • Women in Government;
  • The Council of State Governments;
  • The National Black Caucus of State Legislators;
  • Any other national organization established for the education and support of legislative leadership, legislators, legislative staff, or related government employees.

The new law also increases the Lobby Registration Commission’s late registration fee from $10 per day to not more than $100 per day for each day a lobby registration statement is filed late. The late registration fee shall not exceed $4,500, a significant increase from the $100 maximum amount imposed under current law.

Reporting requirements have also changed. The new provisions require a lobbyist to report all gifts made to a legislative person. The lobbyist must file a copy of the report within 15 days of making the gift with the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission, the legislative person who received the gift, and the Principal Clerk of the House of Representatives or Secretary of the Senate. The Indiana Lobby Registration Commission is required to annually provide each member and candidate a written compilation of all gift reports filed with the Commission.

A lobbyist may not make a gift with a value of $50 or more to a legislative person unless the lobbyist receives the consent of the legislative person before the gift is made. The lobbyist must inform the legislative person of the cost of the gift at the time the lobbyist seeks the consent of the legislative person.

The bill reduces the reporting threshold for entertainment (including meals and drink) or a gift to $50 or more in a day. Further, the bill reduces the annual reporting threshold for expenditures for entertainment (including meals and drink) or gifts to $250.

Additionally, if a lobbyist makes a purchase in excess of $100 from a legislative person that is outside the scope of that legislative person’s ordinary course of business, it must be reported within 15 days to the same offices. Expenditures or gifts in which the legislative person paid the same for the services or property that anyone else would have to pay in the ordinary course of business do not have to be reported.

The bill adds a new chapter to the statute which defines a legislative liaison as an employee of a state educational institution or a state agency that is designated by the employer and who receives at least 10 percent of the individual’s annual compensation to engage in lobbying. An employer is required to annually file a single, aggregate report of expenditures for lobbying activities by each of the employer’s legislative liaisons. The report must state expenditures for entertainment (including meals and drink) or gifts per legislative person that total $50 or more in a day or together more than $250 during the calendar year if the expenditures would be reportable by a registered lobbyist.

Effective upon passage, a member of the General Assembly after Dec. 31, 2011 may not be registered as a lobbyist or employed as a legislative liaison for one year from the date the individual ceases to be a member of the General Assembly. For an individual who is a candidate for nomination for election to the General Assembly in 2010 or a member of the General Assembly on Nov. 3, 2010, the individual may not be registered as a lobbyist or employed as a legislative liaison before June 1, 2011.