Blurb about why Forefront rocks, caption for photo

Effective January 1, 2022, Illinois made important changes to The Lobbyist Registration Act that are summarized below. The most important and substantive changes relate to the rules about lobbying local governments. We encourage all nonprofits statewide, regardless of whether you’ve registered as a lobbyist in the past, to review and discuss the impact of these changes on your organization, including with legal counsel if applicable. Forefront will continue to update stakeholders on this issue, particularly as related administrative rules are promulgated.

Forefront hosted a webinar on February 10 covering the changes to Illinois lobbying laws. See the slides from that meeting and a summary of content addressed. We strongly encourage anyone with questions about how these rules apply to contact the Secretary of State’s office at elobbyist@ilsos.gov.

 

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 State and Local Government Lobbying

 

Persons Required to Register

SB539 did not change the existing rule that “any natural person who, for compensation or otherwise, undertakes to lobby, or any person or entity who employs or compensates another person for the purposes of lobbying, shall register with the Secretary of State.” Thus, individuals (and their employer) that meet the definition of “lobbyist” or “lobbying entity” because they “lobby” a “covered” state or local official must register with the Secretary of State every year, even if lobbying is a small portion of their job. (Review the definitions for these and other key terms in the chart below.) Annual registration, which includes a simple, online basic ethics and sexual harassment training module, must occur before any lobbying occurs and within two business days after the lobbyist is employed or retained. There is no grace period for registration or training.

Persons NOT Required to Register

There are several exemptions to lobbyist registration provided in the Illinois Administrative Code. These exemptions may be clarified or updated in response to SB539; as of this writing, there are no changes to exemption rules for 2022. Forefront will track proposed changes and provide updates as needed. Send questions to eLobbyist@ilsos.gov.

State Lobbying: New “Covered” Officials and Agencies

SB539 added the Deputy Governor, the Deputy Secretary of State, the Deputy Attorney General, the Deputy Treasurer, and the Deputy Comptroller to the list of covered state officials. Since these additions may impact many nonprofits that communicate regularly with these officials but who may not have previously registered as lobbyists, we’ve requested examples from the IL SOS of what does and does not constitute lobbying under these new terms. See definitions table below.

Local Government Lobbying: New “Covered” Officials and Registration/Reporting Requirements 

SB539 expanded the state’s lobbying rules to require IL SOS registration for lobbying local governments, excluding the City of Chicago (see below). The definition of covered local “officials” now includes:

This is an important change for downstate stakeholders. Even if you do not lobby the State government, if you lobby at the local level, you must now register as a lobbyist with the State. Since many nonprofits communicate regularly with their local, township, and county governments (e.g., regarding joint programming and grant contracts), we’ve requested examples from the IL SOS of what does and does not constitute lobbying when communicating with local officials for purposes such as these. See definitions table below.

 

 City of Chicago Lobbying

 

SB539 amended the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act and the Lobbyist Registration Act while granting a unique exception to municipalities with a population over 500,000. Thus, Chicago may continue to regulate lobbyists lobbying the City of Chicago, while the revised state rules supersede all other existing local government laws and ordinances. There are no substantive changes to the requirements or processes enforced in Chicago pursuant to SB539. Additionally, as stated in this 9/2/21 memo from the Board of Ethics, Chicago’s own unique rules related to nonprofit lobbying registration and related penalties, which went into effect in 2019, are currently not being enforced, though the Board of Ethics encourages registration by persons paid to lobby the City. For examples about what does and does not constitute lobbying according to the City, see opinions 19037.A.1-3, 20003.A, and 20009.A on the list of Advisory Opinions. Please note the following if you lobby the City of Chicago:

 Grassroots Lobbying

 

While the term “grassroots lobbying” itself does not appear in the text of SB539, the act expands the definition of lobbying to include “soliciting of others to communicate” with the ultimate purpose of influencing executive, legislative, or administrative action at the state, municipal, county, or township level. However, the definition of “soliciting others to communicate” specifically exempts “the making of a grant” by a 501(c)3 as well as “communication … to the public or a segment thereof or to its members….” by a 501(c)3 or 501(c)6. 501(c)4s are not exempted from any of these provisions and are therefore subject to the new requirements. The IL SOS confirmed this interpretation.

 Use of Consultants

 

SB539 added consultant compensation to the definition of reportable compensation under the Lobbyist Registration Act (see definitions chart). Thus, nonprofit organizations that retain a consultant(s) may need to disclose the consultant’s services and expenditures on IL SOS lobbying reports within two days of retaining the consultant. The lobbying entity must identify whether the consultant provides services for administrative, executive, and legislative branch agencies. A consultant is not required to register as a lobbyist for providing advisory services. However, if in the course of providing services as a consultant, the consultant makes a lobbying contact with a covered official, or makes an item of expenditure on behalf of or benefiting a covered official, the consultant will be required to register as a lobbyist. Reportable expenses include expenses by an employee of the consultant if applicable. Consultants should report expenses to the lobbying entity for inclusion in the lobbying entity’s semi-monthly expenditure report to the state.

 Guide: Where to Register

May be subject to change via administrative rule. Forefront will update this chart as needed.

Lobbying Entity and Type of Lobbying Audience Register with Illinois Secretary of State Register with City of Chicago Board of Ethics
Organizations located in City of Chicago that ONLY lobby the City of Chicago Not required Required
Organizations located in City of Chicago that lobby State Officials or other local officials outside the City of Chicago Required Not required
Organizations located in City of Chicago that lobby the City of Chicago AND State Officials Required Required
Organizations outside of the City of Chicago that ONLY lobby the City of Chicago and no other entities Not required Required
Organizations outside the City of Chicago that lobby State Officials or other local officials outside the City of Chicago Required Not required

 Key Definitions

 

Term Previous Definition New Definition Effective 1/1/22
(Bold text is new)
Lobby/ing Any communication with an official of the executive or legislative branch of State government for the ultimate purpose of influencing any executive, legislative, or administrative action To communicate, including the soliciting of others to communicate, with an official for the ultimate purpose of influencing any executive, legislative, or administrative action at the State, municipal, county, or township government level. Soliciting of others to communicate shall not include the making of a grant by a 501(c)3 or communication by a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(5) to the public or a segment thereof or to its members to communicate with legislators, executives, or administrators with respect to a proposed action by the legislature, executive, or administrator
Influencing Any communication, action, reportable expenditure or other means used to promote, support, affect, modify, oppose or delay any executive, legislative or administrative action or to promote goodwill with officials No change
Executive Action* The proposal, drafting, development, consideration, amendment, adoption, approval, promulgation, issuance, modification, rejection or postponement by a State entity of a rule, regulation, order, decision, determination, contractual arrangement, purchasing agreement or other quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial action or proceeding. The proposal, drafting, development, consideration, amendment, adoption, approval, promulgation, issuance, modification, rejection or postponement by a State, municipal, county, or township government* entity of a rule, regulation, order, decision, determination, contractual arrangement, purchasing agreement or other quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial action or proceeding.
*Similarly, the bill also added “municipal, county, or township” to the levels of government included in the definitions of administrative action, lobbyist, lobbying entity, and client.
Legislative Action The development, drafting, introduction, consideration, modification, adoption, rejection, review, enactment, or passage or defeat of any bill, amendment, resolution, report, nomination, administrative rule or other matter by either house of the General Assembly or a committee thereof or by a legislator. Legislative action also means the action of the Governor in approving or vetoing any bill or portion thereof, and the action of the Governor or any agency in the development of a proposal for introduction in the legislature The development, drafting, introduction, consideration, modification, adoption, rejection, review, enactment, or passage or defeat of any bill, amendment, resolution, ordinance, report, nomination, administrative rule or other matter by either house of the General Assembly or a committee thereof, or by a legislator, by the legislative body of a municipality, county, or township, or by an alderman, trustee, or township board member. Legislative action also means the action of the Governor, mayor, or village or township board president, or county executive in approving or vetoing any bill, ordinance, or resolution or portion thereof, and the action of such officials or any agency under their jurisdiction in the development of a legislative proposal.
Consultant Not previously defined Any person or entity who, for compensation, provides advisory services, including but not limited to, rendering opinions on or developing strategies for lobbying or influencing, to a lobbyist or lobbying entity for the ultimate purpose of influencing any executive, legislative, or administrative action. “Consultant” excludes registered lobbyists, employees of a lobbying entity, and attorneys providing legal services such as drafting legislation or writing opinions about the impact of proposals or legislation.
Covered Officials 1) The Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, and State Comptroller; 2) Chiefs of Staff described in item 1; 3) Cabinet members of any elected constitutional officer, including Directors, Assistant Directors and Chief Legal Counsel or General Counsel; 4) Members of the General Assembly; and 5) Members of any board, commission, authority, or task force of the State authorized or created by State law or by executive order of the Governor. 1) The Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, and State Comptroller; 2) Chiefs of Staff described in item 1, the Deputy Governor, the Deputy Secretary of State, the Deputy Attorney General, the Deputy Treasurer, and the Deputy Comptroller; 3) Cabinet members of any elected constitutional officer, including Directors, Assistant Directors and Chief Legal Counsel or General Counsel; 4) Members of the General Assembly; 5) Members of any board, commission, authority, or task force of the State authorized or created by State law or by executive order of the Governor; 6) Mayors, presidents, aldermen, commissioners, and trustees of a city, village, or town; 7) County board memb ers and countywide elected officials; 8) Township board members and township elected officials; and 9) Members of any board, commission, authority, or task force created by a local ordinance or order of a mayor orn village or town president.
Compensation Any money, thing of value or financial benefits received or to be received in return for services rendered or to be rendered, for lobbying as defined above Any money, thing of value or financial benefits received or to be received in return for services rendered or to be rendered, for lobbying or as a consultant
Lobbyist Any natural person who undertakes to lobby State government Any natural person who undertakes to lobby State, municipal, county, or township government
Lobbying Entity Any entity that hires, retains, employs, or compensates a natural person to lobby State government Any entity that hires, retains, employs, or compensates a natural person to lobby State, municipal, county, or township government
Expenditure A payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value, and includes a contract, promise, or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable, to make an expenditure, for the ultimate purpose of influencing executive, legislative, or administrative action, other than compensation as defined above No changes
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