The director of State/local government relations for a corporation has the responsibility "to remain aware of proposed legislative and regulatory activity which could impact the corporation's business". He, and certain other officers of the corporation, also monitor "relevant New York State activity".
Does monitoring (remaining aware of) proposed legislative, regulatory, and other relevant activity of the State of New York by officers and employees of a corporation constitute lobbying activity under Sections 3(a) and 3(b) of the Regulation of Lobbying Act?
Section 3(a) of the Lobbying Act states:
The term "lobbyist" shall mean and include every person, firm, corporation, or association retained, employed, or designated by any person, firm, corporation, or association, or by any public corporation, who, on behalf of such entity and pursuant to such retainer, employment, or designation attempts to influence the passage or defeat of any legislation by either house of the legislature or the approval or disapproval of any legislation by the governor, or the adoption or rejection of any rule or regulation having the force and effect of law or the outcome of any rate-making proceeding by a state agency. (Emphasis added).
Section 3(b) restates significant parts of Section 3(a).
For purposes of this opinion, the pertinent language of these sections reads: "attempts to influence the passage or defeat" of any legislation or certain other governmental decision making. Simply monitoring or remaining aware of activity of the State relevant to the interests of the corporation, without using any information gained thereby to attempt to influence the outcome of decisions by the State on proposed legislation, rules, regulations, or rates, could not be considered lobbying activity under the Act.
However, if the corporation or a person, firm, or association otherwise engages in attempts to influence the outcome of those governmental decisions listed in Section 3(a) of the Act and otherwise qualifies as a lobbyist under the Act, such monitoring activity could be considered as part of a total lobbying effort. The cost of such monitoring would therefore have to be reflected in reports required under the Lobbying Act.
Unless monitoring (remaining aware of) governmental decision-making activities covered by the Regulation of Lobbying Act is part of lobbying activity which qualifies under the Act, it would not be subject to the provisions of the Act. Monitoring activities alone cannot be considered "attempting to influence" the outcome of governmental decision-making.
APPROVED BY COMMISSION: APRIL 25, 1979
CONCURRING: CHAIRMAN MARGARET C. ANDRONACO, VICE CHAIRMAN D. CLINTON DOMINICK, FRANCES FOX, GAIL HELLENBRAND, and S. STANLEY KREUTZER./S/