1999 Montana Legislature

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     Section 1.  Section 5-7-102, MCA, is amended to read:

     "5-7-102.  Definitions. The Subject to [section 3], the following definitions apply in this chapter:

     (1)  "Business" means:

     (a)  a holding or interest whose fair market value is greater than $1,000, in a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, self-employed person, holding company, joint-stock company, receivership, trust, or other entity or property held in anticipation of profit, but does not include nonprofit organizations; and

     (b)  present or past employment from which benefits, including retirement allowances, are received.

     (2)  "Commissioner" means the commissioner of political practices.

     (3)  "Docket" means the register of lobbyists and principals maintained by the commissioner pursuant to 5-7-201.

     (4)  "Elected official" means a public official holding a state office filled by a statewide vote of all the electors of Montana or a state district office, including but not limited to legislators, public service commissioners, and district court judges. The term "official-elect" also applies to the offices.

     (5)  "Individual" means a human being.

     (6)  "Lobbying" means:

     (a)  the practice of promoting or opposing the introduction or enactment of legislation before the legislature or the members of the legislature by a person other than a member of the legislature or a public official; and

     (b)  the practice of promoting or opposing official action by any public official.

     (7)  "Lobbying for hire" includes activities of the officers, agents, attorneys, or employees of a principal who are paid, reimbursed, or retained by the principal and whose duties include lobbying. If an individual is reimbursed only for his the individual's personal living and travel expenses, which together are less than $1,000 per calendar year, that individual is not considered to be lobbying for hire.

     (8)  (a) "Lobbyist" means a person who engages in the practice of lobbying for hire.

     (b)  Lobbyist does not include:

     (i)  an individual acting solely on his the individual's own behalf; or

     (ii) an individual working for the same principal as a licensed lobbyist if the individual does not have personal contact involving lobbying with a public official on behalf of his the individual's principal.

     (c)  Nothing in this section deprives This section does not deprive an individual who is not lobbying for hire of the constitutional right to communicate with public officials.

     (9)  "Payment" means distribution, transfer, loan, advance, deposit, gift, or other rendering made or to be made of money, property, or anything of value.

     (10) "Payment to influence official action" means any of the following types of payment:

     (a)  direct or indirect payment to a lobbyist by a principal, such as salary, fee, compensation, or reimbursement for expenses, excluding personal living expenses; or

     (b)  payment in support of or assistance to a lobbyist or a lobbying activity, including but not limited to the direct payment of expenses incurred at the request or suggestion of the lobbyist.

     (11) "Person" means an individual, corporation, association, firm, partnership, state or local government or subdivision of state or local government, or other organization or group of persons.

     (12) "Principal" means a person who employs a lobbyist.

     (13) "Public official" means an individual, elected or appointed, acting in his an official capacity for the state government. The term does not include those acting in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity or performing ministerial acts.

     (14) "Unprofessional conduct" means:

     (a)  violating any of the provisions of this chapter;

     (b)  instigating action by a public official for the purpose of obtaining employment;

     (c)  attempting to influence the action of a public official on a measure pending or to be proposed by:

     (i)  promising financial support; or

     (ii) making public any unsubstantiated charges of improper conduct on the part of a lobbyist, a principal, or a legislator; or

     (d)  attempting to knowingly deceive a public official with regard to the pertinent facts of an official matter or attempting to knowingly misrepresent pertinent facts of an official matter to a public official."

     Section 2.  Section 5-7-103, MCA, is amended to read:

     "5-7-103.  Licenses -- fees -- eligibility -- waiver. (1) Any Except as provided in [section 4], any adult of good moral character who is otherwise qualified under this chapter may be licensed as a lobbyist. The commissioner shall provide a license application form. The application form may be obtained from and must be filed in the office of the commissioner. Upon approval of the application and receipt of the license fee by the commissioner, a license must be issued that entitles the licensee to practice lobbying on behalf of one or more enumerated principals. The license fee is $50 for each lobbyist. Each license expires on December 31 of each even-numbered year or may be terminated at the request of the lobbyist. A lobbyist who believes that payment of the license fee may constitute a hardship may apply to the commissioner for a waiver of the fee required by this section. The commissioner may waive the license fee upon proof by the lobbyist that payment of the fee constitutes a hardship.

     (2)  (a) Except as provided in subsection (2)(b), an application may not be disapproved without affording the applicant a hearing. The hearing must be held and the decision entered within 10 days of the date of the filing of the application.

     (b)  An application may not be approved if a principal has failed to file reports required under 5-7-208.

     (3)  The fines and license fees collected under this chapter must be deposited in the state treasury.

     (4)  The commissioner may adopt rules to implement the waiver provisions of subsection (1)."

     NEW SECTION.  Section 3.  Definitions. The following definitions supplement the definitions provided in 5-7-102 and apply to [sections 4 and 5] and this section:

     (1) "Government employee" means an employee of a government entity, including an individual holding an elective state or local office not in the judicial or legislative branch of government.

     (2) "Government entity" includes a state agency and a local government entity.

     (3) "Lobbying" has the same meaning as provided in 5-7-102(6)(a).

     (4) "Lobbying for hire" means lobbying on behalf of a government entity in exchange for:

     (a) compensation in money;

     (b) reimbursement for living or travel expenses, or both; or

     (c) both compensation and reimbursement as provided in subsections (4)(a) and (4)(b).

     (5) "Local government entity" means a county, city, town, school district, or special taxing district.

     (6) "State agency" means a department, division, office, bureau, commission, board, or other entity of state government, including the Montana university system.

     NEW SECTION.  Section 4.  Governmental employee prohibited from lobbying -- exceptions -- penalty. (1) A government employee may not engage in lobbying for hire.

     (2) A government employee may not use state time, equipment, supplies, or facilities for the purposes of lobbying.

     (3) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to:

     (a) lobbying for hire when specifically required by state or federal law;

     (b) a government employee who engages in lobbying on the employee's own behalf or on behalf of a government entity while in a leave status as authorized by law;

     (c) a member or staff member of the legislature or the judiciary; or

     (d) written or oral testimony given before a committee or other body of the legislature at the request of a member or committee of the legislature.

     (4) A government employee who violates subsection (1) or (2) is subject to disciplinary action by the governmental entity, including verbal or written reprimand, reduction in position or pay, dismissal from employment, or any combination of the sanctions in this subsection.

     NEW SECTION.  Section 5.  Government entity not to belong or pay dues to certain organizations -- legislative auditor to include subject in audit. (1) A government entity may not belong to, pay dues or other membership fees to, or pay the dues or other membership fee of an individual who belongs to an association, club, fraternal society, or other organization that:

     (a) engages in lobbying;

     (b) supports or opposes a candidate as defined in 13-1-101;

     (c) supports or opposes a ballot measure provided for in Title 13, chapter 27; or

     (d) participates in litigation of statutes or ballot measures provided for in Title 13, chapter 27, as a party to the litigation or as a contributor of money or other support to a person who is a party to the litigation. This subsection (1)(d) does not apply to litigation brought directly by or against a government entity.

     (2) The legislative auditor, for the purpose of audits performed on state agencies, and the department of commerce, for the purpose of audits performed by the department or the department's contractor on local government entities, shall include in their audits a review of actions taken or payments made by a government entity that may disclose a violation of [section 4] or this section. Evidence of a violation found by the legislative auditor must be provided to the legislative audit committee. Evidence of a violation by a local government entity found by the department of commerce or its contractor must be provided to the governing body of the local government entity.

     NEW SECTION.  Section 6.  Codification instruction. [Sections 3 through 5] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 5, chapter 7, part 3, and the provisions of Title 5, chapter 7, part 3, apply to [sections 3 through 5].

     NEW SECTION.  Section 7.  Severability. If a part of [this act] is invalid, all valid parts that are severable from the invalid part remain in effect. If a part of [this act] is invalid in one or more of its applications, the part remains in effect in all valid applications that are severable from the invalid applications.

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Latest Version of HB 535 (HB0535.01)
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