Resources:Basics of NYS Government
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A lobbyist is a person or group who spends money in an attempt to influence either state or local governmental decision-making. Lobbying is a form of interaction between elected officials and members of the public, and this can be an important component of an accountable and responsive government. Accountability may be hindered, however, if some parties are allowed to gain disproportionate access and influence by exploiting the connections they have made through lobbying.
New York State’s lobbying law was not enacted to limit or prohibit lobbying, but rather to ensure that efforts to influence policy are undertaken openly and accountably, and to limit the opportunities for unscrupulous lobbyists to unfairly influence government action.
The activities covered by the Lobbying Act include any attempt to influence state or local legislation, executive orders, rules or regulations, ratemaking proceedings, and determinations related to government procurement or tribal-state compacts or memoranda of understanding.
Under New York law, lobbyists and their clients (the entities that hire them) who spend or are paid more than $5,000 per year to influence government, must register with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics commission and disclose information such as:
- the name, address, and telephone number of both the lobbyist and the client,
- a copy or statement of the lobbyist’s retainer agreement,
- information on the subject matter on which the lobbyist expects to lobby, and
- the person, organization, or legislative body targeted by the lobbying effort.
Lobbyists must report their activities on a bi-monthly basis and must disclose what issues they are lobbying on, how much they are paid, and any expenses spent, received, or incurred by the lobbyist for the purpose of lobbying. Clients must file similar disclosure reports every six months.
Please note that the lobbying entity is not required to report whether they supported or opposed the legislation. As a result, when you are using the NYOpenGovernment website, you can only determine whether the group worked on the legislation, but cannot determine their position.
Also the Lobbying Act prohibits lobbyists from giving Elected Officials gifts that are worth more than a "nominal" amount, in order to minimize the influence of such gifts in lobbying.
The Public Integrity Commission ceased to function on December 12, 2011. Its responsibilities are now administered by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The Commission's website is: http://www.jcope.ny.gov