From the Gotham Gazette:
New York City's Lobbying Commission wants to redefine lobbying.
"We're expanding the definition of when lobbying begins," said Herbert E. Berman, the commission's chairman. Current laws, he explained, define lobbying only as advocacy for bills that have been introduced, though much lobbying occurs before then, in the drafting of legislation for example.
This is one of several overarching changes to the city's lobbying laws that the commission is expected to proposed in a preliminary report that could be released for public review as soon as today. Once it is reviewed in a public hearing, the final recommendations will go to the mayor and City Council, who could then draft bills incorporating the proposals.
The commission, which was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council in January, hopes to increase transparency and disclosure on real lobbying activity, while lifting some of the burdens of lobbying reporting requirements from small organizations with limited advocacy efforts. In addition to Berman, a former council member who was chair of the council's Finance Committee, the commission also included Jamila Ponton Bragg, Lesley Horton, Margaret Morton and Lisa Vasquez.
The commission is the first group to examine the current lobbying laws since they were revamped in 2006. The 2006 law included a suggestion that an advisory board review the revisions after three years – not five. Council Speaker Christine Quinn has attributed the delay to a lengthy search for the right people. "We wanted to find a diverse group of commissioners," she said in January.