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5/24/2016 Lobbying reform act passes House
STATE HOUSE – Legislation (2016-H 7388 Sub A) sponsored by Rep. Robert B. Jacquard that reforms the state’s general laws on lobbying was passed by the House of Representatives tonight with a vote of 67-0. 

Developed with Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea, the intent of the legislation is to simplify and clarify the rules governing lobbying, to maximize transparency without imposing unnecessary burdens on the process, to promote a more user-friendly registration and reporting system, and to strengthen the investigation and enforcement scheme of the state’s lobbying rules and regulations.  The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

 “Our state’s system of lobbying must be reformed to ensure the integrity of our governmental processes.  Transparency and accountability to the taxpayers of Rhode Island is crucial to reforming the public’s trust in government and I am pleased to say that is exactly what will be accomplished with this legislation,” said Representative Jacquard (D-Dist. 17, Cranston).  “The public deserves to know who is trying to influence the decisions of policy makers and this legislation makes that possible in an easy and transparent way for the taxpayers.”

“Today, the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted to approve the Rhode Island Lobbying Reform Act.  This legislation will provide for a comprehensive reform of our state's lobbying laws. I thank House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, the bill's sponsors, Representatives Jacquard, Williams, Ruggiero, and McEntee, and the entire House of Representatives for their overwhelming support of this legislation that will clarify, streamline and strengthen the lobbying laws in our state," said Secretary of State Gorbea.

Provisions of the legislation include: clarifying the definitions of lobbyist and lobbying; providing a solid framework for investigations and hearings; authorizing administrative subpoena power in the course of conducting investigations; bringing the Department of State in line with standard practices currently used by other state agencies such as Department of Business Regulations and Department of Environmental Management;  strengthening and simplifying lobbying reporting guidelines for those involved while making it easier for the general public to access these reports and understand the information being reported; and increasing maximum penalties for non-compliance to more than double the current amounts.

Cosponsors of the legislation include Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), and Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) sponsored companion legislation (2016-S 2361 Sub A) in the Senate that recently passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and now awaits a floor vote before the full Senate.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903