REQUESTED BY: Timothy Shaw and Nebraska Advocacy Services, Inc.
QUESTION: Must the Executive Director of a private, non-profit agency whose regular duties of employment do not ordinarily include engaging in lobbying activities, register as a lobbyist for the purpose of promoting the introduction and enactment of state legislation which will impact upon the ability of the private, non-profit agency to implement the mandate of a federal act?
In the request for this Advisory Opinion, we are advised that Mr. Timothy Shaw is the Executive Director for Nebraska Advocacy Services, Inc. which is a private, non-profit corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Nebraska. Its purpose is to assure the representation of the rights, needs, and interests of developmentally disabled persons and certain mentally ill individuals. NAS receives federal funds to implement the protection and advocacy mandate of the Federal Developmental Disabilities Act of 1984 and the Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act of 1986. In order to fulfill its mandate Nebraska Advocacy Services Inc. may seek the introduction and enaction of state legislation.
We are further advised that the Executive Director, in the course of seeking the introduction and enactment of legislation, will be meeting with senators and testifying before legislative committees. It is our understanding that Mr. Shaw's regular duties of employment do not ordinarily include engaging in lobbying activities and that he will receive no additional compensation for these activities.
The proposed activities of Mr. Shaw fall within the definition of lobbying, that is the practice of promoting or opposing for another person the introduction or enactment of legislation before the legislature. Mr Shaw would be a lobbyist and Nebraska Advocacy Services, Inc. would be a principal. It is, therefore, necessary to determine if Mr. Shaw or NAS fall within any of the exemptions found in Section 49-1434(3) or the rules and regulations of the Commission.
An exemption which is arguably applicable is Section 49-1434(3)(d). This is not applicable because the facts of which we are advised indicate that there is no intent on the part of Mr. Shaw to limit his activities to appearances before legislative committees and to the writing of letters or furnishing of written materials to individual members of the legislature.
Further Mr. Shaw may suggest that he should be exempt from the registration requirement because he is an employee of a principal whose regular duties do not ordinarily include lobbying and he is not compensated for doing so in addition to his regular salary. See section 6.003.01B, Title 4, Chapter 6 of the Rules and Regulations for Lobbying. This provision is intended to apply to an individual where it is clear that his duties in behalf of a principal do not ordinarily include lobbying and where the principal already has a registered lobbyist whereby the reporting of expenditures by the principal or others on behalf of the principal would be reported. We are unaware of any lobbyist registered for NAS and therefore take the position that under the circumstances described by Mr. Shaw he would be required to register as a lobbyist.