PROPOSED RULES

At its April 8, 2016, meeting, the Texas Ethics Commission voted to propose amendments to Texas Ethics Commission Rules §§ 8.7, 20.1, 34.5, 46.3, and 46.5, and new Texas Ethics Commission Rule § 34.14.  The Ethics Commission invites public comment on the proposals.  A written statement should be emailed to public_comment@ethics.state.tx.us, or mailed or delivered to Natalia Luna Ashley, Texas Ethics Commission, P.O. Box 12070, Austin, Texas 78711-2070, or sent by facsimile (FAX) to (512) 463-5777.  A person who wants to offer spoken comments to the commission concerning a proposed rule may do so during the public comment period at any commission meeting when the commission considers the proposed rule.  Information concerning the time and location of commission meetings is available at http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/tec/meetings.htm.

§ 8.7. Request for an Advisory Opinion.
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 20.1. Definitions.
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 34.5. Certain Compensation Excluded.
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 34.14. Expenditures for Fact-Finding Trips.
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 46.3. Definitions.
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 46.5. Disclosure of Interested Parties Form.
Text of Proposed Rule



§ 8.7. Request for an Advisory Opinion.
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 8. ADVISORY OPINIONS

§ 8.7. Request for an Advisory Opinion.

(a) A request for an advisory opinion shall describe a specified factual situation. The facts specified may be real or hypothetical. The request must provide sufficient detail to permit the commission to provide a response to the request, including the name of the person making the request and, if applicable, the name of the person on whose behalf the request is made.

(b) A request for an advisory opinion shall be in writing. A written request may be mailed, hand-delivered, or faxed to the commission at the agency office.


§ 20.1. Definitions.
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 20. REPORTING POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Subchapter A. GENERAL RULES

§ 20.1. Definitions.

The following words and terms, when used in Title 15 of the Election Code, in this chapter, Chapter 22 of this title (relating to Restrictions on Contributions and Expenditures), and Chapter 24 of this title (relating to Restrictions on Contributions and Expenditures Applicable to Corporations and Labor Organizations), shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(1) – (22) (No change.)

(23) School district--For purposes of section 254.130 of the Election Code and sections 20.3 (relating to Reports Filed with the Commission), 20.7 (relating to Reports Filed with Other Local Filing Authority), and 20.315 (relating to Termination of Campaign Treasurer Appointment) of this title, the term includes a junior college district or community college district.


§ 34.5. Certain Compensation Excluded.
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.
The deleted language is indicated by [strikethrough] text.

Chapter 34. REGULATION OF LOBBYISTS

Subchapter A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

§ 34.5. Certain Compensation Excluded.

(a) Compensation received for the following activities is not included for purposes of calculating the registration threshold under Government Code § 305.003(a)(2)[, and this chapter and is not required to be reported on a lobby activity report filed under Government Code, Chapter 305,] and this chapter:

(1) requesting a written opinion that interprets a law, regulation, rule, policy, practice, or procedure administered by a state office or agency;

(2) preparation or submission of an application or other written document that merely provides information required by law, statute, rule, regulation, order, or subpoena, or that responds to a document prepared by a state agency;

(3) communicating merely for the purpose of demonstrating compliance with an audit, inspection, examination of a financial institution, or government investigation to interpret and determine compliance with existing laws, rules, policies, and procedures;

(4) communicating for the purpose of achieving compliance with existing laws, rules, policies, and procedures, including communications to show qualification for an exception of general applicability that is available under existing laws, rules, policies, and procedures;

(5) providing to a member of the legislative or executive branch information consisting of facts or data that the member requested in writing regarding legislation or administrative action, when the request was not solicited by or on behalf of the person providing the information;

(6) communicating to an agency's legal counsel, an administrative law judge, or a hearings examiner concerning litigation or adjudicative proceedings to which the agency is a party, or concerning adjudicative proceedings of that agency;

(7) providing testimony, making an appearance, or any other type of communication documented as part of a public record in a proceeding of an adjudicative nature of the type authorized by or subject to the Administrative Procedure Act, Government Code, Chapter 2001, whether or not that proceeding is subject to the Open Meetings Law;

(8) providing oral or written comments, making an appearance, or any other type of communication, if documented as part of a public record in an agency's rule-making proceeding under the Administrative Procedure Act, Government Code, Chapter 2001, or in public records kept in connection with a legislative hearing; or

(9) providing only clerical assistance to another in connection with the other person's lobbying (for example, a person who merely types or delivers another person's letter to a member).

(b) Subsection (a) of this section does not apply to a registrant. A registrant’s activity described by subsection (a) is subject to disclosure under chapter 305 of the Government Code and this title.


§ 34.14. Expenditures for Fact-Finding Trips.
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 34. REGULATION OF LOBBYISTS

Subchapter A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

§ 34.14. Expenditures for Fact-Finding Trips.

(a) For purposes of §305.025(3), Government Code, an expenditure for transportation or lodging provided to a member of the legislative or executive branch is for a fact-finding trip only if:

(1) the expenditure is necessary for the member to obtain information that directly relates to the member’s official duties;

(2) the member cannot obtain the information without the expenditure; and

(3) the expenditure is not for the member’s attendance at a merely ceremonial event or pleasure trip.

(b) If an expenditure made for transportation or lodging for a fact-finding trip is required to be disclosed on a lobby activities report by §305.0061(a), Government Code, the purpose of the transportation or lodging must include a description of the information that the expenditure was necessary to obtain under subsection (a) of this section.


§ 46.3. Definitions.
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 46. DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTED PARTIES

§ 46.3. Definitions.

(a) “Contract” means a contract between a governmental entity or state agency and a business entity at the time it is voted on by the governing body or at the time it binds the governmental entity or state agency, whichever is earlier, and includes an amended, extended, or renewed contract.

(b) “Business entity” includes an entity through which business is conducted with a governmental entity or state agency, regardless of whether the entity is a for-profit or nonprofit entity. The term does not include a governmental entity or state agency.

(c) “Controlling interest” means:  (1) an ownership interest or participating interest in a business entity by virtue of units, percentage, shares, stock, or otherwise that exceeds 10 percent; (2) membership on the board of directors or other governing body of a business entity of which the board or other governing body is composed of not more than 10 members; or (3) service as an officer of a business entity that has four or fewer officers, or service as one of the four officers most highly compensated by a business entity that has more than four officers.  This paragraph does not apply to an officer of a publicly held business entity or its wholly owned subsidiaries.

(d) “Interested party” means:  (1) a person who has a controlling interest in a business entity with whom a governmental entity or state agency contracts; or (2) an intermediary.

(e) “Intermediary,” for purposes of this rule, means, a person who actively participates in the facilitation of the contract or negotiating the contract, including a broker, adviser, attorney, or representative of or agent for the business entity who:

(1) receives compensation from the business entity for the person’s participation;

(2) communicates directly with the governmental entity or state agency on behalf of the business entity regarding the contract; and

(3) is not an employee of the business entity or of an entity with a controlling interest in the business entity.

(f) “Signed” includes any symbol executed or adopted by a person with present intention to authenticate a writing, including an electronic signature.

(g) “Value” of a contract is based on the amount of consideration received or to be received by the business entity from the governmental entity or state agency under the contract.


§ 46.5. Disclosure of Interested Parties Form.
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.
The deleted language is indicated by [strikethrough] text.

Chapter 46. DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTED PARTIES

§ 46.5. Disclosure of Interested Parties Form.

(a) A disclosure of interested parties form required by §2252.908 of the Government Code must be filed on an electronic form prescribed by the commission that contains the following:

(1) The name of the business entity filing the form and the city, state, and country of the business entity’s place of business;

(2) The name of the governmental entity or state agency that is a party to the contract for which the form is being filed;

(3) The name of each interested party and the city, state, and country of the place of business of each interested party;

(4) The identification number used by the governmental entity or state agency to track or identify the contract for which the form is being filed and a short description of the services, goods, or other property [services] used by the governmental entity or state agency provided under the contract; and

(5) An indication of whether each interested party has a controlling interest in the business entity, is an intermediary in the contract for which the disclosure is being filed, or both.

(b) The certification of filing and the completed disclosure of interested parties form generated by the commission’s electronic filing application must be printed, signed by an authorized agent of the contracting business entity, and submitted to the governmental entity or state agency that is the party to the contract for which the form is being filed.

(c) A governmental entity or state agency that receives a completed disclosure of interested parties form and certification of filing shall notify the commission, in an electronic format prescribed by the commission, of the receipt of those documents not later than the 30th day after the date the governmental entity or state agency receives the disclosure [contract for which the form was filed binds all parties to the contract].

(d) The commission shall make each disclosure of interested parties form filed with the commission under §2252.908(f) of the Government Code available to the public on the commission’s Internet website not later than the seventh business day after the date the commission receives the notice required under subsection (c) of this section.

 
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