Lifton: Reform Bill Will Close Lobbying Loophole
March 7, 2005
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Tompkins/Cortland) announced the Assembly passed a bill she supported to limit the influence of lobbying on the awarding of state and local government contracts (A.9-C). "Billions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year on state and local government contracts," Lifton said. "Often, there is little or no oversight of the behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts of state agencies or local governments. We need greater accountability and scrutiny on how contracts are awarded. The Assembly’s bill closes lobbying loopholes and helps assure taxpayers’ money is being spent on legitimate and cost-effective projects." Under current law, lobbyists are not required to disclose procurement lobbying activities. The Assembly’s bill expands the definition of lobbying to include any effort to influence the action of any public official – state or municipal – regarding procurement of commodities or services, construction and the sale or purchase of land. The bill also would require disclosure of lobbying efforts to influence the implementation of rules and regulations, tribal state compacts, and executive orders, as well as municipal resolutions. In addition to requiring lobbyists to register and disclose procurement contracts, the legislation will limit contacts during a restricted period to a designated contact officer – a move designed to reduce any outside influence on the established bidding process. "We must ensure accountability at all levels of government," Lifton said. "A democracy requires openness and accountability, and this bill is a long stride in that direction." Lifton said the Assembly’s bill is part of a broad package of reform measures aimed at improving the overall operation of New York government. "It’s no secret that Albany needs reform," Lifton said. "The Assembly is leading the way to improving the way we do business, and I hope we can count on our colleagues in the Senate and the governor to support lobbying and other critical reforms."