PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea today celebrated the passage of the 2016 Lobby Reform Act during a State House Library ceremony where Governor Raimondo signed the bill into law. Gorbea championed the legislation, introduced by Representative Jacquard and Senator Lynch Prata, in an effort to clarify, simplify, and strengthen lobby laws in the state.
"Comprehensive reform of the state's lobbying laws has been a top priority of my administration," Secretary Gorbea said. "This law strengthens Rhode Island's commitment to transparency and effective government."
The 2016 Lobby Reform Act came in response to repeated concerns from constituents, lawmakers and lobbyists that the state's existing lobbying statutes were difficult to interpret and to comply with. In response, Secretary Gorbea initiated a comprehensive review of the two statutes governing lobbying and established a Lobbying Advisory Task Force to help guide efforts that would strengthen and clarify Rhode Island's lobbying laws.
The landmark legislation accomplishes three objectives:
1. Provides much clearer definitions and bright line distinctions, so those involved can more easily determine who does and does not have to register to lobby.
2. Provides a clear process to investigate possible violations of the lobbying law.
3. Strengthens penalties for violations.
"I thank Governor Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello, Senate President Paiva Weed, our sponsors, Representative Jacquard and Senator Lynch Prata, and the entire General Assembly for working with me to make Rhode Island a national leader in openness and transparency," Gorbea said.
The Department of State is currently developing a new web-based Lobby Tracker Portal to launch ahead of the next legislative session. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2017.