Pursuant to Section 112.3261, Florida Statutes, starting July 1, 2014, a person may not lobby a water management district until such person has registered with that district. A person wanting to lobby the Southwest Florida Water Management District is urged to read the full text of the new law and other referenced sections. The Southwest Florida Water Management District cannot provide legal advice or guidance in this matter.
1. What is lobbying?
According to the statute, “lobbies” or “lobbying” means seeking, on behalf of another person, to influence a water management district with respect to a decision of the district in an area of policy or procurement or an attempt to obtain the goodwill of a district official or employee. The term “lobbies” will be interpreted and applied consistently with the rules of the Commission on Ethics implementing Section 112.3215, Florida Statutes.
2. Who is a lobbyist?
A “lobbyist” is a person who is employed and receives payment, or who contracts for economic consideration, for the purpose of lobbying, or a person who is principally employed for governmental affairs by another person or governmental entity to lobby on behalf of that other person or governmental entity.
3. Are permit-related activities considered lobbying?
No. Representation of a client before the District regarding the grant or denial of a permit or at a publicly noticed hearing or workshop conducted by the District regarding a proposed District rule is not considered lobbying.
4. What does “policy” mean as related to lobbying?
“Policy” means a plan or course of action which is applicable to a class of persons, proceedings, or other matters, and which is designed to influence or determine the subsequent decisions and actions of an agency. Examples include, any plan or course of action which would constitute a “rule” as defined in Section 120.52, Florida Statutes, or a Governing Board policy or procedure such as those involving the Cooperative Funding Initiative or procurement. The term does not include the adjudication or determination of any rights, duties, or obligations of a person made on a case-by-case basis, such as would be involved in the issuance or denial of a permit. (See Executive Branch Lobbyist Registration Rule 34-12.020, F.A.C.)
5. When must a lobbyist register?
Beginning July 1, 2014, a lobbyist must register with the District Clerk prior to lobbying the District on behalf of a principal. Such registration is due upon initially being retained to lobby.
6. What is a principal?
A “principal” is the person, firm, corporation, governmental entity, or other entity that has employed or retained a lobbyist.
7. Must a lobbyist have permission of a principal in order to register for that principal?
Yes. A statement signed by the principal or the principal’s representative must be provided to the District stating that the lobbyist is authorized to represent the principal. The Authorization to Represent the Principal Form may be utilized to complete this requirement.
8. How does a lobbyist register with the District?
Instructions and registration material are available online at WaterMatters.org/LobbyistRegistration. A person wishing to lobby the District must submit the Lobbying Registration Form and the Authorization to Represent the Principal Form to the District Clerk. Submittals may be made by hand delivery or mail delivery to 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604, or via email to Lobbyist@WaterMatters.org. A lobbyist must submit a separate registration form for each principal they represent before the District.
9. Is there a registration fee?
No. At this time, there is no cost to register as a lobbyist with the District.
10. Where may lobbyists obtain the required documents?
Instructions, forms, and other reference material are available online at WaterMatters.org/LobbyistRegistration.
11. When are registrations effective?
Registrations are deemed complete and effective when all of the required items have been received by the District Clerk.
12. How long are registrations effective?
The initial registration period will extend through December 31, 2014. After that, renewals or new registrations will be effective for a calendar-year starting January 1.
13. What information must be provided under oath on the Lobbying Registration Form?
• The lobbyist’s name and mailing address.
• The name and mailing address of the principal represented.
• The existence of any direct or indirect business association, partnership, or financial relationship with any officer or employee of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
14. What information is required on the Principal’s Authorization?
• The lobbyist’s name.
• The principal’s name, a description of the principal’s main business, and the NAICS 6-digit code.
• The name, title, and signature of the principal or the principal’s representative.
15. Will the District maintain a public database of currently registered lobbyists and principals?
Yes. A searchable database of registered lobbyists and their principal(s) will be available on the District website at WaterMatters.org/LobbyistRegistration.
16. What is the process for registration changes or cancellations?
A lobbyist must notify the District within 15 days of any changes to their registration information by submitting a new registration form to the District. Additionally, a lobbyist must promptly notify the District upon termination of the lobbyist’s representation of a principal. The District can remove the name of a lobbyist from the list of registered lobbyists if the principal notifies the District that a person is no longer authorized to represent that principal. Cancellations are effective upon receipt by the District Clerk.
17. Does registration with District apply to other water management districts?
No. Separate registrations must be sent to each water management district that an individual intends to lobby. Registration instructions for the other four districts can be found on their websites.