If an individual qualifies as a "lobbyist" or an activity counts as "lobbying" based on the definitions of these terms, a whole host of laws may come into effect. Registration, disclosures, gift restrictions and prohibitions - all of these and more depend on the definitions of lobbying and lobbyist.
States generally define lobbying as an attempt to influence government action through either written or oral communication. However, each state may have unique elements for what constitutes lobbying, exceptions to the definitions, and exceptions to those exceptions.
Lobbyists are not simply individuals who engage in lobbying. As an example of one common exception, a legislator attempting to gather support for a bill through the normal course of legislative operations would not be considered a lobbyist. A constituent making a call to a policymaker regarding a matter of personal concern would similarly be exempt.
The definition of a lobbyist typically revolves around lobbying on behalf of another for compensation. Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Texas, Wyoming and New York stipulate compensation thresholds, so that an individual is required to register only after receiving a certain amount of compensation.
The following table provides definitions of lobbying, lobbyist, and other related terms from the respective states' statutes.
This table is intended to provide general information and does not necessarily address all aspects of this topic. Because the facts of each situation may vary, this information may need to be supplemented by consulting legal advisors. All content is up to date through 9/30/2019.