The Lobbyist/Legislative Staffer Dynamic with Chris Micheli and Erinn Ryberg (transcript)

Today’s podcast is a conversation between two familiar voices here on CAP·impact – veteran lobbyist Chris Micheli and veteran capitol staffer (turned lobbyist since recording) Erinn Ryberg – talking about one of the most critical dynamics in the California Legislature, the working dynamic between legislative staffer and lobbyist.

The two walk through how that dynamic plays out over the course of California’s legislative process, from bill introduction through the committee process to the floor. They talk about how different offices will staff bills differently, and how that can affect the dynamic between staff and lobbyist.

It’s a freewheeling conversation that takes a comprehensive look at how to establish a solid working relationship between staffer and lobbyist, and how the power dynamics between lobbyists, staffers, and members play out in California’s legislative process.




McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California course – Part 1 (transcript)

In today’s post I continue my series looking at the courses offered by the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law to train aspiring Capital Lawyers who plan to work in and around California state government. Today’s post is one of two on McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California class.

McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California course is only one of a handful of law school courses that is dedicated specifically to forms of lawmaking in the state of California. It covers the fundamental components of the legislative process as well as discussions of the rulemaking process and avenues of direct democracy.

The topics covered in the course include legislative procedure, bill drafting and analysis, legislative history and intent, advocacy, relationships with the Executive Branch, and the powers and limits of the Legislative Branch of California state government.

The course is taught in downtown Sacramento at the State Capitol, rather than on the law school campus, as this provides students with the feel of the practice of Capital Lawyering. Instead of having a textbook, the course uses a close to six hundred page reader that’s full of substantive information that be readily used as a reference guide for anyone working in or around the legislative and/or regulatory processes. The reader is compiled by the course’s two professors, Diane Boyer-Vine and me.

In addition to a midterm and final – each worth 20% of a student’s grade – the course features practical writing assignments – a bill and amendment drafting project and a bill analysis drafting project. The bill drafting project not only requires that students draft a bill, but also draft a substantive amendment to address one or more opposition concerns that could be raised with the original bill and drafting an urgency clause for the bill as well as a justification for that urgency clause.

That’s the 30,000 foot overview of McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California course. Next week we’ll discuss more of the particulars of the class.




Intro to Capital Lawyering – Part 2 (transcript)

Today’s post is part two on the Introduction to Capital Lawyering course – to be called Capital Lawyering and Policy Making going forward – that is offered at McGeorge School of Law. You can find my first post on the Capital Lawyering and Policy Making course here.

McGeorge’s Capital Lawyering and Policy Making course is taught by adjunct professor Tom Nussbaum, who is a former Chancellor of the California Community College system. He also authored the course reader.

According to Professor Nussbaum, policy analysis is the rubric for problem solving that is typically applied in policy making settings, like the California Legislature. As such, the first three class sessions revolve around various policy analysis methodologies and applying policy analysis to real world issues.

The course also serves to introduce students to the various venues for lawyering in the government, with a particular focus on California state government. Of the fourteen class sessions that comprise this course, half of them focus on lawyering at the three levels of government. Four of those courses focus on California state government, two classes focus on lawyering at the federal government level, and one is dedicated to local government.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, the purpose of the course is to provide students with exposure to capital lawyering in general while educating them about the levels of government so that students understand that government may provide an avenue to resolve a client’s legal problem beyond traditional litigation of alternative dispute resolution. Students will take away from this course the knowledge that changing the law may be the best approach to solving a legal issue rather than litigating it.

In next week’s post, as part of this larger series on how the Capital Center for Law & Policy trains capital lawyers, I’ll start walking you through McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California course, which I co-teach with Legislative Counsel Dianne Boyer-Vine.




Intro to Capital Lawyering – Part 1 (transcript)

Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s post about the role of the capital lawyer. As I mentioned last week, I’ll be explaining how the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law trains capital lawyers. Today’s podcast is the first of five that will give an overview of how McGeorge School of Law trains capital lawyers.

The podcast today is part one of going over the Introduction to Capital Lawyering course. Part two will be next week’s podcast. This is the one mandatory course in the Capital Lawyering concentration. I should also note that starting in fall 2018, the name of this course will be different. The new name for the course going forward is “Capital Lawyering and Policy Making.”

The course is geared to give students the proverbial 30,000 foot view of the three levels of government, as well as the three branches of government – with a particular emphasis on California state government. The overall objective of the course is to ensure that students are informed and aware of the different avenues available to address a client’s legal issue.

Specifically, the learning objectives of the course are to introduce and acquaint students with the fundamental knowledge and skills that are essential to lawyering with California state government and with government in general; ensure that students will be able to perform policy analysis using a variety of methodologies; ensure students will be able to weigh and consider particular venues to pursue a policy change and they’ll be able to determine which venue provides the greatest opportunity for client success. The course also serves to provide students with an understanding of the many career options available to capital lawyers in and around California state government, which I go into greater detail on in the podcast. These are just a few of objectives, but there are many more.

Next week we’ll dive into the syllabus and more of the specifics of the Capital Lawyering and Policy Making course.




The Role of the Capital Lawyer

Today’s podcast is on the role of the capital lawyer. One of the things we do here at McGeorge School of Law is train individuals to be successful capital lawyers. I’ll talk more about how McGeorge trains capital lawyers in the coming weeks.

So, who are capital lawyers, and what do they do? Capital lawyers are those who attain the fundamental knowledge and skills that are essential to lawyering in California state government. Of course, these individuals could also practice law at the local or federal levels of government.

Some of the foundational skills that capital lawyers possess include:

  • Public policy research, development, and analysis skills;
  • Appreciation for the various policy-making venues so that a proper determination can be made as to which venue or venues provide the best chances for client success;
  • Verbal and written advocacy and negotiation skills in different policy-making venues; and
  • Knowledge about multiple areas of law and public policy issues that are unique to government and the public sector

A well prepared Capital lawyer will be able to work within the different and rather unique policy-making venues at the local, state, and federal levels.

What are some examples of Capital Lawyering careers? In the California Legislature examples include: committee consultants, staff to the legislative leaders and individual legislators, and staff to party caucuses or other legislative support agencies such as the Office of Legislative Counsel.

In the executive branch, a capital lawyer could work for the Governor in legal affairs, legislative affairs or appointments. Or they could work in one of California’s more than 200 state agencies with rulemaking authority as an attorney, advocate, administrative law judge – ALJ – or enforcement officer.

There are also opportunities for capital lawyers with non-profits and businesses in the private sector that seek to influence policy on both legislative and regulatory matters.

This is just a sampling of the skills a capital lawyer has and the opportunities for capital lawyers in a capital city, like Sacramento. Next week, we’ll start diving in to how the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law trains capital lawyers and prepares them for success.





How to Successfully Utilize Lobbying Coalitions

Today’s podcast is on utilizing lobbying coalitions. A vital aspect of lobbying in California is to join forces with other similarly situated parties because a larger group is often more powerful and effective than a single voice, or even just a few.

These organized efforts often draw more attention to an advocacy position and allow decision makers to know that many groups share the same perspective on a pending bill or issue. And quite frankly, in most cases, a collective voice is more effective than just a single voice. I think the key to running a successful lobbying coalition is to keep the group cohesive when working for or against an issue or measure.

Lobbying coalitions can also provide other benefits. One is that individual companies or interest groups may not want to be the only ones publicly involved in the bill or issue. As such, a lobbying coalition provides cover, if you will, for others to be more public and vocal with their position. A lobbying coalition can also provide funding to – for example – hire a grassroots firm or a media relations company to work on different aspects of a lobbying campaign.

Coalitions can be a critical component of effective lobbying because elected officials and their staff are often more interested or persuaded on an issue or bill when there are multiple voices weighing in on a particular issue or measure. What would you find more persuasive, an entire industry united in support or opposition to a bill, or just a couple companies?

Lobbying coalitions are also important because they allow for division of labor among their participants by ensuring that all the key legislators are being lobbied on a bill or use. That may not always occur if just one individual or group is responsible for lobbying a particular measure.

Lastly, it’s worth remembering that while it’s often said that two heads are better than one, it’s equally important to keep in mind that too many cooks spoil the meal. Both of these clichés are equally valid when applied to a lobbying coalition, and it’s important for an organization’s leader to be able to assess which one applies in a given situation.




Other Types of Lobbying

Today’s podcast is a follow up on last week’s post about the different types of lobbying clients and services. Today we’ll be looking at other types of lobbying.

Although most lobbying occurs in the legislative and regulatory arenas generally, there are several other types of lobbying – such as grassroots lobbying as well as advocacy before specific agencies that often have unique rules and procedures for lobbying those agencies. Today’s podcast will discuss grassroots lobbying as well as a few of those specialized state bodies that lobbyists should be aware of.

Grassroots lobbying, which is sometimes referred to as indirect lobbying, involves members of the general public as opposed to those directly impacted by a bill or issue. In essence, grassroots lobbying is an effort to cajole members of the general public into contacting their elected officials so that the members of the public are lobbying the decision makers.

This type of lobbying requires educating large groups of individuals and then mobilizing them into some sort of call to action. It usually involves efforts to get specific organizations or community groups to become involved in the efforts to pass or defeat pending legislation or regulations.

Educating the public can take multiple forms: such as direct mailers, social media, paid or earned media, press conferences, etc. Outreach efforts are key to successful grassroots lobbying and the media often play a critical role in these outreach efforts.

Now let’s turn to lobbying some of those specialized agencies. Some of the state agencies that have specialized lobbying rules and procedures include the Public Utilities Commission, PUC, the California Coastal Commission – the Coastal Commission – and the California Air Resources Board – CARB.

In general, a lobbyist is one who is paid to communicate with officials for the purpose of influencing legislative of administrative action. This is the definition of lobbying in the Political Reform Act in the Government Code. In the brief podcast, I go into more depth about some of the specific rules for lobbyists lobbying the PUC.

It’s important for lobbyists to be aware of rules regulating conduct when lobbying different state agencies and departments. These rules need to be reviewed prior to undertaking any activity, and then of course, you have to follow them to ensure proper compliance. Otherwise, both the lobbyists and his or her client could be adversely impacted.




Types of Lobbying Clients and Services

Today’s post is on the types of lobbying clients and services provided. There are several different types of clients that contract lobbyists have, each requiring different levels and types of services. Some clients are at a low end of the service spectrum while other clients are at the very high end, requiring daily attention.

Contract lobbyists may have a myriad of clients in different industries while others may specialize in specific types of clients. Regardless of the subject matter of the client’s interest, there are essentially four types of clients: monitoring, lobbying, consulting, and procurement.

Monitoring clients simply desire to know what is happening at the Legislature and/or with regulatory agencies and the Governor’s office. This type of client requires a lobbyist to monitor relevant legislation and regulations, sometimes budget items, and politics generally involving particular issue areas or industries. As a result of monitoring legislation and regulations, lobbyists may work with their clients to develop strategic plans, designed to meet their near-term and long-term objectives.

The next type of servicing is lobbying. These services can range from supporting or opposing legislation or regulations, or sponsoring bills, to make specified changes in the law. There are essentially three types of lobbying – legislative lobbying, regulatory advocacy lobbying, and budget advocacy.

Legislative consulting and advocacy services usually include research and analysis of policy issues, daily monitoring of legislation introduced and amended, and advocacy for and against legislation affecting clients. Regulatory advocacy is similar, but it’s a world unto its own with separate rules. Lobbyists help their clients meaningfully engage in the public comment period and the formal hearings when regulatory bodies engage in their quasi-legislative activities.

The next type of client and service is consulting. This type of client doesn’t require lobbying or advocacy services, but instead desires to retain a lobbyist to provide consulting or advisory services. These types of clients want active advising regarding what they should be doing such that the lobbyist provides political advice or consulting to the client, such as how to navigate the legislative or regulatory processes, identify viable candidates for open seats, and recommend candidates without actually advocating.

The last type of lobbying service provided is procurement lobbying. These types of lobbyists do not have to register as a lobbyist under the Political Reform Act. In this role, lobbyists try to secure contracts for the purchase of goods or services by the State of California.




Ethics Rules for California Lobbyists

Today’s podcast is on lobbying ethics rules. There are only a few specific laws that address ethical rules for lobbyists.

Beyond those, lobbyists are encouraged to abide by a code of ethics in conducting their professional activities. These include the code of ethics adopted and maintained by the Institute of Governmental Advocates, IGA, an organization to which many Sacramento lobbyists belong, and a code of ethics adopted by the California Legislature.

So what are some of the state’s lobbying laws? For starters, there is the Political Reform Act, the PRA, which was adopted by the voters in a statewide election as Proposition 9 in 1974. The PRA contains the main statutes concerning the ethical rules for the lobbying profession in the state of California. The details of the statute concerning ethical rules are covered in the podcast.

In addition to what is covered in the PRA and Government Code, there are other state laws that impose certain ex parte communication restrictions on the participants in administrative adjudicatory proceedings and before certain state agencies, such as the Public Utilities Commission. There are also revolving door prohibitions that affect public officials who go into the lobbying profession that essentially preclude them from communicating with or appearing before any state agency for which they worked during the 12 months before leaving state employment.

Lobbyists are also subject to criminal laws, including bribery and extortion laws as well as mail fraud, wire fraud, and the infamous RICO statute.

As I said before, in addition to the laws by which lobbyists must abide, there is also a legislative code of ethics that the Legislature adopted for lobbyists. In addition to the legislative code of ethics, the IGA has a code of ethics that lobbyists must abide by.

The details of those codes of ethics can be found in the podcast. Thanks for listening.




Laws Regulating Lobbyists

Today’s podcast is a brief overview of some of the laws that regulate the lobbying profession in California. In the podcast, I go over lobbying laws and campaigns laws, and how they impact lobbyists.

The Political Reform Act of 1974, often referred to as the PRA, was adopted by the voters as Proposition 9 and is the main law governing lobbying ethics and political campaigns. Note that some cities and counties have locally adopted ordinances regulating lobbying activity as well.

The PRA charges the Fair Political Practices Commission, also known as the FPPC, with enforcing the PRA. I will leave most of the details of the laws regulating lobbyists to the podcast, and here, direct you to where in the Government Code and California Code of Regulations you can find the various laws regulating lobbyists.

The purpose of lobbyist regulation as stated in the PRA is found in Title 9. It reads:

The activities of lobbyists should be regulated and their finances disclosed in order that improper influences will not be directed at public officials.”

Chapter 6 of Title 9 deals specifically with lobbyists. Chapter 6 contains Sections 86100 through 86300. In addition to the laws found in Government Code provisions, the FPPC has adopted regulations on lobbying. Those regulations are contained in Title 2, Sections 18109 through 18997 of the California Code of Regulations.

Article 1 of Chapter 6 of the Government Code sets forth the registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists, Article 2 of the Government Code deals with prohibitions, and Article 3 of Chapter 6 deals with specified exemptions. Again, I go over the contents of those articles in the podcast. The laws I have pointed to here specifically deal with lobbying – you’ll need to listen to the audio for a discussion on how campaign laws impact lobbyists.