Changes sought to Philly’s new lobbying rules

As City Council debates the soda tax, speculation abounds on how much the beverage industry has spent to lobby against the bill. Philadelphia’s lobbying disclosure law is not scheduled to go into effect for another two weeks. But some are asking the city’s Board of Ethics and City Council to rethink the requirements.

The Philadelphia Bar Association submitted a 24-page letter to the ethics board suggesting changes to the disclosure requirements. Bar Chancellor Rudy Garcia says the new rules are so broad, they could end up forcing lawyers to violate the state’s professional code of conduct.

“You may have the choice between not complying and being subject to penalties under this ordinance or complying and being subject to penalties for violating the conduct rules governing lawyers,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the rules currently cover ordinary conversations with city employees that some attorneys engage in on a daily basis.

The Committee of Seventy pushed for the lobby registration and disclosure law. But the government watchdog group suggested a six-month grace period for enforcement.

 Note to readers: WHYY receives grant funds from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to produce content and hold forums related to healthy living.  The department is an advocate of the soda tax.

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