Up until last year, Philadelphia had the unfortunate distinction of being the only big city in the country with no laws regulating lobbyists.
Lobbying is the act of trying to influence government. Most lobbying laws require paid lobbyists – like soda tax opponents who flooded City Hall this month – to register and report activity, so the public can see who spends how much to influence whom.
Last spring, without much fanfare or concern, Council finally passed a law requiring lobbyists to report activity to the Board of Ethics. The law is scheduled to go into effect next month.
But last week, the Board of Ethics held a hearing about regulations for the new law (regulations are specific guidelines for how a law works). This time, there was concern. The Bar Association and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce complained that the law needs clarification about what counts as lobbying, and may cover interactions that shouldn’t be considered lobbying.
The Board of Ethics is confident it can implement the law and be clear about it.
Is the law confusing? On this week’s It’s Our Money podcast, Doron Taussig and Juliana Reyes use their considerable acting talents to explore the question of what counts as lobbying.
“It’s Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation.