Frequently Asked Questions
Registration & Disclosures
“Lobbyist” means a person who receives or is entitled to receive, either by employment or contract, $500 or more in monetary or in-kind compensation in any calendar year for engaging in lobbying, either personally or through his or her agents, or a person who expends more than $500 on lobbying in any calendar year and employs more than one individual lobbyist, contracts with at least one other lobbyist, or is affiliated with at least one other lobbyist. 2 V.S.A. § 261(10).
Any person, other than a lobbying firm, who engages the services of a lobbyist for compensation for the purposes of lobbying. A lobbyist who employs another lobbyist shall be required to register and report both as an employer and a lobbyist. 2 V.S.A. §261(4)
"Lobbying firm" means a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability corporation, or unincorporated association which receives or is entitled to receive $500.00 or more in monetary or in-kind compensation for engaging in lobbying, either personally or through its agents, in any calendar year and employs more than one individual lobbyist, contracts with at least one other lobbyist, or is affiliated with at least one other lobbyist. 17 V.S.A. § 261(12).
How do I review filings made by lobbyists or find out if a person or entity is registered as a lobbyist or lobbyist employer in the state of Vermont?
The Office of the Secretary of State maintains a online searchable database in which individuals, employers, and/or firms can be queried to verify if they are in fact registered to practice lobbying in the state of Vermont.
Beginning in the 2015-2016 biennium, all lobbyists, lobbyist employers, and lobbying firms are required to file their registrations and disclosures through the online system - meaning all lobbying related information filed with the Secretary of State will be accessible through the public search functions of that system. You can find the online database here.
For filings from bienniums previous to 2015-2016, you may find disclosure information on the "Search Prior Biennium Records" page of our website.
The filing cost to register as a lobbyist in Vermont is $60 plus $15 to link to each employer that you will lobby for.
So the base fee = $60.
- Add one Employer ($15) = $75
- Add two Employers ($30) = $90
- Add three Employers ($45) = $105
The same fee scale is applied for lobbyist employers when they are registering and adding lobbyists as well.
After registering, you will remain registered until the end of the biennium or until you file a termination form with the Office of the Secretary of State. If you cease to lobby in the state of Vermont, but do not file a termination form, you will still be considered an active lobbyist and be required to file the lobbyist disclosure forms, which may lead to incurring penalty fees for failure to do so. Each lobbyist, lobbying firm, and lobbyist employer shall re-register at the beginning of each biennium if they wish to continue lobbying in the state of Vermont.
How often are lobbyist or lobbyist employer disclosure reports required to be filed with the Office of the Secretary of State?
**Under Act 49, which made changes to the lobbying law and takes effect July 1, 2015, the mandatory disclosure reporting dates have changed. Under the new law, disclosure reports for lobbyists, lobbyist employers, and lobbying firms are due seven (7) times per year:
January 15 (covers period of Sept 1 – December 31)
February 15 (covers period of Jan 1 – January 31)
March 15 (covers period of Feb 1 – last day of February)
April 15 (covers period of March 1 – March 31)
May 15 (covers period of April 1 – April 30)
June 15 (covers period of May 1 – May 31)
September 15 (covers period of June 1 – August 31)
Yes. All lobbyist and lobbyist employer documentation that is filed with the Office of the Secretary of State is considered a public record. Beginning with the 2015-2016 biennium, all lobbying disclosure reports filed with the Secretary of State are available to the public through the online Lobbying Information System.
If I am a lobbyist and buy a state senator dinner, is that something that should be reported as a gift?
Any expense spent on a legislator or administrative official that is over $15 is reportable as a gift on your lobbyist disclosure report.
No. If a gift, as defined in 2 V.S.A. §261(6), worth more than $15 is given by or on behalf of a lobbyist, lobbying firm, or employer to a legislator or administrative official, it must be separately reported. The exceptions in the definition of a “gift” are: anything given between family members; printed educational materials such as books, reports, pamphlets, or periodicals; a gift which is not used and which, within 30 days after receipt, is returned to the donor, or for which the donor is reimbursed for its fair market value; and a devise or inheritance. 2 V.S.A. §261(6) (B).
Is it lobbying when a lobbyist employer sponsors a concert for the general public with a ticket price of $15 and provides invitations and free tickets to legislators?
The concert itself is not a lobbying event, but the employer must separately report as a gift the cost of each ticket (of $15 or more) that is provided to a legislator or administrative official. The law includes payment of expenses to or for any sporting, recreational, or entertainment events by a lobbyist or lobbyist employer.