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Council to Continue Tweaking Lobbying Law


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Santa Monicans for Change endorse Lana Negrete and Armen Melkonians for City Council
By Jorge Casuso

October 24, 2022 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to further revise a lobbying law it spent "many months" tweaking in 2015 and 2016 before approving a compromise version.

The proposed changes would prohibit lobbyists from serving on boards, commissions, task forces and advisory boards, according to the latest changes proposed by staff.

The revised ordinance would preclude any person who "in the prior two years has been acting as a lobbyist/legislative advocate" in Santa Monica from being appointed to a government body.

Vote Armen Melkonians for City Council

It also would preclude any member of an appointed body from "simultaneously acting as a lobbyist/legislative advocate."

The revised ordinance -- which is based on a similar law in place in Beverly Hills -- would also further define "lobbying activity."

The latest version comes six years after the Council adopted an ordinance that "was debated at several Council meetings over two years and many months in 2015 and 2016," staff said.

The law was revised several times after some versions "were deemed too elaborate and complex," while others were considered "too simple and threadbare."

At an October 2015 meeting, now Mayor Sue Himmelrich deemed the proposed version "not ready for prime time."

After much debate, the Council directed the City Attorney to rework specific language involving updates on who is being lobbied and how much is being spent, among other information.

On March 1, 2016, the Council adopted the re-written measure that included language that was more specific about who to include as a City official, how to define lobbyist and how to require up-to-date information from lobbyists detailing who they’ve spoken with and why.

“I think the third time is the charm,” said then Council Member Kevin McKeown.

But the adopted "compromise" version modeled after an ordinance in effect in West Hollywood "was viewed then as perhaps a first step, a work in progress," staff said in its report for Tuesday's meeting.

Even if the Council adopts the revisions Tuesday, staff anticipates the tweaking could continue.

"If the Council wishes to consider further changes to the Lobbying Ordinance, it is recommended that the Council schedule and conduct a study session on lobbying," staff wrote.

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