From the Texas Ethics Commission Guide to Lobbying

REGISTRATION EXCEPTIONS

Incidental Lobbying. Effective January 1, 2017, a person is not required to register under the compensation threshold, no matter how much compensation or reimbursement the person receives to lobby, if lobbying constitutes not more than 40 hours of the person’s compensated time during a calendar quarter, including preparatory activity. 1 T.A.C. § 34.43(b). See COMPENSATION AND REIMBURSEMENT THRESHOLD, Compensation to Prepare for Lobbying. If a person spends more than eight hours in a single day lobbying, the person is considered to have engaged in lobbying activity for only eight hours during that day for purposes of calculating the 40-hour threshold. Gov’tCode § 305.003(b-4). The “incidental lobbying” exception is not an exception to registration if aperson makes lobby expenditures that exceed the expenditure threshold.

Certain Activity Not Included in Calculating Compensation Threshold. Compensation or reimbursement received for the following types of communications to influence a state officer or employee do not count toward the compensation threshold:

  • oral or written comments, an appearance, or any other type of communication, if documented in public records kept in connection with a legislative hearing;

  • providing information consisting of facts or data to a state officer or employee, when the state officer or employee requested the information in writing and the request was not solicited by or on behalf of the person providing the information;

  • communications made by a person who is providing only clerical assistance to someone who is lobbying (for example, a person who merely types or delivers another person's letter to a state officer or employee);

  • preparation or submission of an application or other written document that merely provides information required by law, statute, rule, regulation, order, or subpoena, or that responds to a document prepared by a state agency;

  • requesting a written opinion that interprets a law, regulation, rule, policy, practice, or procedure administered by a state office or agency;

  • communicating merely to demonstrate compliance with an audit, inspection, examination of a financial institution, or government investigation;

  • communicating to achieve compliance with existing laws, rules, policies, and procedures, including communications to show qualification for an exception of general applicability that is available under existing laws, rules, policies, and procedures;

  • providing testimony, making an appearance, or any other type of communication documented as part of a public record in a proceeding of an adjudicative nature of the type authorized by or subject to the Administrative Procedure Act, whether or not that proceeding is subject to the Open Meetings Law;

  • providing oral or written comments, making an appearance, or any other type of communication, if documented as part of a public record in an agency's rule-making proceeding under the Administrative Procedure Act; and

  • communicating to an agency's legal counsel, an administrative law judge, or a hearings examiner concerning litigation or adjudicative proceedings to which the agency is a party, or concerning adjudicative proceedings of that agency.

    A person who crosses the compensation threshold on the basis of other lobby communications, or who exceeds the expenditure threshold, is required to register and report the activity as provided by chapter 305 of the Government Code and Ethics Commission rules. 1 T.A.C. § 34.5(b).

Public Officials. A government officer or employee who communicates to influence legislation or administrative action in his or her capacity as a government officer or employee is not required to register on the basis of those communications. This exception does not apply to an officer oremployee of a “quasi-governmental body” as defined by section 305.003(b-1) of the Government Code. (Note: Chapter 556 of the Government Code restricts the use of appropriated funds for lobbying.)

Exception for Activities in Connection with Certain Events. An expenditure made in connection with an event to promote the interests of a designated geographic area or political subdivision is not included in calculating the expenditure threshold if the expenditure is made by a group that exists for the limited purpose of sponsoring the event or by a person acting on behalf of such a group.

News Media. The statute excepts from the registration requirement a person who owns, publishes, or is employed by a newspaper or other regularly published periodical, a radio station, a television station, a wire service, or any other bona fide news medium that in the ordinary course of business disseminates news, letters to the editors, editorial or other comment, or paid advertisements that directly or indirectly oppose or promote legislation or administrative action, provided that the person does not engage in any other activities requiring registration.

Lobbyist’s Employer/Client. A person does not have to register if the person’s ONLY activity toinfluence official action is to compensate or reimburse someone else to lobby on the person’s behalf.