Promoting confidence, transparency, and accountability in Montana's democratic processes.
Lobbying is defined as “the practice of promoting or opposing the introduction or enactment of legislation before the legislature or legislators” (MCA 5-7-102(11)). Individuals who engage in these described activities may qualify as a lobbyist and be required to register as such.
Yes – anyone meeting the definition of lobbyist is required to register, and that information is available. Lobbyists and principals have the choice to file either via a digital system or by submitting paper forms. You can find all digital filings from 2009-2019 in the electronic database. Paper filings are available on the 2009-2019 digitized hard copy platform.
You need to register as a lobbyist if:
Step 1: The lobbyist must register with the Commissioner of Political Practices by submitting a L-1 lobbyist license application (more details here). The L-1 application lists the name of the principal(s) the lobbyist will be working for, as well as the subject(s) or issue(s) the applicant will be lobbying for or against. A lobbyist must register within five business days after entering into an oral or written agreement to receive payment(s) of $2,600* or more or after receiving payment(s) of $2,600* or more for the purposes of lobbying the legislature.
Step 2: Pay the $150.00 lobbyist registration fee. This can be paid by either the principal on behalf of the lobbyist or the lobbyist personally. There is an option to apply for a waiver if the fee presents a hardship (more details here).
Step 3: The principal must file an L-2 Principal Authorization Statement or L-3 Principal Registration Application. This document authorizes the lobbyist to lobby on behalf of the principal.
You must register as a principal if you make payments or agrees to make payments exceeding $2,600* in a calendar year for the purpose of lobbying must complete and file a “Principal Authorization Statement.” Businesses, associations, government agencies and others who pay lobbyists to work on their behalf are also principals (See § 5-7-208 and 5-7-112, MCA; and § 44.12.202, ARM for more information.).
If you have questions on what type of lobbyist or principal registration form to complete, reference this Scenario Guide for Required Lobbying Forms for example scenarios.
To review Montana’s lobbying laws, see Title 5, Chapter 7 of the Montana Code Annotated (more details here) and the Lobbying Administrative Rules (ARM). You can also reference this 2019 Lobbyist Guide which goes over lobbyists' requirements.
A Montana lobbying license is valid for two years. The term is based on the legislative session year (odd-numbered year), and the license expires December 31st of the even-numbered year.
No. Under Montana law, certain government officials including local elected officials are exempted from the definition of lobbying and therefore aren’t required to register as lobbyists. The exemption is found in § 5-7-102(11)(b), MCA.
Yes. There is no exemption for state employees – state government comes under the same lobbying requirements as everyone else. Certain public officials, including elected or appointed state officials, fall under the same exemption as certain local government officials found in § 5-7-102(11)(b), MCA. The definition of public official in this instance is found in § 5-7-102(16)(a), MCA.
This 2019 State Employee Lobbying Guide covers lobbying details for state employees. Other government employees should reference this Government Employee Lobbying Guide.
Any “principal” who makes payments or agrees to make payments exceeding $2,600* in a calendar year for the purpose of lobbying must complete and file a “Principal Authorization Statement.” Businesses, associations, government agencies and others who pay lobbyists to work on their behalf are also principals (See § 5-7-208 and 5-7-112, MCA; and § 44.12.202, ARM for more information.).
To decide what Principal Authorization Statement you need to fill out, ask:
In Montana, there is no current regulation of what is typically understood to be grassroots lobbying. The term grassroots lobbying generally describes efforts by a business, political committee or other organization to encourage others, including the general public, to engage in direct communication with a public official to influence official action. Grassroots lobbying often involves letter writing or e-mail campaigns, mailings, phone banks, or other mass communication.
Generally not. Consider the following three examples – they describe what’s typically understood to be grassroots lobbying, and no reporting is required under current law for all but the fourth example below:
Example 1: Corporation X sends postcards to people urging them to contact legislators to either support or oppose proposed or pending legislation.
Example 2: Corporation X hires a consultant to go door-to-door and call individuals and retailers of Corporation X's product to urge them to contact legislators to support or oppose proposed or pending legislation.
Example 3: Organization Y-X contracts with a vendor of phone-banking services to call potential supporters or the public to urge them to contact legislators to support or oppose proposed or pending legislation.
Example 4:Organization Y-X sends pre-printed postcards to people, ready for mailing to specified legislators, urging them to merely sign their names and forward the postcards to the designated recipient. This next example illustrates a more direct form of lobbying and would therefore be a reportable expense subject to public disclosure under Montana law.
No. Lobbying reports must be received by 5:00 p.m. MST on filing day. Reports must be submitted electronically via the COPP website in the lobbyist database, or via mail (P.O. Box 202401, Helena, MT 59620-2401), via fax (406-444-1643), or delivered in person to the COPP office (1209 8th Avenue, Helena, MT). Please keep in mind that all reports MUST be received by the due date. The fee for late fillings is a $50 per day fine, up to $2,500.
Contact the Commissioner of Political Practices Office at (406) 444-2942, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the office at 1209 8th Avenue in Helena.
*The threshold amount that a lobbyist can earn will increase from the 2017 amount to $2,550 to the 2019 amount of $2,600, effective on January 12, 2019.
1209 8TH AVE
P.O. BOX 202401
HELENA, MT 59620-2401