In Ohio, a lobbyist is a person who is compensated to advocate the interests of another before Ohio’s legislative and executive branches of government, and the state’s five retirement systems. The person or entity who compensates a lobbyist to advocate on its behalf is referred to as an employer.
Based on the subject matter a lobbyist is attempting to influence, Ohio law categorizes lobbyists as either: legislative agents, executive agency lobbyists, or retirement system lobbyists.
A “legislative agent” is any individual, except a member of the general assembly, a member of the staff of the general assembly, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer of state, or auditor of state, who is engaged during at least a portion of the individual’s time to actively advocate as one of the individual’s main purposes.
An “executive agency lobbyist” is any person engaged to influence executive agency decisions or to conduct executive agency lobbying activity as one of the person’s main purposes on a regular and substantial basis.
A “retirement system lobbyist” is any person engaged to influence retirement system decisions or to conduct retirement system lobbying activity as one of the person’s main purposes on a regular and substantial basis.
The relationship between an employer and its lobbyist is called an engagement. Every engagement must be registered electronically with the Office of the Legislative Inspector General through the Ohio Lobbying Activity Center (OLAC) at http://www2.jlec-olig.state.oh.us/olac/ within 10 days of the engagement. Legislative agents must file separate reports for each employer, but employers must file only one report that includes all employed legislative agent. Each engagement requires a $25 fee, and once registered, is active until terminated by the lobbyist or the employer, or until December 31st of an even-numbered year.
Each legislative agent and employer is also required to electronically file an Activity and Expenditure Report (AER) through OLAC by May 31st (to disclose activity from January 1 – April 20), September 30th (to disclose activity from May 1 – August 31), and January 31st (to disclose activity from September 1 – December 31).