Chapter 32 – Office of Governmental Relations
The Office of Governmental Relations, under the supervision of the Office of the Vice President for External Relations, oversees and coordinates University relationships with national and state elected officials, their staffs, and with governmental agencies. The Office of Governmental Relations has a significant role in facilitating The University of Iowa's strategic plan to build strong ties with external constituencies by organizing programs designed to provide members of the public with information about regulatory and legislative issues of importance to the University and/or to encourage public support for the University. Activities include coordination with the State Relations Officer for the Board of Regents; advising the President and other University officials regarding state and federal legislative strategies and providing assessments of proposed legislation; participating in University outreach efforts; working with the Executive Vice President and Provost, vice presidents, and directors of major administrative units in development of budget requests and legislative initiatives; managing responses to legislative inquiries and requests for information; and coordinating contacts with state and federal officials, other state institutions of higher education, and various other entities having relationships with The University of Iowa in the area of governmental relations.
The Board of Regents is solely responsible for legislative policy making for the Regent universities. Under its overall governance authority, it designates the State Relations Officer an organizes the State Relations Officer activities of the universities. These activities are vital to the continued academic and fiscal well-being of the institutions and public higher education in Iowa. Such activities involve complex questions of public policy, regental responsibility, institutional objectives, and budgetary considerations. At The University of Iowa, the designated State Relations Officer is incorporated in The University of Iowa Office of Governmental Relations. All state and federal legislative activities are to be coordinated through the Office of Governmental Relations.
State Relations Officers are employees of the Board of Regents. They are responsible for transmitting and explaining policies of the Board of Regents and the universities to the General Assembly and other state officials. The State Relations Officers conduct their duties under the direction of the Board of Regents. In addition, each representative has special responsibilities to their designated university. These include explanation and communication of board policies which relate specifically to that university; communication of information concerning the particular mission, program, strengths, needs, and goals of the institution; and advocacy consistent with the accomplishment of the institutional objectives approved by the board. The development of legislative strategy is the responsibility of the board and the board president in conjunction and consultation with the Regents' State Relations Officers and the executive director, and the university presidents.
The expertise or viewpoints of individual faculty, staff, and students are frequently essential in developing assessments of the potential impact on the University of proposed policy and legislation. In this context, when consistent with Regent institutional objectives, the staff of the Office of Governmental Relations may facilitate direct communication to elected officials by University faculty, staff, and students. While faculty, staff, and students are also free to communicate individually with elected representatives about their personal views, it is important that any communication which is not coordinated through the Office of Governmental Relations be carefully framed so as not to imply that the individual is communicating an institutional position or viewpoint on behalf of the University (see II-33 Use of University Name).
Files of legislation and related materials for the current legislative biennium are maintained in the Office of Governmental Relations. Questions about the application of policy and The University of Iowa legislative program may be directed to the Office of Governmental Relations.
- General. The following outlines regulations and restrictions on lobbying by public employees as imposed by Chapter 68B of the Iowa Code. The outline is not a substitute for the law, but is intended to guide and put University employees on notice of their responsibilities under the law.
- Definitions. The following definition of lobbyist should be consulted to determine whether you are considered a lobbyist or lobbyist's client under the law.
- A lobbyist:
- is an individual who receives compensation for the purpose of acting directly to affect legislation or a rule;
- is a designated representative of an organization which has as its purpose affecting legislation or a rule;
- represents a government entity for which the person serves or is employed as designated representative for the purpose of affecting legislation or a rule; or
- lobbies for himself or herself and expends more than $1,000 per calendar year.
- The following individuals are not lobbyists under the law:
- political party officials;
- news media;
- elected government officials while performing the duties of office;
- persons who give testimony or provide information to the General Assembly, at public hearings of state agencies or who provide information or assistance at the request of public officials or employees (Note: this excludes most faculty, staff, and administrators from the definition of a lobbyist);
- agency officials and employees while engaged in activities within the agency they serve or with another agency one's agency collaborates with on projects;
- staff of the United States Congress or the Iowa General Assembly;
- persons who are members of organizations who are not paid compensation or not designated by the organization as a lobbyist; and
- persons who submit data, views, and arguments in a presentation to the administrative rules committee.
- A client: a private person or a state, federal, or local government entity that pays compensation to or designates an individual to be a lobbyist.
- A lobbyist:
- Purpose. The law primarily imposes registration and reporting restrictions on lobbyists and their clients the purpose of which is to better regulate lobbying activities.
- Registration requirements. All lobbyists must register on or before the date their lobbying activities begin. A University employee is prohibited from lobbying on behalf of the University, unless the employee's registration includes a statement designating the employee as its representative. Executive Branch lobbyists must register with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign and Disclosure Board. Legislative Branch lobbyists file with the Secretary of the Senate or the Chief Clerk of the House. Legislative Branch registrations expire at the beginning of each session. Executive branch registrations expire at the end of each calendar year. Changes must be registered within ten days once known to the lobbyist. The lobbyist may cancel the registration if service concludes before the expiration.
- Reporting requirements for lobbyists. As applied to University faculty and staff, lobbyists must report the names of clients, contributions to candidates for State Office during the months the General Assembly is not in session, contribution recipients, and the lobbyist's expenditures for direct lobbying. Legislative lobbyists must file reports not later than twenty-five days after the end of each month during the legislative session, and thereafter by July 31, October 31, and January 31. Executive Branch lobbyists must file reports by April 30, July 31, October 31, and January 31 for the preceding calendar quarter.
- Reporting requirements for clients of lobbyists. Clients of lobbyists must report information regarding salaries, fees, and retainers paid for lobbying during the preceding six months. Reports are due January 31 and July 31. The January 31 report must provide cumulative totals of reimbursements, salaries, fees, and retainers for the preceding year. Clients of Executive Branch lobbyists must file reports with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Board. Legislative Branch clients report to the Secretary of the Senate or the Chief Clerk of the House.
- Registering as a lobbyist. Amendments made in 1993 exclude from the lobbyist definition "persons whose activities are limited to appearances to give testimony or provide information or assistance at sessions of committees of the general assembly or at public hearings of state agencies or who are giving testimony or providing information or assistance at the request of public officials or employees." This eliminates the need for most faculty, staff, and administrators to register. However, those employees whose lobbying activities fall outside of this exclusion must comply with the registration requirements outlined in II-34.4.
- Loans prohibited. A public official or state employee may not seek or accept loans from a lobbyist nor may a lobbyist offer loans to state officials or employees, unless made in the ordinary course of business.
- Ban on certain lobbying activities. Section 68B.5A of the Iowa Code prohibits lobbying by executive or administrative heads or deputy or executive or administrative heads of the University for two years after service. The law also prohibits compensation of a former state employee for two years after employment ceases in connection with any matter in which the person was "directly concerned and personally participated during employment."
- Enforcement. Civil and Criminal Penalties: Civil and criminal penalties may be imposed for violating Iowa Code Chapter 68B. The Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board administers Chapter 68B and processes civil complaints. It may impose a maximum civil penalty of $2,000 for each violation, and/or recommend removal or suspension from office. A criminal conviction of the lobbying regulations of Chapter 68B is a serious misdemeanor for which a penalty of imprisonment for one year and a $1,000 fine may be imposed.
University resources, including the University's electronic address (email, web) shall not be used for 1) personal political activities, including directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf or in opposition to any candidate for elective office, or for 2) lobbying of public officials. For purposes of this policy, "lobbying" does not include individual faculty or staff sharing or providing information or opinions with public officials on matters of policy within their areas of expertise. Faculty and staff consulting that is in conformity with University guidelines is permissible. Only the Office of Governmental Relations may use University resources for programs designed to inform members of the public with information about regulatory and legislative issues of importance to the University and/or to encourage public support for the University.