Wisconsin’s Limited Real Time Lobbying Disclosure

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Wisconsin like the federal government and every other state has lobbyists who contact lawmakers about legislation.  However, Wisconsin has a different way of having those lobbyists report their activities.

When a lobbyists makes first contact regarding a piece of legislation or rule they have 15 days (pdf) to report that contact through a form on the state’s Government Accountability Board’s Web site. This form is then verified and posted online in real time.  Just the first contact is reported this way, lobbyists fill out more detailed reports about the rest of their interactions with lawmakers every 6 months.

Even though this is not nearly what we would like to see in terms of real time lobbying reporting it is a great first step.  Wisconsin demonstrates that lobbying disclosure of contacts with lawmakers can be processed and posted online in real time.  If lobbyists are already conditioned to report first contacts online relatively quickly then how much harder could it be for them to do it more frequently and with all contacts not just the first one.  It would be interesting to see if Wisconsin can actually be pushed to shorten the 15 day grace period and have lobbyists report the rest of their interactions more frequently then 6 months.

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