The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday announced its endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, becoming the third major business group this week to come out in support of the deal.

From the Post’s David Nakamura: “The backing from the nation’s largest business coalition is a boost to the administration’s efforts to rally the private sector behind the deal, which represents the largest regional trade pact in U.S. history. The Chamber joins the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable in issuing formal endorsements this week.”

New in 2016: Seven states passed lobbying and gift laws that take effect this year.

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  • In Connecticut, the threshold for how much an individual can make on lobbying activities before having to register with the state is being raised from $2,000 to $3,000 per year.
  • In Kansas, the lobbying registration threshold is now $1,000, up from $100.
  • A new Nevada law requires financial disclosure of an “educational or informational meeting, event or trip” by lobbyists and legislators and prevents lobbyists from giving gifts of any amount to state legislators.
  • New York is enacting a new six-month program to bring non-filing lobbyists and lobbying entities in compliance with registration rules. It targets those who should have registered dating back to 2006.
  • Oregon has added an exemption to gift laws for the cost of admission, food and drinks for public officials who attend meetings held by an organization, if the official is there representing the state or local government.
  • In Texas, individuals who spend no more than 5 percent or 26 hours each quarter on lobbying activities are not required to register as a lobbyist, even if he or she reaches the $1,000 compensation threshold for registration.
  • In Virginia, an ethics advisory council is taking over responsibility for lobbying disclosure filings.

Headlines

Gun lobby vows to fight Obama executive actions: Gun Owners of America plans to mount legal challenges to the gun control actions announced Tuesday by President Obama, and will urge Congress to cut off funding for the proposed increases in staffing for background checks. The NRA sharply criticized the action as well, but did not detail specific plans to block funding or implementation of the proposals. See my story here.

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Aetna leaves health insurance lobby AHIP: Aetna, the nation’s third-largest health insurance company, announced Tuesday it is leaving the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), report Peter Sullivan and Megan Wilson in The Hill. The move follows the June departure from the group of the nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealthcare.

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How the national solar lobby passed the investment tax credit: Starting in 2013, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the industry’s national lobbying group in Washington, quietly began building a multimillion-dollar campaign in the lead-up to Congress’ consideration of the tax credit, reports Stephen Lacey in Greentech Media. The group raised member dues and tapped a $750,000 line of credit to fund the effort.

Comings and goings

Lobbyist Leslie Belcher, a longtime friend to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and wife Janna Ryan, has been named managing director in Steptoe’s lobbying group. Belcher and Janna Ryan both worked for retired Rep. Bill Brewster (D-Okla.) and she was a bridesmaid in the couple’s wedding.

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Carlton Greene, who was the top lawyer for the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has joined Crowell & Moring.

New lobbying contracts

Synchrony Financial has hired Glover Park Group to lobby on tax policies and tax reform.

Restoration Systems has hired Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh PC (formerly Hoffman, Silver, Gilman & Blasco PC) to conduct congressional meetings on the USFWS Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation Program.

Brown-Forman Corp. has hired Becker Law Firm to lobby on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, Sec. 906 (Drawback and Refunds); Customs and Border Protection’s denial of drawback of taxes paid to Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Endosec LLC has hired C. Baker Consulting, Inc. to lobby on funding for advanced encryption initiatives in the FY 2017 Department of Defense Authorization Act and FY 2017 Defense Appropriation Act.

Citigroup Washington, Inc. has hired Barnett Sivon & Natter to lobby on financial regulatory reform.

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