FRANKFORT — Business interests and advocacy groups spent $8.8 million lobbying the Kentucky legislature in 2012, a new record.
The money spent by lobbyists and their employers to influence legislation during the 2012 General Assembly, which ended in April, surpassed the previous record of $8.4 million during the 2010 legislative session, according to information released Thursday by the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.
The commission oversees the registration of lobbyists in Kentucky and tracks lobbyist spending. The totals reflect spending for the first four months of 2012.
The biggest spender was Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group that represents the over-the-counter drug industry. The group spent $486,053, a record for a single employer in one legislative session. The group was fighting legislation that would require Kentuckians to get a prescription for cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.
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After resistance from the drug industry, the Senate and House eventually passed a compromise bill that would lower the monthly amount of pseudoephedrine a person could buy in pill or tablet form from 9 grams to 7.2 grams and impose a 24-gram limit for the year.
A generic box of pseudo ephedrine with 48 pills, each with a 30-milligram dosage, contains 1.44 grams of the medicine.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association spent the bulk of its money on media campaigns, including phone banks and advertising to drum up opposition to the legislation, according to the ethics panel.
In total, 635 lobbyists registered during the session and were paid $7.5 million by companies and other organizations.
Consumer Healthcare Products Association far outspent the second-highest employer, the Kentucky Hospital Association, which spent $134,473 during the session. Rounding out the top 10 were the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, $121,525; Altria Client Services, $104,729; AT&T, $87,441; Kentucky Medical Association, $84,880; Kentucky Retail Federation, $78,060; Kentucky Education Association, $74,543; Kentucky Association of Healthcare Facilities, $73,337; and Kentucky Bankers Association, $72,320.