FRANKFORT — Companies and advocacy groups spent $16.65 million lobbying Kentucky lawmakers last year, according to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.
Of that total, lobbyists were paid $14.3 million and spent $1.2 million on expenses, such as office rent, in a year when lawmakers were in a 60-day regular legislative session and a six-day special session.
Expenses for employers amounted to $902,000, and total spending for receptions, meals and events was $217,000.
The 2010 total is just below the $16.9 million that was spent on lobbying in 2008, the last year in which there was a 60-day session and a special session.
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In 2010, 15 businesses and organizations spent more than $100,000 each lobbying the General Assembly, according to the monthly newsletter of the ethics commission.
The leading spender for the year was Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, and owner of a significant interest in SABMiller, the beer-brewing company. Altria spent $357,433 in 2010, compared with about $248,000 in 2009.
Consumer Healthcare Products Association was the second-leading spender for the year, putting out $343,377 for its lobbying efforts, including more than $300,000 for phone banking. CHPA represents manufacturers and distributors of non-prescription over-the-counter medicines.
In this year's legislative session, which resumes Tuesday, the organization is sponsoring an advertising campaign about legislation that would require a prescription to buy pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. The drugs are now used in a variety of over-the-counter cold medicines, but they can be used illegally to produce methamphetamine.
After being the leading spender in 2009, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce dropped to third place on the 2010 list, spending $211,935. The organization's total was down from the $229,000 that it spent the year before.
University Health Care, the operator of the Passport Health Plan, which manages health care for the poor and disabled in Jefferson and 15 other counties, was the next-highest spender in 2010. UHC spent $190,840, almost all of it on lobbyist compensation.
After a review of Passport by state Auditor Crit Luallen, who found excessive spending on travel and entertainment, high salaries and poor oversight, UHC reduced its lobbying presence in the state Capitol from 13 lobbyists in 2010 to two lobbyists in 2011.
The other organizations and businesses which spent more than $100,000 each on lobbying last year include: Kentucky Medical Association ($133,274); Houchens Industries ($132,00); Kentucky Retail Federation ($127,803); Keeneland Association ($121,661); Kentucky Hospital Association ($120,113); CSX Corp. ($116,405); Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation ($109,373); Kentucky Justice Association ($105,543); Kentucky Education Association ($105,353); Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($103,437); and Res-Care Inc. ($100,289).