Companies and special interest groups spent an all-time high of $9.53 million lobbying Kentucky’s 2016 General Assembly, the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission reported Tuesday.
That’s a 9 percent increase over lobbyist spending in 2014, the most recent 60-day lawmaking session.
During this year’s session, a record 698 businesses and organizations registered to lobby. That is 5 percent more than in 2014.
The surge in spending was led by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent $149,002 during the session, a 14 percent increase over 2014 and the most ever spent by the chamber during a legislative session, according to the ethics commission.
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The commission noted that the Chamber’s website calls the 2016 session “one of the most successful the business community has seen.” It noted “pro-business legislative victories” on bills relating to public-private partnerships to finance government projects and services, and additional money for the state’s pension system, along with the defeat of “anti-business tax reform” and renewable energy
The session’s second-leading spender was the Kentucky Hospital Association, which spent $131,472, a 26 percent increase over KHA’s spending in the 2014 session.
The next leading spender was Altria (Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco), which spent $119,905, a 23 percent drop from 2014, when Altria was the top spender while lobbying against raising the cigarette tax, against new taxes on electronic cigarettes, and in support of a bill banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
The Kentucky Retail Federation (KRF) spent $117,941, which was a 44 percent increase over the group’s 2014 spending.
This year, the retail federation lobbied against the proposed constitutional amendment which would have allowed local governments to add a 1 percent local sales tax.
Another top spender was a first-time lobbying organization, Marsy’s Law for All, lobbying in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment to provide increased formal involvement in criminal proceedings for crime victims or their families.
Marsy’s Law spent $111,686 on lobbying, including $80,586 on advertising related to their lobbying effort.
Since 2014, several business and organizations dropped off the list of top spenders, the commission said. Those include: AT&T, $75,075 in 2014 to $41,313 in 2016; Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, $67,546 in 2014 to $35,185 in 2016; Pew Charitable Trusts, $65,985 in 2014 to $19,200 in 2016; Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council, $57,051 in 2014 to $25,324 in 2016; and United Parcel Service, $54,950 in 2014 to $22,500 in 2016.