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Ethics Reporter: Spending on legislative lobbying reaches all-time high of $9.53 million

The final numbers for the 2016 General Assembly are in, and lobbying spending hit an all-time high of $9.53 million, a nine percent increase over 2014, the most recent year in which there was a session that lasted 60 legislative days.

During the session, 698 businesses and organizations were registered to lobby, and that is also a record number, and a five percent increase over 2014.

The surge in spending was led by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent $149,002 on lobbying during the session, a 14 percent increase over 2014 and the most ever spent by the Chamber during a legislative session.


The Chamber’s website calls the 2016 session “one of the most successful the business community has seen,” citing “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 legislation.

The session’s second-leading spender was the Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA), which spent $131,472, a 26 percent increase over KHA’s spending in the 2014 session. This year, KHA lobbied in support of bills relating to the prompt payment of Medicaid claims, and establishing a medical review panel system, and lobbied against legislation raising the minimum wage and licensing the practice of midwifery.

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, KRF lobbied against the proposed constitutional amendment which would have allowed local governments to add a one 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 to crime victims or their families. Marsy’s Law spent $111,686 on lobbying, including $80,586 on advertising related to their lobbying effort.

After the top five spenders, the rest of the list of top-spending businesses and organizations includes: Kentucky Justice Association ($89,975); Kentucky League of Cities ($74,265); Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation ($72,851); Kentucky Bankers Association ($72,217); Norton Healthcare ($67,344); Anthem ($65,500); Humana ($56,419); Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives ($55,747); Century Aluminum ($55,729); Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($50,811); CSX ($50,679); Kentucky Association of School Administrators ($48,750); Baptist Health ($48,714); Biotechnology Innovation Organization ($47,758); Kentucky Coal and Mineral County Coalition ($46,143); Hewlett Packard ($46,000); and Buffalo Trace Distillery ($45,000).

Since 2014, several business and organizations dropped off the list of top spenders. Those include AT&T, which dropped its spending from $75,075 in 2014 to $41,313 in 2016; Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, which spent $67,546 in 2014 and $35,185 this year; Pew Charitable Trusts ($65,985 in 2014 and $19,200 in 2016); Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council ($57,051 in 2014 and $25,324 this year); United Parcel Service ($54,950 in 2014 and $22,500 in 2016); Boardwalk Pipeline Partners ($54,500 in 2014 and $11,475 in 2016); and AK Steel, which dropped from $53,658 to $34,941 this year.

Several employers quit lobbying after 2016 GA ends

Fourteen businesses and organizations which lobbied during the 2016 General Assembly terminated their lobbying registrations as the session ended and will no longer lobby in Kentucky.

Those are Appriss Inc.; Axcess Financial; BioDelivery Sciences International; Botany Bay; Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.; DNA Saves; Harshaw Trane; Innocence Project; KY LIFT, Inc.; Kentucky Recyclers Association; Peabody Energy; Shawnee Professional Services; Shelbyville Laundry; and Telrite Corp.

In May, Hosparus, Inc. and UCB, Inc. registered to lobby.

From the Legislative Ethics Commission

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One Comment

  1. Austin Ryan says:

    How did you all reach the $93.5 million number? Your first sentence, and the numbers from the General Assembly indicate $9.53 million.

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