A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ethics Reporter: New, expanding companies received $173 million in incentives from state in 2017

In the recently completed fiscal year, Kentucky state government gave final approval to 334 companies to receive $173.6 million after the companies promised to locate or expand in the state. In FY 2016-17, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) approved 49 of those companies to receive over $1 million in incentives, some by direct payment and some by allowing companies to retain...

Ethics Reporter: State government contracts worth $2.4 billion issued halfway through budget cycle

Halfway through its 2016-18 budget cycle, Kentucky state government has issued $2.4 billion in contracts. That’s nearly identical to the amount of money allocated for contracts in the first year of the prior biennium, so the state appears to be on track to match the $3.7 billion spent on contracts in the most recent two-year budget cycle. According to information from the Legislature’s Government...

Lobby spending exceeded $6.9 million during 2017 session; money total matches record set in 2015

Lobbyists and their employers reported spending $6.98 million in the 2017 session of the General Assembly. The total matches the record spent in the 2015 session, the most recent 30-day odd-year session. In the past year, the number of lobbying organizations has increased by nine percent, as Kentucky follows the national trend toward more state lobbying by businesses and interest groups, and more...

Ethics Reporter: Lobbyists spent a record $2.1 million during first month of legislative session

Although the General Assembly met for only five days in January to begin the 2017 session, the $2.1 million in lobbying spending broke the spending record for the first month of an odd-year legislative session. This year’s total is a 14 percent increase from the $1.8 million spent in the first month of 2015, the previous odd-year session. January 2017 spending almost reached the total spent in...

Ethics Reporter: State has approved over $170 million in taxpayer assistance to businesses

In the first 10 months of this year, Kentucky state government has approved more than $170 million in taxpayer assistance to businesses that are locating, expanding, or training employees in the state, according to the Legislative Ethics Commission. The biggest award approved so far this year by the Kentucky Economic Development and Finance Authority is $14 million for Clinical Trial Services, Inc....

Ethics Reporter: Legislative Ethics Commission approves use of social media fundraising

The Legislative Ethics Commission has approved a formal opinion (OLEC 16-01) responding to a question of whether it is permissible under the Code of Legislative Ethics for a legislator or legislative candidate to use crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe in conjunction with social networking websites to raise funds for legislative races. It is permissible under the Code of Legislative Ethics for legislators...

Ethics Reporter: Spending on lobbying continues upward trend, shows 12 percent increase

Lobbying spending in Kentucky continues its upward trend, with almost $5 million spent on lobbying in the first two months of the 2016 General Assembly, a 12 percent increase over the same period in 2014 (the most recent 60-day budget session). The number of businesses and organizations which are lobbying also climbed to a record high, as 696 employers registered to lobby, a five percent increase...

Ethics Reporter: Nearly 700 outlets lobbying General Assembly during first month, spending $2.3 million

A total of 658 businesses and organizations were registered to lobby in the first month of the 2016 General Assembly and together with their legislative agents, they spent over $2.3 million on their lobbying efforts in the first four weeks of the session. The top lobbying spenders for the month were: Kentucky Hospital Association $33,714; Kentucky Chamber of Commerce $31,856; Kentucky Retail Federation...

Ethics Reporter: Survey shows Kentucky’s ethics, accountability laws among strongest in the nation

Special to KyForward With changes enacted by the 2014 General Assembly, Kentucky has some of the nation’s strongest government ethics and accountability laws, according to a national survey of state laws. Only three states – Alaska, California and Connecticut – received higher grades than Kentucky in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, a data-driven assessment of all 50 state governments...

Millions of dollars in state money made available to help Kentucky’s bourbon industry grow, expand

Special to KyForward As the popularity of Kentucky bourbon has grown, distillery production has increased and more tourists are interested in visiting the state’s distilleries. In response, state government is making millions of dollars available to distilleries to help build and expand to increase production and provide visitors’ centers at the distilleries, according to the Ethics Reporter,...

Ethics Reporter: Advertising spurs 11 percent increase in spending during 30-day session

Special to KyForward   Lobbyists and their employers reported spending about 11 percent more in the recently completed 2015 General Assembly than was spent during the previous 30-day session, held in 2013. This year, $6.98 million was reported, compared to $6.2 million spent two years ago.   The jump in lobbying spending is largely attributed to advertising spending. However, almost all...

Ethics Reporter: Over $4M spent on lobbying in first two months; advertising now reported

Special to KyForward   About $4.2 million was spent on lobbying during the first two months of the 2015 General Assembly. In addition, businesses and organizations spent $574,000 on advertising in support or opposition to legislation pending before the legislature.   Under a law passed by the 2014 General Assembly, this is the first session in which employers are required to report lobbying-related...

Ethics Reporter: Nearly $1.8M spent on lobbying in Jan.; record number registered

Special to KyForward   Almost $1.8 million was spent on Kentucky lobbying in the first month of 2015. Although the General Assembly met for only a few days to convene the 2015 session, many employers pay their lobbyists on a monthly basis throughout the year, so spending for those employers is relatively consistent over the 12-month period.   The top spending employers in the first month...

Ethics Reporter: Lobbyists spent record
amount during 2014 General Assembly

Special to KyForward   A record-breaking total of $18.4 million was spent on lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly in 2014, a 3.2 percent increase over the previous spending mark of $17.8 million, set in 2012, and a 34 percent increase in the 10 years since $12.1 million was spent in 2004.   In the largest spending category, $16.8 million was spent last year by employers compensating lobbyists,...

Ethics Reporter: Millions in tax breaks go unused as businesses fail to collect offers

Special to KyForward   Three of the largest private projects approved for tax breaks from Kentucky state government are “inactive” and apparently will not be built or receive any tax dollars.   The projects were approved under the Incentives for Energy Independence Act, adopted by the General Assembly in the August 2007 Special Session “to induce the location of innovative energy-related...

Ethics Reporter: $313M in tax incentives OK’d so far in 2014; GE gets largest package

Special to KyForward   In the first nine months of 2014, Kentucky’s Economic Development Finance Authority approved 230 tax incentive packages for private sector projects.   If all the projects are completed as planned, businesses will keep over $313 million they would otherwise pay to state government in taxes. One hundred thirty four of the projects worth $148 million received final...

Ethics Reporter: Lobbying spending hits all-time high during first eight months of 2014

Special to KyForward   Businesses and organizations lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly spent a record $13.6 million during the first eight months of 2014. Compared to the previous record of $13.2 million spent in the same period in 2012, lobbying interests are on track to set a new yearly spending record in Kentucky by topping the 2012 total of $17.8 million.   If, as expected, year-end...

Ethics Reporter: Many lobbying interests
help fund state campaigns through PACs

Special to KyForward   Many businesses and organizations that lobby in Kentucky participate in funding state political campaigns through a variety of channels, including federal- and state-registered political action committees.   From the start of Kentucky’s current election cycle through June 30, federal and out-of-state PACs contributed a total of $186,450 to the four caucus campaign...

Ethics Reporter: Lobbying spending in state continues its upward trend in 2014 session

Special to KyForward   Lobbying spending in Kentucky continued its upward trend in the 2014 General Assembly, although a $470,000 drop-off in spending by 2012’s leading spender made this year’s total ($8.7 million) slightly less than the record set in 2012 ($8.8 million), the last 60-day session.   During the recently-completed session, there were 662 businesses and organizations registered...

Ethics Reporter: Health care lobbying tops spending list first two months of 2014 session

Special to KyForward   In the first two months of the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly, 661 businesses and organizations spent about $4.3 million lobbying the Legislature. The largest spending industry sectors include health care, education, insurance, energy, tobacco, local governments, banking and finance, utilities, and economic development organizations.   Businesses and organizations...