The Legislative Ethics Newsletter published by the Legislative Ethics Commission, came out on Friday morning, the 10th day of July. In the top story entitled “Lobby spending by interest groups”, the reported “In the first four months of 2009, lobbyists reported spending $0 on food or beverages provided to individual legislators. Likewise, in 2007, there was no spending by lobbyists on individual meals for legislators or family members. In 2008, lobbyists reported spending just $81.83 on individual meals or beverages.”
Don’t get too excited, though. Spending by lobbyists is still big. The Legislative Ethics Newsletter breaks down spending for the short session:
“As of the end of the last reporting period, which includes the 2009 Regular Session but not the special session in June, health care interests spent $1,358,578 lobbying the General Assembly.
The total for health care lobbying includes amounts spent by a wide array of groups, including hospitals (about $289,000), pharmaceutical interests (about $186,000), mental health interests ($83,421), and provider groups such as the Kentucky Medical Association ($63,500) and chiropractors ($36,116), but does not include most insurance industry lobbying.
After health care, there was a steep drop to the second highest spending interest groups, which were those lobbying on energy issues and utilities, such as coal, natural gas and electricity. The energy and utility groups spent a total of $561,896, less than half the amount spent on health care.
The energy groups spent about $326,559 with coal interests leading the way by spending $96,170, including $41,828 spent by Coal Operators & Associates, Inc., a Pikeville-based group of coal mining, preparation, and transportation businesses.
Utilities spent $235,337, led by the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, which spent $28,515. E.On U.S., which owns Louisville Gas & Electric, Kentucky Utilities Co., and Western Kentucky Energy spent $26,749, and Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, a natural gas producer headquartered in Oklahoma City, spent $24,000.
Racing and gaming interests spent $418,783 on lobbying in the first four months of 2009. Horse racing organizations and industry support groups spent $267,120, led by the Kentucky Equine Education Partnership at $50,000, the Keeneland Association ($45,539), and Kentucky Downs, LLC ($38,000).
Gaming interests spent $151,663 in early 2009, including $24,000 from International Game Technology, $18,000 from GTECH Corporation, and $20,000 from Columbia Sussex, the Crestview Hills company which manages hotels and casinos.
Spending reports for lobbying during the May to August period are due by September 15, and these reports will include spending during the June special session when racing and gaming issues were on the agenda. (emphasis added)