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Lobbying spending near $5 million in the first half of 2016 session

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 since 2014.

The uptick in lobbying spending may be partly attributed to the increased size of the state budget, compared with the two-year budget adopted in 2014. For example, House and Senate versions of the state's budget for the next two years include $24.9 billion in federal funds, which is $4.1 billion or 16.5 percent more in federal funds than the last budget.

House and Senate versions of this session's budget also include about $2 billion more in the General Fund than the budget adopted in 2014.

Most of the increase in federal funds is attributable to increased Medicaid benefits which are paid through state government to health care providers and managed care organizations. The 2014-16 budget included $12.1 billion in federal funds for Medicaid benefits, while this year's House and Senate budget versions include $16.9 billion, a 28.5 percent increase in federal funds to pay providers for services covered by Medicaid.

In the first two months of 2016, lobbying spending by health care providers, health insurance companies, and other health-related businesses and organizations totaled about $1.26 million, which is 26 percent of all lobbying spending, and a 30 percent increase over health-related lobbying spending in the same period in 2014.

The biggest spending lobbying interests in the first half of the 2016 session were: Kentucky Chamber of Commerce ($71,456); Altria ($69,075); Kentucky Hospital Association ($65,799); Kentucky Retail Federation ($59,965); Kentucky Justice Association ($53,675); Marsy's Law for All ($44,498); Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation ($37,822); Kentucky Bankers Association ($36,160); Kentucky League of Cities ($35,145); Norton Healthcare ($34,214); Anthem Inc. ($34,000); Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives ($31,931); Kentucky Association of School Administrators ($31,650); Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($30,677); and Humana Inc. ($29,767).

Complete reports of lobbying spending are available at the Legislative Ethics Commission's website: http://klec.ky.gov/reports/

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