Short Session lobbying hits $5 million

Legislative EthicsNews

Short Session lobbying hits $5 million  | General Assembly 2019, lobbyists, lobbying, Chamber of Commerce, ethics, money

Lobbying spending in Kentucky continues to hit all-time highs, as a record $5.02 million was spent in the first two months of the 30-day, odd-year session of the General Assembly. That's eight percent more than the amount spent during the same period in 2017, the most recent short session.

The robust lobbying spending follows last year's record $23.17 million, spent by lobbying groups pursuing their interests with the General Assembly.

In the 25 years since the first full year of reporting, annual lobbying spending has increased 258%, easily outpacing inflation, and showing the growing emphasis that businesses and organizations place on having a lobbying presence in the State Capitol.

There are 741 employer businesses and organizations lobbying the General Assembly, with 624 lobbyists working for those employers.

So far in 2019, the top-spending lobbying organization is the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which has spent $76,968, down about $11,000 from the same period in 2017. However, other top-spending groups all boosted their spending over the last odd-year session.

For example, the second-leading spender Altria (Philip Morris) spent $69,641 in the first part of 2019, an 18% increase from 2017; Kentucky Hospital Association's spending ($69,615) is up 28% from two years ago; Kentucky Bankers Association ($59,990) has spent 40% more this year working for a bill that could save banks $56 million a year in taxes; and Greater Louisville, Inc. ($42,470) has spent 25% more than in 2017.

The rest of the top 10 spenders are: National Council of State Boards of Nursing ($38,611, including $24,600 on advertising), which came back to Kentucky after a two-year absence to lobby for a bill allowing advanced practice registered nurses to prescribe controlled substances; Kentucky League of Cities ($38,119); Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund ($38,096, including $18,200 on advertising); Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives ($35,574), up 27% from 2017; and Kentucky Retail Federation ($36,100).

Other on the top 20 list include: Kentucky Justice Association ($34,415); Johnson & Johnson ($31,500); Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation ($30,812); Kentucky Medical Association ($30,112); Kentucky Credit Union League ($29,263); Humana ($27,514); CSX Corporation ($26,117); Kentucky Education Association ($25,913); Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($25,657); and Anthem, Inc. and Its Affiliates ($25,339).

Final spending reports for the 2019 General Assembly are due by the close of business on Monday, April 15. Following that, a report is due by May 15, then September 15.