By John Schaaf, Executive Director, Legislative Ethics Commission
More than $14.5 million has been spent on lobbying in the first eight months of 2017, a five percent increase from the $13.7 million spent during the same period in 2015, the most recent year with a 30-day regular session.
The number of businesses and organizations employing lobbyists also continues to rise. There are 704 businesses and organizations employing lobbyists, four percent more than this time last year. There are 605 registered lobbyists, a seven percent increase since last year.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is the top spender so far this year, reporting $240,440, or 13 percent more than the Chamber spent in the comparable period of 2016, even though this year’s session was only half as long as last year’s.
Altria remains the second-leading spender, reporting $200,036, a slight increase over last year’s spending. The other spenders in the top five are: Kentucky Hospital Association ($136,336); Marsy’s Law for All ($123,135); and Kentucky Justice Association ($122,280).
Other top spending businesses and organizations include: Anthem Inc. ($118,500); Kentucky League of Cities ($113,908); U.S. Justice Action Network ($110,604); Kentucky Retail Federation ($97,010); Molina Healthcare, Inc. ($86,400); Humana ($84,497); AT&T ($83,688); Kentucky Medical Association ($79,656); Kentucky Bankers Association ($76,856); Greater Louisville, Inc. ($76,284); Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation ($70,449); CSX Corporation ($70,335); Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($70,328); EQT Corporation ($67,506); and LifePoint Hospitals, Inc. ($65,600).
Since 1994, the first full year of lobbying reporting, Kentucky lobbying spending has more than tripled from $6.4 million to the 2016’s all-time high of $20.8 million. More than 90 percent of spending is compensation paid to lobbyists.
Four sign up to lobby; 19 terminate
Businesses and organizations recently registered to lobby the General Assembly are: Institute for Justice, an Arlington, Virginia-based 501(c)(3) organization and law firm that litigates cases in support of school choice and against state and local government regulations; Kentucky BlueGrass Cannabis, a recently-organized LLC which will lobby for medical cannabis; Retirement Security Initiative, a California-based organization that recently supported a Michigan plan to put new teachers into 401(k) retirement plans rather than defined benefit plans; and Verde Technologies, which sells drug deactivation and disposal pouches that can be used to dispose of unused prescription drugs.
Employers that terminated registration, and are no longer lobbying are: ADP – Automatic Data Processing; American Massage Therapy Association/Ky. Chapter; Apollo Education Group, Inc.; Black Hawk Mining, LLC; Blue & Co., LLC; Cal-Tex Protective Coatings, Inc.; ChanceLight; Codell Construction; Eastern Kentucky University; Family & Children’s Place; Indiana Health Information Exchange; Joe Foss Institute; Kentucky Council of Churches; Level 3 Communications, Inc.; Mulzer Crushed Stone; Newtown Springs; Public Consulting Group; Southern Health Partners; and UC Health.
Baugh, Huddleston named to Legislative Ethics Commission
The nine-member Legislative Ethics Commission has two new members. Former State Representative Sheldon Baugh of Russellville was appointed to the Commission by Senate President Robert Stivers. Mr. Baugh served in the House of Representatives from January 1995 to January 2008, and he served as a Magistrate on the Logan County Fiscal Court from 1977 to 1981.
Former legislative staff member Phil Huddleston of Frankfort was appointed to the Commission by House Speaker Jeff Hoover. Mr. Huddleston served the General Assembly for more than 30 years in a variety of roles, including as Assistant Director for Constituent Services, and as chief of staff to the President of the Senate.