‘Advertising’ was for the support or defeat of legislation during the session
By John Schaaf, Kentucky Legislation Ethics Commission
Kentucky lobbying spending continued at a record pace in the 2019 General Assembly. Reports filed after the end of the session show that $7.55 million was spent on lobbying during the odd-year, 30-day session. That total was eight percent higher than 2017 and 2015, which both came in at $6.9 million.
During the session, 736 businesses and organizations employed 603 lobbyists, tracking the national trend toward more state lobbying by businesses and interest groups, and more money spent to influence state-based policies.
As an illustration of that upward trend, the amount spent in the first three months of 2019 exceeds the amount spent during the entire 12 months of 2001, the first year in which Kentucky held an odd-year short session.
As it was in the 2018 session, the top spending lobbying organization this year was the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent $112,740 in January, February, and March.
The second-biggest spender in the 2019 session was the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which has previously lobbied very little in Kentucky. In the 2019 session however, NCSBN jumped to the top of the list after spending $103,720 lobbying on legislation to change requirements for advanced practice registered nurses to prescribe controlled substances.
The other top five spenders include: Altria/Philip Morris ($98,762); Kentucky Bankers Association ($98,735), which successfully lobbied to repeal the Bank Franchise Tax, saving banks $50 million per year in state taxes; and Kentucky Hospital Association ($94,596).
The rest of the top ten includes: Greater Louisville, Inc. ($62,455); Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives ($62,444); Kentucky Credit Union League ($58,078); Kentucky Retail Federation ($54,128); and Kentucky League of Cities ($53,461).
Lobbying firms spent nearly $270,000 on advertising
Within the last few years, registered lobbying groups have had to report how much of their expenses were for advertising. That could be a “loose” term that includes not just traditional advertising — print, TV, radio — but includes Facebook, Twitter, mailing news releases, sending op-eds for publication in newspapers, post cards and even telephone campaigns.
KLEC has the report broken down for each lobbying firm that includes advertising expenses and it shows the firms spent $269,709.14 on getting their message to the public and thus to legislators.
The advertising expenses ranged from $15 for social media posts by Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky to $82,720 by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The council spent the $82,720 on Senate Bill 132 and used Spotify, podcasts, online display and native ads, cable and connected TV and emails to nurses.