In 30-day session, lobby interests spent record $20.8 million

John Schaaf

By John Schaaf, Executive Director, Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission

Lobbying interests set a record during the 2017 Kentucky General Assembly short session spent a record $20.8 million.

The new record is surprising because the 2017 General Assembly was a short session, lasting 30 days, while the 2016 session lasted twice as long and included the enactment of the two-year state budget. In 2017, 615 lobbyists worked for 714 employers, and were paid $18.8 million, which was more than 90 percent of all lobbying spending.

Other expenditures for lobbying include: lobbyist-paid expenses such as office rent and clerical assistance ($846,917); employer-paid expenses such as reimbursement of lobbyist travel and professional or technical assistance ($684,833), and employer and lobbyist sponsorship of receptions, meals, and events ($209,766).

The two top spending lobbying organizations in 2017 are the same as 2016, but they both spent considerably more in 2017 than the year before. Kentucky Chamber of Commerce spent $338,783, up from $281,378 in 2016. Likewise, Altria (Philip Morris and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co.) spent $312,196, up from $274,358 in the prior year.

The other top 10 spenders include three new additions from the prior year, and several changing places on the list. The Ky. Justice Association ($177,419) moved into third place, while the Ky. Hospital Association ($167,861) dropped a spot after spending $43,000 less than in 2016. Anthem Inc. ($157,000) moved into the top 10, spending almost $30,000 more than 2016, followed by Marsy’s Law for All ($152,385); Ky. League of Cities ($147,049, which is $36,000 more than 2016); Ky. Retail Federation ($140,147, down from $204,124 the prior year); Molina Healthcare ($129,600); and U.S. Justice Action Network ($120,604 in their first year of lobbying).

The rest of the top 20 spenders include: Humana ($116,968); AT&T ($111,525); Ky. Medical Association ($109,858); EQT Corp. ($103,073); Home Builders Association of Ky. ($100,377); Ky. Farm Bureau Federation ($96,739), down $43,000 from 2016; LifePoint Hospitals ($99,253); Greater Louisville, Inc. ($95,344); United Parcel Service ($91,369); and Commonwealth Credit Union ($90,507 in their first year of lobbying).

In February, there are two special elections for seats in the House of Representatives. The four candidates in the elections have filed financial disclosure statements, and those are posted on the KLEC website:

The election in the 49th House District (Bullitt County) is February 20, and in the 89th House District (Jackson, Laurel, and Madison Counties), the election is February 27.

Businesses and organizations which have recently registered to lobby include: American Childhood Cancer Organization; American Retirement Association; Blue Equity; Century Link; Crime & Justice Institute; First Cash; G2LYTICS; Heaven Hill Distilleries; Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Cardiology; Kentucky Dataseam Initiative; Kentucky Health Department Association; Oldcastle Materials; OneMain Holdings; Owensboro Grain; Passport Foundation; Pathfinder Capital; Pegasus Institute; Point Pleasant Fire Protection District; Simple Contacts; Speedwash Car Wash/Fern Creek; and Warber Parker.

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