Both sides of a tobacco tax increase help lead the way
By John Schaaf, Executive Director, Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission
Led by vigorous lobbying for and against a tobacco tax increase, lobbying spending in the first two months of the 2018 General Assembly hit a record high of $5.6 million.
Opposing the tax increase, tobacco giant Altria spent $156,651 to lead all spenders after the session’s second month, while the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky was next on the list, spending $107,336 lobbying in support of a higher tobacco tax. In two months, the two battling organizations spent a combined $264,000 on legislative lobbying.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is next on the list after spending $105,285. LG&E and KU Energy jumped into the top five, spending $101,939, including $59,884 on advertising in support of legislation to cut payments to utility customers who generate excess electricity and sell it to utility companies. Other top spenders lobbying on the same bill include: Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives ($51,167); Big Rivers Electric ($36,801); and Consumer Energy Alliance ($28,087).
At this point in the legislative session, the amounts spent on lobbying far exceeded the amounts spent in 2016 and 2017, and put 2018 on track to be another record-breaking year for lobbying. As the session moved past the halfway mark, the number of businesses, organizations, and people registered to lobby increased to 709 employers (up from 684 in the previous report), and 612 lobbyists (up from 596).
Other top spenders during the session’s first two months include: Baxter Healthcare ($70,000); Kentucky Hospital Association ($68,149); Sullivan University System ($43,332); Marsy’s Law for All ($40,730); Kentucky Justice Association ($39,151); Kentucky Medical Association ($35,843); Anthem, Inc. ($34,064); and Kentucky League of Cities ($33,835).
The rest of the top 20 spenders are: Greater Louisville, Inc. ($33,700); Kentucky Bankers Association ($30,364); Kentucky Retail Federation ($30,242); 1800Contacts ($30,033); and Kentucky Association of Healthcare Facilities ($29,420).
Legislative Ethics chair resigns during session
George Troutman of Louisville, who served on the Legislative Ethics Commission for 24 years, retired from the Commission on March 23.
Troutman, a Certified Public Accountant, was appointed to the Commission in 1994, the year after the Commission was established in the wake of the BOPTROT scandal, and he was reappointed five times. He chaired the Commission for 17 years.
New firms continue to register to lobby
Businesses and organizations which have recently registered to lobby include: AARP Government Affairs; American Federation for Children; Association for Accessible Medicines; Bardenwerper, Talbott & Roberts, PLLC; Chambers Medical Group; Commonwealth Chiropractic Alliance; Enclara Pharmacia; Gilead Sciences, Inc.; Kentucky Cares; Key Assets Kentucky; MAGNA Pharmaceuticals; Monarch Private Capital; National Community Pharmacists Association; Opternative; Otsuka America Pharmaceutical; Quicken Loans; and Thomas D. Clark Foundation. One organization terminated its registration and is no longer lobbying: SAS Institute Inc., a North Carolina-based developer of analytics software.