Although the General Assembly met for only five days in January to begin the 2017 session, the $2.1 million in lobbying spending broke the spending record for the first month of an odd-year legislative session. This year’s total is a 14 percent increase from the $1.8 million spent in the first month of 2015, the previous odd-year session.
January 2017 spending almost reached the total spent in January 2016, when the legislators were in session for the entire month, and lobbying spending last year eventually hit an all-time high of $20.8 million spent by businesses, organizations, and lobbyists pursuing their interests with the General Assembly.
In addition to more spending, Kentucky has 715 businesses and organizations lobbying the General Assembly, and that is a record number of employers. There are 626 lobbyists working for those employers.
In the first month of the session, the top lobbying spender was the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent $47,527 lobbying, including about $41,000 in lobbyist compensation, which is more than the Chamber has ever paid in one month for lobbying compensation.
The Chamber’s 20 lobbyists worked on five bills, including four that passed in the session’s first week: House Bill 1, “right to work”; House Bill 3, “prevailing wage”; Senate Bill 3, “disclosure of public retirement information”; and Senate Bill 6, requiring employees to give a signed authorization to employers to have union dues withheld from their paychecks.
Other top spenders for the first month of the session include: Altria (Philip Morris) $28,122; Marsy’s Law for All $24,598; Kentucky Pipe Trades Association $22,216; Kentucky Bankers Association $18,080; Kentucky Hospital Association $17,816; Wine Institute $17,500; Anthem, Inc. $17,000; Westlake Chemical $16,000; Norton Healthcare $14,750; Kentucky Justice Association $14,564; Greater Louisville, Inc. $13,803; Kentucky Medical Association $13,605; CSX $12,918; Swedish Match North America $12,718; Home Builders Association of Kentucky $12,625; Kentucky League of Cities $11,740; AT&T $11,605; Kentucky Retail Federation $11,532; Humana $11,527; U.S. Justice Action Network $11,479; National Heritage Academics $11,419; Kentucky Association of Realtors $11,194; Molina Healthcare $10,800; Legalize Kentucky Now $10,103; Beckfield College $10,000; and Hewlett Packard Enterprise $10,000.
Legislators’ financial statements on line
All members of the General Assembly are required to file financial disclosure statements for the preceding calendar year. The statements are available from the Legislative Ethics Commission, and all are posted on the Commission’s website http://klec.ky.gov.
Lobbyists embrace on-line filing
Each business or organization that employs a lobbyist is required to file a brief report showing their lobbying activities and spending, and each lobbyist files a similar report about their individual activities.
There are 3,044 forms expected to be filed by March 15th by employers and lobbyists. 2,964 forms were filed for January 1-31.
85 percent of employers filed their forms online, while 89 percent of the forms for lobbyists were filed online, meaning 88 percent of all forms due were filed online at the Ethics Commission’s website: http://klec.ky.gov
Employers and lobbyists who file paper forms, are required to use the forms updated by the Commission, effective October 2016. All new forms are located on the Commission website.
This does NOT affect employers or legislative agents who file online. Any questions can be directed to the Commission’s office at 502-573-2863.