By Laura H. Hendrix, Executive Director, Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission
This is the first Legislative Ethics Commission report by its new Executive Director Laura H. Hendrix. She replaces John Schaaf who retired as of September 1. In case you need it, here is Laura’s contact information:
Laura H. Hendrix, Executive Director, Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, 22 Mill Creek Park, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601-9230, 502-573-2863. Laura’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Kentucky lobbying increases more than $1 million from last odd year’s totals
Businesses and organizations spent $15.7 million on lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly during the first eight months of 2019, which is up $1.2 million from the most recent short session year, in 2017. In 2015, spending was $13.7 million, and in 2013, it was $11.9 million, for the same period. The General Assembly is in session for only 30 legislative days in odd years, as opposed to a 60-day session in even numbered years.
During the first two-thirds of 2019, 709 lobbying employers paid about 580 lobbyists more than $14.3 million, and an additional $902,575 was spent on lobbying-related administrative costs, such as travel and other expenses.
The leading spender for January through August, 2019, is the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent $235,978 on lobbying. Running a close second, at $214,025, is Altria (Phillip Morris).
The rest of the top 10 spenders and amounts for this period of reporting are: Kentucky Hospital Association ($169,596); Kentucky Bankers Association ($125,644); National Council of State Boards of Nursing ($116,889); CSX Corporation ($104,643); Anthem, Inc ($99,589); Kentucky Retail Federation ($96,988); Greater Louisville, Inc. ($96,624); and Kentucky Justice Association ($94,142).
The remainder of the top 25 spenders and amounts are: Humana ($90,547); U.S. Justice Action Network ($86,848); Kentucky Credit Union League ($85,277); Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($82,640); United Healthcare Services ($80,610); Kentucky Medical Association ($79,670); HCA Healthcare ($78,400); Kentucky League of Cities ($77,770); Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation ($74,086); Accenture ($74,000); Juul Labs ($73, 989); DisposeRX ($71,900); Kentucky Association of Manufacturers ($70,377); Kentucky Equine Education Alliance ($66,978); and Johnson & Johnson ($66,120).
Advertising relating to lobbying in the 2019 legislative session
In 2014, bipartisan legislation enacted by the Kentucky General Assembly required employers of lobbyists to report the cost of advertising appearing during a legislative session that supports or opposes legislation, which is paid for by that employer of lobbyists or a person or organization affiliated with an employer. This includes statements disseminated to the public in print, via radio or television, or any electronic means, including internet or telephonically, and includes direct or bulk mailings.
During the 2019 Regular Session of the General Assembly, $294,117.10 was spent on advertising relating to legislation, by employers of lobbyists. The top 10 employers and amounts spent on advertising were: National Council of State Boards of Nursing ($94,639); Kentucky Credit Union League ($40,077.65); Kentucky Retired Teachers Association ($30,003.67); Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund ($18,235); Juul Labs ($17,232.72); Excellence in Education in Action ($14,614.57); American Federation for Children ($13,192.50); Family Foundation ($12,640); Mountain Association for Community Economic Development ($8,163.63); and Americans for Prosperity ($7,892.56).
The top 5 amounts and issues on which advertising costs were paid for by employers during the 2019 legislative session were: $94,639.00 regarding 2019 RS SB 132 (advanced registered nurse prescriptive authority); $48,303.66 regarding 2019 RS HB 205 (scholarship tax credits); $40,077.65 regarding 2019 RS HB 139 (Kentucky Financial Empowerment Commission); $30,083.55 regarding teacher pension and health insurance legislation; and $19,958.97 regarding 2019 RS SB 150 (concealed carry without permit).
Recent lobbying registrations and terminations
Six businesses recently registered to lobby the General Assembly, including two companies intending to lobby on the issue of medical marijuana: Ovid Ventures, registered by Robert Arnold, also the owner of Saffire Vapor, an e-cigarette company; and CT Pharmaceutical, a Connecticut medical marijuana vaping company. Other new registrants include: Cisco Systems, Inc; Evolent Health, Inc; Prescient Medicine; and Vivera Senior Living, LLC.
Recently terminated businesses and organizations include: Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc; Astrellas Pharma US; Balanced Health KY; Boy Scouts of America; Ellis Park Race Course, LLC; Energy Systems Group; Equian LLC; Fund for the Arts; Hagan Properties; Highlands Health System; Kentuckians for Better Transportation; KY State Beekeepers Association; Mortenson Dental Partners; New Meridian Corp.; Notarize; Objectiv Growth, LLC; Republic Bank & Trust Company; RiverValley Behavioral Health; and Walker Company.
Recent spending on events
As summer ends, so too does the spring and summer conference season. Under Kentucky’s legislative ethics law, lobbying groups are permitted to invite designated groups of legislators to events, but they must report spending on these events.
Some of the events held recently, and reported to the Legislative Ethics Commission, included receptions held in conjunction with the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN, with a total cost of $18,774.61, and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Annual Meeting in Austin, TX, with a total expenditure of $7,267.55.
Other events included the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s 56th Annual Kentucky Ham Breakfast and Picnic, at $5,772; a Cincinnati Reds Game in conjunction with Northern Kentucky committee meetings, at $3,238.02; and a Derby Day Brunch held at the Kentucky Exposition Center totaling $5,263.96.