The Legislative Ethics Committee reports that Kentucky lobbying spending hit an all-time high of $23.1 million last year, blasting past the previous high of $20.8 million set the year before.

The record spending was a ten percent increase over the previous year, and was driven by 731 lobbying businesses and organizations, the most ever registered in Kentucky.  

The record spending was a ten percent increase over the previous year, and was driven by 731 lobbying businesses and organizations, the most ever registered in Kentucky.

In 2018, 590 lobbyists were paid $20.4 million in compensation, which was about 92 percent of all employer lobbying spending. While the number of employers increased to a record high, there was a four percent drop in the number of lobbyists, indicating a further consolidation of Kentucky’s lobbying industry, with about a dozen lobbying firms handling more than half of the business.

Last year’s top lobbying spender was Altria (Philip Morris and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co.), which spent $552,103, a 43 percent increase over Altria’s spending the year before, and more than twice as much as the company spent in 2016, the last year in which a 60-day session was held.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce was in second place among lobbying spenders, after spending $352,425, a 20 percent jump from the Chamber’s spending in 2016.

The rest of the top five spenders include Kentucky Hospital Association ($194,425); Anthem Inc. ($181,564), which landed in fourth place after just moving into the top ten in 2017; and LG&E and KU Energy ($162,073), which vaulted into fifth place from outside the top 20 the year before.

Others in the top 10 were Kentucky League of Cities ($136,849); Kentucky Justice Association ($133,774); Kentucky Medical Association ($130,785); DXC MS (formerly Molina Healthcare ($129,850); and Kentucky Retail Federation ($128,172).

The rest of the top 20 spenders: Humana ($124,044); United Healthcare ($122,259); 1800Contacts ($120,346); DXC Technology ($120,000); Greater Louisville, Inc. ($119,795); CSX Corp. ($118,590); RAI Services ($112,097); Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky ($110,766); Kentucky Wired ($110,000); and Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($105,893).

The Legislative Ethics Commission will conduct a training session on Monday, Feb. 25 for new lobbyists and anyone interested in a refresher course on ethics law requirements for lobbyists and employers.

The training session will start at 11 a.m. in Room 131 in the Capitol Annex in Frankfort, and will include a review of the Commission’s on-line filing system.

The following businesses and organizations recently registered to lobby during the 2019 General Assembly: American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy; Animal Policy Group, LLC; Associates in Pediatric Therapy; Benefitfocus.com, Inc.; Bird Rides, Inc.; BrightStar Care; Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Consolidated; Diversified Gas & Oil Corp.; Equian, LLC; Fund For the Arts; GenCanna Global; Glaxo SmithKline; Green River Alliance Group; and Home Builders Association of Lexington.

Other recent registrants are: Kentucky Academy of Audiology; Kentucky Athletic Trainers’ Society; Kentucky Habitat for Humanity, Inc.; Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency (KYMEA); Kentucky Sheriffs Association; Kentucky Society of Addiction Medicine; Louisville Theatrical Association; Metro United Way; Molina Healthcare, Inc.; National Council of State Boards of Nursing; New Meridian Corp.; Novartis Services, Inc.; Partnership to Protect Patient Health; Purple Toad Winery; Rx Development Associates, Inc.; Terrace Metrics; U.S.A. Drone Port; and Zoll.

Twenty-one businesses and organizations terminated their registration, and are no longer lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly: Almost Family; American Insurance Co.; American Tort Reform; Balanced Budget Amendment; Bardenwerper, Talbott & Roberts PLLC; Check Into Cash; Christ Hospital; CTIA – The Wireless Association; Express Scripts Holding Co.; Ferring Pharmaceuticals; Full House Resorts, Inc.; Johnson Controls, Inc.; Mallinckrodt LLC; National Home Service Contract Association; Northern Kentucky University Foundation; Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.; Pew Charitable Trust; Retirement Security Initiative; Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association; TracFone Wireless, Inc.; and Verde Technologies.

— SUBMITTED