Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Philip Morris's parent company and drug makers spent the most on lobbying the state legislature last year

The two biggest-spending lobbies of the state legislature last year were a tobacco company that opposes a statewide smoking ban and a group of drug makers who oppose a bill to require prescriptions for decongestants used to make methamphetamine.

The biggest spender, dropping $357,433 to lobby the General Assembly, was Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA. Altria is also a significant owner of SABMiller, and alcohol lobbies always have interests in play. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association was the second-biggest spender of 2010, paying $343,377. CHPA represents manufacturers and distributors of non-prescription, over-the-counter medication, who fear a loss of decongestant sales if the anti-meth bill becomes law.

All told, companies and advocacy groups spent $16.65 million lobbying the General Assembly last year, down about 3 percent from the last long session, in 2008. That session occurred before the economic recession, and the amount spent in 2010 on receptions, meals and events dropped significantly — by 24 percent — from 2008. In 2009, when a short session was held, about $15.3 million was spent on lobbying.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent the most on lobbying in 2010, ranked third with spending of $211,935. University Health Care, which operates the Passport Health Plan, was fourth with $190,840. Passport came under fire last year after state Auditor Crit Luallen uncovered unnecessary spending on travel and entertainment, inflated salaries and a lack of oversight. After that review "and a change in management, UHC reduced its lobbying presence in the State Capitol from 13 lobbyists in 2010 to two lobbyists in 2011," says the January edition of Ethics Reporter, the monthly publication of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission. (Read more)

The other organizations and businesses that spent more than $100,000 on lobbying last year are: Kentucky Medical Association ($133,274); Houchens Industries, a Bowling Green conglomerate ($132,000); the Kentucky Retail Federation ($127,803); the Keeneland Association ($121,661); the Kentucky Hospital Association ($120,113); CSX Corp. ($116,405); Kentucky Farm Bureau ($109,373); the Kentucky Justice Association, plaintiffs' lawyers ($105,543); Kentucky Education Association, teachers ($105,353); the Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($103,437); and Res-Care Inc., which operates residential programs for the disabled ($100,289).

To read a report from the Lexington Herald-Leader on the lobby spending, click here.

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