lobbying

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A federal appeals court issued a ruling on Thursday upholding Kentucky’s ban on contributions and gifts from lobbyists. 

The lawsuit was filed by Republican State Senator John Schickel of Union and David Watson who ran unsuccessfully for the 6th District House seat in 2016.

They claimed several of Kentucky’s campaign finance and ethics statutes violated their First and 14th Amendment rights.  Several members of Kentucky’s Registry of Election  Finance  and  Legislative  Ethics  Commission were named as defendants in the suit. 

LG&E

With the latest rate hike, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities customers will help pick up the tab for membership dues at trade groups that lobby against environmental protections.

Whether customers like it or not, LG&E’s natural monopoly guarantees that everyone buying service in their territory will pay into these trade groups, even if those groups lobby against customers’ own interests.

Although the Kentucky General Assembly met for only five days in January, lobbyist spending broke a record for the first month of an odd-year session. 

Lobbyists spent $2.1 million in the five days kicking off the session before lawmakers recessed until February.  This year’s total is a 14% increase from the $1.8 million spent in the first month of 2015, the previous odd-year session. 

According to the Legislative Ethics Commission, January 2017 spending almost reached the total spent in January 2016 when lawmakers were in session for the entire month. 

www.lrc.ky.gov

Lobbying companies gave six-figure contributions to underwrite the costs for Kentucky to host the Southern Legislative Conference annual convention.

The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission says three groups that lobby the legislature gave at least $100,000 to sponsor the convention. Those groups were the Keeneland race track, the Kentucky Distillers Association and LG&E and KU Energy. About 1,500 state legislators and staff attended the conference from 15 southern states.

Although such contributions are legal and not unusual not everyone agrees with the practice. Chairman of Common Cause of Kentucky, Richard Beliles, says the donations buy access to legislators.

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The opposing sides of the 2015 beer battle topped the list of lobbying spending during the first two months of the Kentucky General Assembly, according recently released numbers from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.

Spending reports only become available a month later because of filing deadlines.

Anheuser-Busch, Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth and Kentucky Beer Wholesalers were among the top-five spenders during the session, dropping a combined $483,830 on lobbying expenses and advertising in January and February.

Anheuser-Busch unsuccessfully fought against a bill that will forbid out-of-state beer brewers from owning distributors in the state. With the backing of craft beer and local distributors, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear in early March.

Both Anheuser-Busch and Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth aired TV and radio advertisements across the state, with AB over doubling KEG’s advertising dollars.

Anheuser-Busch says it will have to close the distributorships it owns in Louisville and Owensboro by the end of this year, but is still “reviewing its legal options,” saying that the law violates the Kentucky and U.S. Constitutions.

About $4.2 million was spent on lobbying in total. Here’s a rundown of the top spenders.

Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce spent the most cash lobbying in the General Assembly in the month of January.

According to the Legislative Ethics Commission groups spent nearly $1.8 million that month.

The Kentucky Chamber dropped more than $30,000 trying to influence legislators on matters like public-private-partnerships, the local-option sales tax and charter schools.

Another notable big-spender in January was the tobacco company Altria, which also spent the most on lobbying the legislature last year at $323,000.

The Kentucky Hospital Association helped cap the top three spots. That group has been lobbying for the implementation of medical review panels and the smoking ban.

A record-high 677 businesses and organizations are currently registered to lobby the Kentucky General Assembly.

For more than a decade, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Kentucky,  owned a $200,000-piece of West Virginia property with a lobbyist whose clients and employers had business before him in Congress, writes R.G. Dunlop, a reporter from WFPL's Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Kevin Willis

Lobbyists spent $8.7 million to lobby Kentucky lawmakers this year—and tobacco giant Altria led the pack at $156,000, According to records released by the Legislative Ethics Commission this week.

Some have pointed to the tobacco lobby's heavy spending during the 2014 session as a major contributing factor in the defeat of a statewide smoking ban.

Here are the top 10-spending companies and business interest groups to lobby the General Assembly: