Kentucky State Capitol

Kentucky State Capitol

According to the May report of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, lobbyist spending hit a record high of $9.53 million in the 2016 session of the General Assembly, with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce topping the list of groups trying to persuade state legislators.

The total of lobbyist spending for the session was a 9 percent increase from the previous high in 2014, and the 698 businesses and organizations registered to lobby also amounted to a new record.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce devoted $149,002 to lobbying during the 2016 session, the most ever spent by the business advocacy group. The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission report noted that the chamber’s website called the session “one of the most successful the business community has seen,” citing its success in passing a public-private partnership bill and a budget that devoted more funds to the troubled public pension systems, and the defeat of renewable energy legislation and “anti-business tax reform.”

The chamber was followed by the Kentucky Hospital Association, which spent $131,472, and the tobacco giant Altria, which spent $119.905. The Kentucky Retail Federation spent $117,941, successfully lobbying against the proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed local governments to enact a 1 percent sales tax increase and devote that revenue to a specific project — a longtime goal of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

The report also noted that bankrupt coal company Peabody Energy terminated their lobbying registration after the 2016 session, as did Kentucky Lift Inc., which was devoted to passing the local option sales amendment.