Statehouse Lobbying Hits $890 Million
By Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writer
Lobbyists in 41 states spent nearly $890 million to sway state lawmakers in 2003, and eight states saw lobbying dollars jump 30 percent or more, according to a study released May 19 by the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group.
The total is up from the $720 million that lobbyists reported spending in 40 states in 2002, the center said in its report, titled "Under Pressure".
California ranked first in how much lobbyists spent wining, dining and persuading state lawmakers ($191 million), followed by Texas ($137 million), New York ($120 million), Massachusetts ($59 million) and Minnesota ($44 million), according to the center.
Twenty states saw spending by lobbyists increase at least 10 percent in 2003, and eight of them Delaware, Florida, Maine, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming recorded increases of 30 percent or more, the center said.
Medical malpractice awards and telecommunication regulations were two noticeable hot-button issues that spurred more spending in Florida, said Robert Morlino, author of the report. The Sunshine State reported more than a 100 percent jump in the amount of lobbying dollars, to $9 million from $4 million previously. Florida's totals don't include lobbyists' salaries or fees. New York went over the $100 million mark, due in large part, to intense lobbying over tort reform, Morlino said.
The five-page study is an update of the center's 2003 "Hired Guns" report in which the center gave half the states failing grades for a lack of oversight and limited public disclosure of the amounts lobbyists spend trying to influence state capitals. Little has happened in the past year to change the rankings, and still no state warrants an "A" grade, Morlino said. Washington state ranked first for its lobbying regulations.
Click here for a state-by-state breakdown of the amount spent in the 41 states.
Nine states Alabama, Arkansas, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Dakota did not provide aggregate lobby spending figures for 2003, the center said.
State lobbying requirements vary widely, making comparisons difficult, the center's Morlino said. Sixteen states, for example, do not include information on salaries or fees paid to lobbyists, which is the lion's share of the cost. New York's overall state total also includes lobbying expenditures at the local level.
Pennsylvania remains the only state without any lobbying regulations in state statute. The state Supreme Court struck down the Keystone State's lobbying laws in 2002, and the Legislature has done little to reinstate them, Morlino said.
The study was funded by the Joyce Foundation and the Ford Foundation.