Record $344.3 million spent lobbying Legislature, agencies

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The Associated Press

Spending to lobby the Legislature and state regulators jumped nearly 18 percent to a record $344.3 million over the two-year period ending last Dec. 31, the secretary of state’s office said.

Lobbyist spending climbs steadily from legislative session to legislative session, but the 1999-2000 total represents the biggest percentage increase since 1991-1992, when spending jumped almost 21 percent.

The total for 1997-98 was $292.6 million.

The California Teachers Association topped all lobbyist employers by spending $5.7 million. Pacific Telesis and its subsidiaries were second with nearly $5.2 million.

The rest of the top 10 were the Western States Petroleum Association, $3.9 million; California Chamber of Commerce, $3.6 million; Edison International and its subsidiaries, $3.1 million; the California Healthcare Association and its affiliates, $2.7 million; the California Medical Association, $2.7 million; the California Manufacturers Association, $2.4 million; State Farm Insurance, $2.4 million; and Consumer Attorneys, $2.3 million.

When the totals were broken down by types of employers, local governments and groups representing them led the pack with almost $52.9 million in spending. The health industry was second with $41.5 million.

Representatives of business and teacher groups said the size of the state, the issues it faces and the amount of legislation introduced in Sacramento account for the amount of spending on lobbying.

“California has the fifth largest economy in the world and over 6,000 pieces of legislation with a direct impact on the business community are introduced during a two-year session,” said Fred Main, senior vice president of the California Chamber of Commerce.

“There’s a lot of work to do and a lot of information to be dispersed.”

Doug Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights suggested that legislative term limits may encourage more spending on lobbyists.

“The less experience a legislator has, the more aggressive the lobbying gets, because oftentimes lawmakers who have been around a while know the issues and can’t be bullied,” he said.

Consumer Watchdog
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