The Associated Press is reporting tonight that in just three months, companies and special interest groups spent more than 8.4 million dollars trying to influence Kentucky lawmakers. The third straight year lobbying spending has broken records in the bluegrass state.
But some of the biggest spenders had little to show for their efforts as lawmakers either passed laws they opposed or did not act on legislation they supported. Spending totals were released this week by the legislative ethics commission covering the first three months of 2018.
The top three spenders were all focused on one issue: cigarette taxes.
Groups like the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and The Foundation For a Healthy Kentucky asked lawmakers to raise the tax by one dollar per pack. Together, those two groups spent over 270 thousand dollars on lobbying. They argued the tax increase would save lives by discouraging smoking.
But Altria, the parent company of tobacco giant Phillip Morris USA, spent a whopping 332 thousand dollars. That's more than double the amount spent by any other group.
Lawmakers eventually agreed to raise taxes by 50 cents per pack. Republican governor Matt Bevin vetoed the increase, but lawmakers voted to override him.