A new crop of employers and industries emerged as major lobbying forces in the 2017 Maryland General Assembly, Common Cause Maryland (CCMD) reported today.
The annual study of lobbying in the state legislature found that overall lobbying expenditures stayed relatively stable, with the 36 leading employers spending a total of almost $19 million. But lobbying expenditures grew by a staggering 40% among the top 10 paying employers and spending on statewide environment and utility/energy issues skyrocketed, largely driven by the debate on fracking legislation. Industry spending on statewide health issues dropped, marking a potential shift in focus to national health issues following a tumultuous election year.
Payments to lobbyists this session remained pretty consistent, with 110 lobbyists receiving a total of $28 million. Interestingly, the total amount that employers spent on lobbying decreased by 4.5% this session, yet the total amount that employers paid to lobbyists increased by 1.1%.
As the Summer Research associate responsible for the report, I think it’s troubling that employers spent millions of dollars to be heard by our General Assembly, yet it is interesting that new players and tactics cropped up this year in Annapolis. While I noticed that businesses again spent tremendous amounts of money on lobbying efforts, I feel reassured that big spending did not always translate to big victories by these employers.
Takeaways from Top Ten Employers & Lobbyists
Rise of Environmental & Energy/Utility Industries:
- The American Petroleum Institute (API) replaced the Maryland Hospital Association as the highest spending employer of 2017. That is a drastic change from last year, when API did not even pay to play.
- Due to API’s targeted radio and print ads in opposition to the Fracking Ban Bill, spending within the environmental industry rose from 19th to second place among industry expenditures.
Fall of Telecom & Transportation Industries:
- Several employers’ lobbying expenditures shrank, as their issues faded to the background during this session. Telecom and transportation, former top spenders, fell in the ranks, and certain firms, such as Expedia, did not even make the list.
Strength of Education Industry:
- The education industry became the sixth highest lobbying spender, underscoring the continued policy friction between the Hogan administration and MD’s education unions.
Continuation of Bail Bonds Industry:
- The Lexington National Insurance Corporation, which deals with the bail bonds industry, increased its spending by 130% from last year. These expenditures highlight the intensity of the bail bonds reform debate, as reported by CCMD in January.
Appearance of Medical Marijuana Industry:
- The contentious debate over diversifying the medical marijuana program in Maryland catapulted new employers into the $50,000-and-over list. Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association and Holistic Industries LLC spent a total of $135,662 on lobbying.
Battle for Highest Lobbying Positions:
- Gerard Evans, Bruce Bereano, and Timothy Perry were the three highest paid lobbyists in Annapolis, collecting more than $1 million for their lobbying efforts.
Lack of Women in Top Lobbyists List:
- Lisa Harris Jones, the fourth highest paid lobbyist, was the only woman in the top 10 lobbyists list and one of only three women in the top 30, a troubling trend given Annapolis’ reputation as an “old boys’ club.”
CCMD synthesizes lobbying data provided twice a year by the State Ethics Commission, examining the leading employers’ expenditures and issues. The ethics report lists employers that reported at least $50,000 in lobbying expenses, as well as lobbyists who reported at least $50,000 in lobbying income, from November 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017. For this report, CCMD analyzed and categorized 200 employers into 29 industry categories.
For More Information:
Susan Radov, Summer Research associate, 443-388-1473, firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: Common Cause Maryland
Issues: Money in Politics