Lobbying the Maryland Legislature
- Jennifer Bevan Dangel
Spending continues to increase, top players stay on top
ANNAPOLIS – Over the last year, the composition of influential industries lobbying in Annapolis has remained virtually unchanged. However, spending on lobbyists continued to climb. According to Common Cause Maryland, the amount industries spent on lobbying jumped by almost $1.5 million this year, reaching a record-setting $19,809,305.
“As the amount of money spent lobbying increases, ordinary citizens are finding it harder and harder to make their voices heard in Maryland lawmaking,” said Erin Brown, a research intern with Common Cause Maryland. “What everyday Marylander has the tens of thousands of dollars needed to gain a seat at the table nowadays?”
“Citizens in the United States pay more for healthcare than citizens in any other developed country,” said Christopher Walkup, another research intern with Common Cause Maryland. “With the healthcare industry spending over $4,500,000 in lobbying this session, it seems like some of our healthcare premiums are going to line the pockets of our state’s biggest lobbyists.”
The State Ethics Commission releases its summary report on lobbying expenditures twice a year, following each reporting period. This report is vital, as it helps the public to track which industries and companies are spending the most money lobbying legislators.
The 11 industries that spent over $500,000 included:
- Health Care – $4,525,538
- Utility and Energy Companies – $1,819,142
- Development Companies and Organizations – $1,646,655
- Business Groups (chambers, large corporations, and other industries) – $1,190,376
- Other* – $1,153,603
- Telecom Industry – $784,614
- Gambling Companies – $728,821
- Transportation- $664,952
- Automobile Industry – $660,274
- Education Organizations – $516,583
Other highlights of the reports:
- This year’s total spending reached $19,809,305, an almost $1.5 million increase from last year’s $18,349,48.
- Uber Technologies, the innovative and controversial service that enlists car owners to provide taxi rides, emerged as a player in the lobbying scene in 2015, spending $127,139 on a bill supporting Uber’s business practices; Despite accomplishing their goal of passing the bill, Uber has only decreased spending by $3,200. This lack in decrease of spending may be attributed to an increase in competition services, like Lyft.
- While just five employers had spent over $300,000 by this time in 2015, that number increased to seven this year. This year, sixteen employers spent over $200,000 and sixty spent $100,000 or more.
- The highest spending employer was Maryland Hospital Association at $518,050.
- Seven new automobile lobbyist employers have emerged since 2015
- Gun regulation and manufacturing have reappeared as lobbying issues, each with one employer emerging in 2016.
- Ten major industries have decreased overall spending since 2013 (gambling, education, religious, retail, insurance, union, tobacco, waste, business, and defense), but others have more than compensated for their decline.
The ethics report lists employers that reported at least $50,000 in lobbying expenses, as well as lobbyists with $50,000 or more in lobbying income, from November 1, 2015 through April 30, 2016. Common Cause Maryland analyzed the list, categorizing 200 employers into 29 broad industry categories.
The lobbying report totals can be found on the Ethics Commission website at: http://ethics.maryland.gov/lobbyists/lobbying-report-totals/
Common Cause Maryland’s analysis is available online at: http://www.commoncause.org/states/maryland/research-and-reports/2016-state-ethics-commission.pdf
*”Other” is defined as organizations and companies with unclear or varied goals and interests