Millions spent by lobbyists this year

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About $4.2 million was spent on lobbying during the first two months of the 2013 General Assembly session. This is about 10 percent more than the $3.8 million spent during the same period two years ago, in the previous odd-year, ‘short’ session.

So far, the top-spending employers of lobbyists in the 2013 session are: Altria Client Services, which has spent $85,244 lobbying on bills changing or increasing taxes on tobacco products; and Century Aluminum of Kentucky, which has spent $82,950 lobbying on legislation to allow large industrial consumers of electricity (like Century Aluminum) to purchase electricity “off the grid” instead of from local retail electric suppliers.

Other 2013 top-spenders are: Kentucky Chamber of Commerce ($61,513); Kentucky Hospital Association ($58,101); Build Our Bridge Now ($48,432); Kentucky Retail Federation ($42,972); Kentucky Medical Association ($42,891); Kentucky Bankers Association ($36,160); Kentuckians for the Commonwealth ($34,827); Kentucky Association of Healthcare Facilities ($34,720); AT&T ($32,085); Baptist Healthcare ($30,144); Kentucky Justice Association ($30,126); Kentucky League of Cities ($29,789); and CSX Corporation ($27,964).

Spending on February events conducted by lobbying interests for legislators includes: Coal Operators & Associates, Kentucky Coal Association, Kentucky Oil & Gas Association, and West Kentucky Coal Association spending $3,687 each for a total of $14,748 on an Energy Reception at Buffalo Trace Clubhouse in Frankfort; CSX Corp. ($3,585), Norfolk Southern Corp. ($3,585), and Paducah & Louisville Railway ($3,585) spending $10,755 on a Kentucky Railroad Association reception on rail cars parked in downtown Frankfort; and Kentucky Beverage Association ($3,704), Kentucky Association of Manufacturers ($3,000), and Kentucky Retail Federation ($1,800), spending a total of $8,504 on a legislative reception at the Capital Plaza Hotel.

Other event spending includes: Kentucky Association of Realtors, $6,221 on a reception at the Capital Plaza Hotel; Kentucky Rural Water Association, $4,288 on a legislative breakfast at the Hotel; Kentucky Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, $3,376 on a reception at the Hotel; Sullivan University System, $2,188 on Career College Day at the Capitol Annex; Baptist Healthcare, $1,694 on a reception at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort; National Association of Social Workers, Kentucky Chapter, $1,712; Kentucky League of Cities, $1,385 on a City Night Reception at the Frankfort Convention Center; Kentucky Hospital Association, $1,228 on a luncheon in the Capitol Annex; Kentucky Association of Mental Health-Mental Retardation Programs, Inc., $1,156 on a reception at Buffalo Trace; Kentucky Association of Nurse Anesthetists, $1,012 for a reception at the Hotel; and Commerce Lexington, $1,001 on a reception at Buffalo Trace.  In addition to evening receptions, 29 breakfasts and lunches were conducted by businesses and interest groups on legislative days in February, usually in the Capitol Annex, where the legislative offices and committee meeting rooms are located.

The following businesses and organizations recently registered to lobby the Kentucky General Assembly: Barbara Bowers, MD, a Paducah ophthalmologist who specializes in refractive and cataract surgery; Cypress Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm that represents clients including Citibank, CNA Financial, Federal Home Loan Banks, US Bank, Freddie Mac, and International Swaps and Derivatives Association; Data Recognition Corp., a Minnesota company that provides educational testing and assessment programs; and Edgenuity, Inc., an Arizona company which sells online courses to schools.

Also registered in recent weeks: GEICO, an auto insurance company that is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway; Lockridge Grindal Nauen, a Minneapolis-based law firm monitoring credit card surcharge issues; National Coalition of Pharmaceutical Distributors, a Miami-based association whose website says it is “aggressively working to help enact federal legislation to revamp the nation’s chain of custody laws for prescription pharmaceutical products”; and Troutman Sanders Strategies LLC, an Atlanta-based law and lobbying firm which listed as a Real Party in Interest the Real Estate Valuation Advocacy Association, a trade association for the real estate appraisal industry.

Other new registrants include: Tyco International, a Swiss fire safety and security systems company that registered to lobby on House Bill 119, the “Kentucky Buy American Act” which would require local governments to use American-made products, steel, and iron in public construction projects; Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based organization working on church-state issues, and which represented taxpayers who recently settled a federal lawsuit in which the state of Kentucky agreed to change its child-care system to prohibit religious coercion, indoctrination and discrimination involving children in privately-run, publicly-funded child care facilities and foster homes; and Carespring Health Care Management, an Ohio-based operator of Northern Kentucky nursing homes, which recently announced it would build a $24 million transitional care facility in Cold Spring. A month ago, Carespring settled a federal lawsuit by agreeing to pay the U.S. Government $350,000, and retain an independent compliance consultant to monitor the quality of patient care at Carespring’s Erlanger nursing home.

Several businesses and groups terminated lobbying registration and are no longer lobbying in Kentucky: Advanced Care Center; Apria Healthcare Group; Endo Pharmaceuticals; Kentucky Credit Rights Bar Association; and Northern Kentucky Youth Foundation.

The only organization which has failed to file the spending report due on March 15 is Ten-Ure Organization of State Employees.

Kentucky’s state government recently awarded several large contracts to businesses which agreed to provide personnel to perform state services. 

The Department of Corrections awarded a $28 million contract to Correctcare, Inc. of Lexington to provide for access to physicians, nurses, and other medical support staff to conduct primary care, onsite/offsite specialty care, and other medical services for inmates at 12 correctional facilities around the state, with the contract to run Jan. 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013.

The Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities awarded several large contracts to health care staffing companies.  Two of the contracts are for 18-month periods, including one for $18,722,100, which went to Registry of Physician Specialists, a medical corporation based in Walnut Creek, Calif. The second contract, for $15,665,424, went to Staff Care, Inc. of Irving, Texas.

Both companies contracted with the state to provide emergency/temporary psychiatry and physician services for: Bingham Gardens ICF (formerly Central State ICF/MR), Central State Hospital, Glasgow State Nursing Facility, Hazelwood Center, Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center, Western State Hospital, and Western State Nursing Facility.

The Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities also awarded two staffing contracts which are for three months each, and expire this week. One contract went to Guardian Angel Staffing Agency of Louisville. The contract runs from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2013, and will pay Guardian Angel $12.3 million to provide nurses, technicians, and other health care workers to Western State Hospital, Western State Nursing Facility, and Glasgow State Nursing Facility.

The second three-month contract was a $12.5 million contract to Nursestaffing Group Kentucky, LLC of Louisville for Jan. 1 to March 31, 2013. During that time, Nursestaffing is also providing nurses, technicians, and other health care workers to Western State Hospital, Western State Nursing Facility and the Glasgow State Nursing Facility.

The Department awarded another staffing contract to Guardian Healthcare Providers of Brentwood, Tenn. Under that contract, Guardian Healthcare will receive $24.3 million for the six months between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2013 to provide nurses, technicians, and other health care workers to Hazelwood Center and ICF homes, Bingham Gardens ICF homes, Western State Hospital, Western State Nursing Facility and the Glasgow State Nursing Facility.

The Transportation Cabinet awarded a $14.5 million contract (80 percent federal funds) to HDR Engineering of Lexington. For the next two years, HDR will assist in the construction oversight, inspection, and quality assurance of the downtown crossing of the Louisville Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridge Project and perform quality assurance audits of Indiana’s work on the bridge located in eastern Jefferson County.

Courtesy of Kentucky Ethics Newsletter