NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Lobbying At State Level Rising Swiftly

May 2, 2002

The amount being spent on lobbying state legislators and disclosed by states has nearly doubled in five years, according to a study by the Center for Public Integrity.

  • Lobbyists spent $570 million in 2000 to influence legislators in 34 states -- a rise of 91 percent since 1995, when fewer states reported such spending.
  • Sixteen states still do not tabulate lobbyist spending.
  • The study documented nearly 37,000 businesses, associations and interest groups that are registered lobbyists in the 50 states -- a ratio of about five lobbyists for every state legislator.
  • Closely regulated industries -- such as insurance, education, local government and health care -- constituted the largest lobbying groups in nearly every state capitol.

California lobbyists had by far the largest operations, spending $180 million in 2000 -- compared with $66 million spent in New York, the state with the next highest amount.

State legislators are rarely subjected to the kind of conflict-of-interest rules that apply to Congress. In fact, the center found that one in five of the nation's 7,400 legislators sat on a committee that regulated industries or issues in which they had a personal financial interest -- and that 18 percent had a financial connection to a business or group that lobbied in their state house.

The center even found one Arkansas legislator who was also a registered lobbyist.

Source: David Firestone, "Study Tracks Big Rise in Statehouse Lobbying," New York Times, May 2, 2002; "The Fourth Branch," May 2002, Center for Public Integrity.


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