Lobbying is a growing business

Lobbyists have spent more than $8.4 million in Frankfort during the first four months of 2010, the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission reports.

Here’s the article from the commission’s May newsletter, The Ethics Reporter:

Final spending reports for lobbying in the 2010 General Assembly show the amounts spent on lobbying in Kentucky have grown significantly over the last 12 years, much like lobbying activity in other states and in Washington, D.C.

 In Kentucky’s recently completed Regular Session, lobbyists and their employers spent $8.4 million communicating on legislation with legislators, top executive branch officials, and staff.  More than $7 million of that total was compensation paid to lobbyists by the businesses and organizations which employ them.

 Over $1.2 million of the total was spent on employer and lobbyist expenses such as phone banking, office expenses, and lobbyists’ travel to and from Frankfort.  About $148,000 was spent during the session on receptions, meals or events to which groups of legislators were invited. 

 The total for the first four months of 2010 already exceeds the $8.1 million that was spent on lobbying in the entire year of 1998.  That 1998 total was more than doubled two years ago when 2008 lobbying spending hit $16.9 million, and spending is on track to go even higher this year.

 There were 656 employers registered during the 2010 legislative session, and 667 lobbyists.  That’s an average of about five lobbyists per legislator.  By comparison, in the 1998 General Assembly, there were 480 employers and 531 lobbyists registered.

 Three years ago, The Center for Public Integrity gathered the total number of lobbyists in each state and divided it by the total number of legislators.  On average nationwide, there are five lobbyists for every state legislator.  In the states surrounding Kentucky, Illinois had 12 lobbyists per legislator, Indiana averaged four per legislator, Ohio had 10, West Virginia had three, Virginia had seven, Tennessee had three, and Missouri had five lobbyists per legislator.  

 As in Kentucky, total lobbying spending in Washington, D.C. has more than doubled in recent years, from $1.56 billion in 2000 to $3.49 billion in 2009, according to calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics, based on data from the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records.

 Likewise, the number of lobbyists registered to lobby Congress has increased from 10,403 in 1998 to 13,754 in 2009.  

Lobbying Spending for the 2010 General Assembly

A breakdown of the $8.4 million spent on lobbying in the 2010 General Assembly shows that businesses and organizations employing lobbyists spent almost $7.9 million of the total. 

 Additionally, lobbyists spent about $536,000, mostly on office expenses ($518,000), along with receptions, meals, and events to which groups of legislators were invited ($18,000).  Lobbyists reported no money spent on meals for individual legislators. 

  The organization that spent the most on lobbying in the session was the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), representing businesses which manufacture or market non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines. 

 CHPA registered to lobby on March 8, and spent over $311,000 in the last month of the session, including $303,000 on phone banking.  CHPA represents several companies which employ lobbyists in Kentucky, including GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer, and Purdue Pharma, but CHPA was last registered to lobby in Kentucky in 2005.

  The second biggest spending employer in the 2010 session was Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco.  Altria employed 31 lobbyists and spent $170,000 lobbying on House Bill 296, which would have changed the excise tax on moist snuff and other tobacco products.  Included in Altria’s total is $27,000 spent on phone banking.  Altria’s 2010 spending was over two and one-half times more than the company spent in the 2008 General Assembly.

  The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce spent over $105,000 on lobbying in the 2010 session, compared with $92,000 in the 2008 General Assembly.

  Other top-spending employers for 2010 include Kentucky Retail Federation ($83,900); Kentucky Education Association ($81,800); Kentucky Medical Association ($77,000); Wellpoint – Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($72,700); Kentucky Bankers Association ($72,300); Kentucky Hospital Association ($70,700); Kentucky Association of Health Plans, Inc. ($64,000); and University Health Care, Inc. ($61,700).

  Wellpoint-Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($40,100 in 2008) and the Ky. Association of Health Plans ($17,600 in 2008) significantly increased spending in the 2010 session compared with the last 60-day session.  The other top-spending groups spent similar amounts in both years.

  Of the 656 employers registered with the Ethics Commission for the 2010 General Assembly, 90 employers reported that they paid no compensation to any lobbyist during the 2010 session.  Among those which registered, but apparently did no lobbying in the session:  Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, Inc.; Communications Workers of America; DaVita, Inc., (one of the biggest spending employers in 2008 and 2009); Food With Wine Coalition; Kentuckians For Better Transportation; Kindred Healthcare, Inc.; Kentucky Oil & Gas Association; LifeLock, Inc.; Museum Plaza, LLC; Novartis Pharmaceuticals; Time Warner Cable; and United Mine Workers of America.

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Libertarian Party condemns Rand Paul

News stories about Rand Paul, the Republican Senate nominee from Kentucky, frequently refer to his Libertarian background. But the Libertarian Party of Kentucky issued a statement Tuesday distancing itself from Paul.

Here’s the statement:

Independence, Ky. – The Libertarian Party of Kentucky strongly condemns the hurtful comments of Republican senate candidate Rand Paul.

Rand Paul belongs to the Republican Party of Kentucky, an association which he makes of his own free will.

Dr. Paul’s sole libertarian credentials come from Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, former adversary Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson, and many in the mainstream media.

 In an effort to clear our good name, we make this public statement.

Rand Paul is not a libertarian. There are clear differences between the Libertarian Party, including the philosophy upon which is it based, and the philosophy and campaign rhetoric of Rand Paul.

While the Libertarian Party shares some stances traditionally associated with the Republican Party, the LP also shares common ground on positions traditionally associated with the Democratic Party, and not always for the same reasons.

We are an alternative to the two party system, not constrained by the model that defines both major parties.

Libertarians want a complete repeal of the PATRIOT Act, closure of Guantanamo Bay, and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rand Paul has stated that he wants to continue military detentions at Guantanamo Bay, a retroactive official declaration of war by Congress, and has denied that he seeks to overturn the PATRIOT Act.

In further contrast, libertarians want to provide a mechanism by which non-traditional couples can receive equal protection under the law. Rand Paul has voiced his support of the discriminatory “one man, one woman” definition of marriage and his opposition to any other civil contract option.

In 2009, social conservatives in Kentucky outlawed adoption by anyone not living in a traditional, legally-recognized marriage – a concept so extreme that even family counselor and conservative talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has opposed it. The Libertarian Party stood in strong opposition to this legislation. Rand Paul has acknowledged that he agrees with his party in this, squarely placing himself at odds with the Libertarian Party of Kentucky and libertarians nationwide, who have a strong record of fighting these inequities.

 The Libertarian Party of Kentucky has primarily avoided being involved in the race for US Senate to date, other than to defend our party and the philosophy upon which it is built, and we intend to continue avoiding involvement.

Rand Paul’s statements regarding all forms of discrimination are not consistent with, nor do they reflect the views of, the Libertarian Party of Kentucky. Rand Paul does not speak for us or for our party. We condemn all bigotry based on any and all factors.

 The Libertarian Party of Kentucky is the official state affiliate for the Libertarian Party, America’s third largest political party. Founded in 1971, the Libertarian Party prides itself on a history of fighting for oppressed members of society and the rights of all citizens. More information is available on our website, http://www.LPKY.org.

What is a Libertarian?

Many news commentators refer to Republican Rand Paul, the GOP nominee for the Kentucky seat in the U.S. Senate that Sen. Jim Bunning has held for the past six years as a libertarian.

What is a libertarian?

Here’s the party’s platform from its website www.lp.org

National Platform of the Libertarian Party

Adopted in Convention, May 2008, Denver, Colorado

Preamble

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.

In the following pages we have set forth our basic principles and enumerated various policy stands derived from those principles.

These specific policies are not our goal, however. Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands. 

Statement of Principles

We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.

We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life — accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action — accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property — accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

1.0    Personal Liberty

Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.

1.1    Expression and Communication

We support full freedom of expression and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology. We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others. We oppose government actions which either aid or attack any religion.

1.2    Personal Privacy

We support the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.

1.3    Personal Relationships

Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.

1.4    Abortion

Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

1.5    Crime and Justice

Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited to violation of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Individuals retain the right to voluntarily assume risk of harm to themselves. We support restitution of the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer. We oppose reduction of constitutional safeguards of the rights of the criminally accused. The rights of due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, must not be denied. We assert the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.

1.6    Self-Defense

The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights — life, liberty, and justly acquired property — against aggression. This right inheres in the individual, who may agree to be aided by any other individual or group. We affirm the right to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. We oppose all laws at any level of government requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition.

2.0    Economic Liberty

A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.


2.1    Property and Contract

Property rights are entitled to the same protection as all other human rights. The owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy, their property without interference, until and unless the exercise of their control infringes the valid rights of others. We oppose all controls on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates. We advocate the repeal of all laws banning or restricting the advertising of prices, products, or services. We oppose all violations of the right to private property, liberty of contract, and freedom of trade. The right to trade includes the right not to trade — for any reasons whatsoever. Where property, including land, has been taken from its rightful owners by the government or private action in violation of individual rights, we favor restitution to the rightful owners.


2.2    Environment

We support a clean and healthy environment and sensible use of our natural resources. Private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in maintaining natural resources. Pollution and misuse of resources cause damage to our ecosystem. Governments, unlike private businesses, are unaccountable for such damage done to our environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection. Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights in resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems. We realize that our planet’s climate is constantly changing, but environmental advocates and social pressure are the most effective means of changing public behavior.

2.3    Energy and Resources

While energy is needed to fuel a modern society, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. We oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production.

2.4    Government Finance and Spending

All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.  We oppose any legal requirements forcing employers to serve as tax collectors. Government should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.

2.5    Money and Financial Markets

We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We support a halt to inflationary monetary policies, the repeal of legal tender laws and compulsory governmental units of account.


2.6    Monopolies and Corporations

We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association. We seek to divest government of all functions that can be provided by non-governmental organizations or private individuals. We oppose government subsidies to business, labor, or any other special interest. Industries should be governed by free markets.

2.7    Labor Markets

We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment. We oppose government-fostered forced retirement. We support the right of free persons to associate or not associate in labor unions, and an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union. We oppose government interference in bargaining, such as compulsory arbitration or imposing an obligation to bargain.

2.8    Education

Education, like any other service, is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Schools should be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and parental involvement. Recognizing that the education of children is inextricably linked to moral values, we would return authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. In particular, parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.


2.9    Health Care

We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system. We recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want, the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions.


2.10    Retirement and Income Security

Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. We favor replacing the current government-sponsored Social Security system with a private voluntary system. The proper source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.

3.0    Securing Liberty

The protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of government. Government is constitutionally limited so as to prevent the infringement of individual rights by the government itself. The principle of non-initiation of force should guide the relationships between governments.

3.1    National Defense

We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world and avoid entangling alliances. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.

3.2    Internal Security and Individual Rights

The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security. This requirement must not take priority over maintaining the civil liberties of our citizens.  The Bill of Rights provides no exceptions for a time of war. Intelligence agencies that legitimately seek to preserve the security of the nation must be subject to oversight and transparency. We oppose the government’s use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law.

3.3    International Affairs

American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and its defense against attack from abroad. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.

3.4    Free Trade and Migration

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade.  Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries.  Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.  However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a threat to security, health or property.


3.5    Rights and Discrimination

We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should not deny or abridge any individual’s rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs.

3.6    Representative Government

We support electoral systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels.  As private voluntary groups, political parties should be allowed to establish their own rules for nomination procedures, primaries and conventions. We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns. We oppose laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives.


3.7    Self-Determination

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of individual liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to agree to such new governance as to them shall seem most likely to protect their liberty.

4.0    Omissions

Our silence about any other particular government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination should not be construed to imply approval.

Weight loss tip

Want to lose weight?

Run for office.

It works, County Commissioner Mike Riney said at Thursday’s Fiscal Court meeting.

“The last time I had serious opposition in a race, I lost 25 pounds” from campaigning, Riney said.

He wasn’t campaigning this year, though. Riney decided to retire at the end of this term on Dec. 31.

Rand Paul already on the hot seat

Bowling Green’s Rand Paul won the Republican nomination for Jim Bunning’s Senate seat Tuesday night.

And he hasn’t had time to catch his breath yet.

First, there was the appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America.

 “Some people find it a bit ironic that your victory party last night was at a private country club,” said interviewer Robin Roberts “Doesn’t that send a mixed message there?”

Paul replied: “I think at one time, people used to think of golf and golf clubs and golf courses as being exclusive. I think in recent years now you see a lot of people playing golf. I think Tiger Woods has helped to broaden that, in the sense that he’s brought golf to a lot of the cities and to city youth, and so now I don’t think it’s nearly as exclusive as people once considered it to be.”

Then came allegations that he was opposed to the Civil Rights Act.

Jonathan Chait wrote in a blog on  The New Republic’s webiste: “It’s fascinating to watch Rand Paul dodge and weave on the question of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Paul holds a position, standard to libertarians but alien to mainstream politics, that the government had no business forbidding businesses and employers from discriminating on the basis of race. Paul is honest enough not to abandon that position. But he’s not honest enough to defend it openly. So instead, every time he’s asked a question on the topic, he changes the subject. He’ll start saying that he personally opposes racial discrimination, or that the government has no business discriminating on the basis of race, or that we shouldn’t deny the free speech rights of racists, or that we shouldn’t limit the rights of people to carry weapons into restaurants. He repeatedly insists that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was mostly about voting and government discrimination, which is both untrue and a dodge.”

Democrats were filling  e-mail boxes across the country with copies of blogs like that.

So, Thursday morning, Paul e-mailed his own statement.

Here it is:

“I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person.  I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation.  Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

 “Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.”

 “As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years.”

 “My opponent’s statement on MSNBC Wednesday that I favor repeal of the Civil Rights Act was irresponsible and knowingly false. I hope he will correct the record and retract his claims.”

 “The issue of civil rights is one with a tortured history in this country. We have made great strides, but there is still work to be done to ensure the great promise of Liberty is granted to all Americans.”

 “This much is clear:  The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs.  Just look at the recent national healthcare schemes, which my opponent supports.   The federal government, for the first time ever, is mandating that individuals purchase a product.   The federal government is out of control, and those who love liberty and value individual and state’s rights must stand up to it.”

 “These attacks prove one thing for certain:  the liberal establishment is desperate to keep leaders like me out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign.”

 The general election is still 5 1/2 months away. It’s going to be interesting.

Smith-Wright not first woman to lead city voting

Some may be wondering if Pam Smith-Wright’s first-place finish in Tuesday’s Owensboro City Commission primary election marked the first time a woman finished atop the pack in a City Commission race. The answer is no. That distinction goes to the late Olive Burroughs, who was the top vote-getter in the City Commission primary in 1996.

Burroughs, a telephone operator who had been a city commissioner for only a year and the first black woman to ever serve on the commission, received 3,454 votes. Attorney Jim Wood was second with 3,052 votes and Dick Moore finished third with 2,850 votes.

Burroughs finished first in nearly half the precincts. That primary also saw David Johnson finish in eighth place and Charlie Castlen finish in ninth place. Both are members of the current City Commission.

Six months later in the 1996 general election, Moore jumped to  the top of the voting while Burroughs finished second. Bill Van Winkle and Wood rounded out the commission. Wood beat fifth-place finisher Johnson by 130 votes.

The 1996 general election was the year incumbents Alan Braden and the Rev. R.L. McFarland failed to be re-elected.

Owensboro escapes flooding

Last weekend’s heavy rains didn’t cause serious flooding in Owensboro, a fact not lost on city officials.  Owensboro City Manager Bill Parrish said the rain gauge at Fire Station No. 4 recorded 5.07 inches of rain.

During Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, Parrish said storm water projects completed in the last several years are working to reduce flooding after storms. The city has devoted $27 million toward its storm water master plan initiative.

“We had some minor flooding, but areas that typically flood did not,” Parrish said. “… There’s been dramatic improvement.”

“It’s great driving around the city and seeing those streets clear,” Mayor Ron Payne said.

City Engineer Joe Schepers said the completed Goetz Ditch project has agreatly lleviated problems in such areas as Byers Avenue and Placid Place, which were typically inundated in past years when thunderstorms swept through the city.

The Scherm ditch and flood basin project, although not finished, is already showing results, Schepers said. The 18-acre basin being dug at Scherm Road and Barren Drive is about 75 percent finished, but filled with water last weekend.

“We saw quite a bit of improvement,” Schepers said. “Water was lower in Wesleyan Park Plaza. We’re just getting started connecting the basin to the area, but the water had a place to go. … We’re not taking all the water to it, but a lot more. We’ve still got small pipes leading to it. After this Phase III project, it will be a lot better. The theory is working. When we get the Scherm ditch project done, we expect to see the same results as we’ve had with the Goetz ditch.