Capitol Report Lobbyists spent $18.4M in last half of '17

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By WisPolitics.com

Interest groups spent about $2.7 million more to lobby the Capitol in the last half of 2017 as the state budget dragged on, compared with the same period in 2015, a WisPolitics.com review shows.

But the WisPolitics.com check of lobbying reports shows the outside groups that were most active to close out 2017 generally weren't lobbying about the budget, but a host of other issues.

That includes workers' compensation, which pitted Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce against the Wisconsin Hospital Association. The two were the fourth and fifth biggest spenders from July 1 to Dec. 31.

MEANWHILE, Marsy's Law for Wisconsin devoted all of its time to the Assembly and Senate versions of a bill to add a new constitutional amendment that would outline further rights for crime victims.

Overall, lobbyists spent $18.4 million during the final six months of 2017, compared with nearly $15.6 million to end 2015.

For the last half of 2017, Americans for Prosperity was the biggest spender, pumping in more than $400,000 in its efforts to influence the budget and a series of other bills.

Marsy's Law of Wisconsin was No. 2 at $340,704, followed by: the Wisconsin Realtors Association ($330,680), Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce ($265,587), and the Wisconsin Hospital Association ($323,307).

HERE'S an overview of the efforts for the last half of 2017 by the top spending groups:

Americans for Prosperity: AFP is the only group in the top five that spent any amount of time lobbying on budget bills. In all, it devoted 17 percent of its time to that effort, including 2 percent on transportation.

The group spent about $400,832 over the final six months of last year, more than two-and-a-half times the $143,692 it spent to close out 2015.

Marsy's Law for Wisconsin: The group is the only one in the top five that does not have a lengthy history lobbying the Capitol. It registered for the first time in the last half of 2016, reporting just $15,000 and 19.5 hours trying to influence the Capitol.

The group spent $340,704 lobbying on both the Senate and Assembly versions of the constitutional amendment.

Wisconsin Realtors Association: A bill that would prohibit local governments from requiring property owners to merge adjacent lots owned by the same individual was one focus of the group. The association spent 10 percent of its time lobbying over the last half of the year on the provision, part of the so-called "Homeowner's Bill of Rights" that Walker signed in November.

Overall, it reported spending $330,680 to round out 2017, more than the $227,335 it spent in the last half of 2015.

WISCONSIN Manufacturers and Commerce: WMC spent $330,599 in lobbying the Legislature from July through December, compared with $265,587 over the last six months of 2015.

The group spent 13 percent of its time lobbying on a bill that would add a fee schedule for medical care to Wisconsin's workers' compensation law.

Wisconsin Hospital Association: The group spent the largest chunk of its time - 25 percent - lobbying on the topic of workers' compensation.

It also spent 20 percent of its time lobbying on the topic of Medicaid funding and payment-related issues.

Meanwhile, a total of 50 percent was spent on a series of bills, including one that would make various changes to the practice, licensure and certification requirements for nurses. It has yet to receive a public hearing in the Senate or Assembly.

In all, WHA spent $323,307 to lobby the Legislature over the last half of the year, a slight increase from the $310,005 it spent in the final months of 2015.

(Capitol Report is written by editorial staff at WisPolitics.com, a nonpartisan, Madison-based news service that specializes in coverage of government and politics, and is distributed for publication by members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.)

(c) Politics.com

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