Lobbyist Spending Won’t Be Known for Months

Sep 28, 2017

Legislators aren’t the only ones who returned to the Capitol for the special session.

If it’s anything like the regular session, lobbyists will be picking up the tabs for pricey dinners and drinks during the days or weeks to come. Lobbyists spent almost half a million dollars on meals and gifts for lawmakers and other public officials during the spring session.

A loophole in the state’s ethics rules will hide their spending to influence the special session until Jan. 15, 2018.

That’s because the rules specifically say lobbyists only have to report monthly during “regular legislative sessions and a single report for the interim between regular sessions.” The rules go on to say “an extraordinary session does not change the reporting schedule.”

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It’s not clear how active lobbyists will be during the special session. A review of the last special session, in 2013, found that lobbyists spent $1,251, but the session was restricted to fixing tort reform laws.

The call for this year’s special session is broader than in 2013. Tax increases on oil and gas, wind, motor vehicle fuel and dozens of services have all been discussed. And if budget cuts are required, everyone from teachers to health care providers will be angling to avoid the toughest cuts.