WMC Tops Lobbying Groups in the First Six Months of 2017

August 29, 2017

About 700 trade and ideological groups, unions and businesses spent more than $18.8 million lobbying state government during the first six months of 2017.

The top-spending lobbying group between January and June was Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business organization, which doled out about $407,800 to lobby about 2,800 hours. The group is a political heavyweight when it comes to influence on state spending and policy, as well as election spending in legislative and statewide races.

WMC was followed by the Wisconsin Hospital Association, which spent about $328,500 on about 1,900 hours of lobbying. Rounding out the top three was the Transportation Development Association, which reported spending about $321,900 on 41 hours of lobbying. The association claims about 400 businesses, unions and government agencies.

Figures released by the Wisconsin Ethics Commission show that lobbying groups spent about 120,200 hours lobbying state elected officials and agencies between January and June 2017.

During the first six months of 2015, which is the most recent, comparable six-month period, special interests spent $18.5 million and 123,735 hours lobbying state government – roughly the same as this period.

In the first half of 2017, special interests spent about 25 percent of their time lobbying on the proposed 2017-19 state budget, which is about two months late because majority Republicans who control the Senate and Assembly cannot agree on how to handle transportation funding, among other issues.

The commission said lobbying groups spent nearly 31,000 hours lobbying on dozens of different areas of the proposed state budget. The top budget issues lobbied by the groups were Medicaid services and funding, transportation finance and public school state aid.

The top non-budget legislative proposals and the number of hours that lobbying groups spent on them were:

Assembly Bill 260, which would allow chiropractors to perform physical exams on student athletes, about 550 hours;

Assembly Bill 277, which would eliminate the state’s personal property tax, about 500 hours;

Senate Bill 76, which loosens state permitting and oversight of controversial high-capacity wells, about 420 hours. This measure was approved by the legislature and signed into law by the governor in June.