Lobbyist spending tops $8.4 million in Kentucky legislature

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Companies and special interest groups spent $8.4 million trying to influence Kentucky lawmakers this year, the most ever for a legislative session.

The Legislative Ethics Commission says it is the third consecutive year Kentucky has set a record for lobbyist spending. The top three spenders were all focused on one issue: cigarette taxes.

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Altria, the parent company for Phillip Morris USA, spent $332,000. That’s more than double the amount spent by any other group. The tobacco company objected to a proposal to raise the state’s cigarette tax. On the other side, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky combined to spend $270,293 supporting the tax increase.

Lawmakers eventually agreed to a 50-cent increase on cigarettes. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed it, but lawmakers overrode him.