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Influence: A booming business

Record $1.3 billion spent to lobby state government

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The influence industry in state capitals continues to grow, as state lobbyists and the companies and organizations that hire them spent a record of almost $1.3 billion in 2006, according to the Center for Public Integrity's sixth-annual review.

As legislative sessions open in January, lawmakers and lobbyists are certain to be busier than ever. In 2006, also an election year in most states, the nation's 7,400 state legislators passed more than 33,000 laws and spent an estimated $1.3 trillion in taxpayer money, according to The Fiscal Survey of States for 2007, released jointly by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers.

More companies and organizations were signed up to send their own representatives to the statehouse: more than 56,000 in 2006, compared to just fewer than 50,000 in 2005. The total number of lobbyists remained about 40,000, still averaging out to more than five lobbyists for each lawmaker.

In the 43 states that reported lobby expenditures for 2006, the $1.3 billion total was almost a 10 percent increase in reported spending from 2005. And in those 43 states, the average spent per legislator on lobbying was more than $200,000.

Of the 42 states that provided totals in both 2005 and 2006, 21 recorded an increase in lobby spending.

As with each annual review, lobby spending disclosure laws vary widely from state to state. And a state disclosure agency's ability to pull together an overall total from thousands of records can change from year to year.

In 2006, due to a new law mandating disclosure of lobbyist salaries and fees, Florida moved into the third spot for most spending reported, from 27th when lobbyists were only required to report other spending.

Florida joins 27 other states that require that the salaries and fees paid to lobbyists be disclosed.

Connecticut did not provide lobby spending totals in 2005, but did so in 2006.

In Nevada, the legislature only meets in odd-numbered years, and lobbyists only disclose spending in those years. For that reason, no data was available in 2006.

The remaining six states that did not provide a total for this report were: Alabama, Arkansas, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.