California lawmakers were busy in the second quarter of the year. So were the special-interest groups that lobby them.
Between April 1 and the end of June, lawmakers in Sacramento passed a controversial gas tax, put the breaks on universal health care and began negotiations on a cap-and-trade deal to extend the state’s marquee climate change program. During the same period, business groups, unions, nonprofits and other interests shelled out $91.2 million to influence officials. That’s $10 million more than they spent in the second quarter of the last legislative session.
In April the Legislature passed the largest road funding measure in California history, a $5.2 billion per year transportation and gas tax bill. To get it done, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders brought the California Chamber of Commerce, construction trades, truckers, cities and counties and other interests to the negotiating table.
The chamber, which supported Senate Bill 1, spent $724,260 on lobbying and landed in the top 10 of all lobbyist employers in the state during the second quarter. The association also played a key role in the cap-and-trade deal.
Brown and legislative leaders began serious talks about extending the state’s cap-and-trade program weeks before the Legislature in mid-July passed Assembly Bills 398 and 617. Leaders at the Capitol pointed out that an unusual coalition of environmental groups, business and oil interests rallied around the pair of bills.
Chevron, Western States Petroleum Association and Tesoro spent more money than any other lobbyist employers in the quarter. Chevron topped the list at $6.1 million and the other two dished out more than $2 million apiece. All three groups said they lobbied the climate change bills during the quarter, among other issues.
In early June, the Senate passed Senate Bill 562 to create a universal health care system in California. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon shelved what he called a “woefully incomplete” bill later that month, ending the measure’s progress for the year.
The California Nurses Association, which sponsored the universal health care bill, spent $528,228 to influence officials during the quarter.
The California Hospital Association and the California Medical Association are the only other groups in health care that spent more money than the nurses to influence officials in the second quarter. The hospitals spent $752,666 and did not list SB 562 as one of the many measures it lobbied. The medical association spent $556,614 during the quarter and reported SB 562 as one of the bills it lobbied.
About 125 other lobbyist employers, including the chamber, Anthem, Pfizer, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Blue Shield of California, reported that they lobbied the bill in the first six months of the year.