Capitol Alert

California lobbying tops $300 million in 2015

State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, center, answers a question about Senate Bill 350 last summer. The bill was a focus of extensive lobbying in 2015.
State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, center, answers a question about Senate Bill 350 last summer. The bill was a focus of extensive lobbying in 2015. AP

Oil companies, businesses and other interest groups spent $312.7 million on California lobbying efforts and other payments to influence in 2015, up 11 percent from 2013.

The oil industry topped the list of big spenders. The Western States Petroleum Association’s tab totaled $10.9 million, the most of any group in the state, and Chevron Corp., the state’s fifth-largest lobbying employer, dished out another $4 million throughout the year. The industry spent millions to soften Senate Bill 350, the governor’s sweeping climate change bill that passed last year after amendments removed a measure requiring a 50 percent cut in petroleum usage.

The California Hospital Association and the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems ranked second in the state and spent $9 million as the medical industry took sides on controversial bills related to out-of-network medical charges, penalties for hospitals that refuse to treat drunk patients and a $2 tax on tobacco sales.

The California State Council of Service Employee came in third, with a $6.2 million lobbying bill last year, while the California Chamber of Commerce spent $4.3 million. The groups were on opposite ends of AB 525, which modified franchise agreements between a franchisee and its corporate parent, among other issues.

Parsing out detailed information about the amount of money lobbyist employers spent on particular issues is difficult under the current filing requirements. A catch-all category called “other payments to influence” allows groups to lump expenses that don’t meet the state’s definition of lobbying, anything from office overhead to a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign. The rules change later this year, forcing groups to itemize “other” payments.

Other payments to influence made up 28 percent of all lobbyists spending, which is the most money dumped into the category since at least 2010. Direct lobbying expenses accounted for 69 percent of the total.

The year-end data, which was filed to the secretary of state through the Cal-Access website, included reports from 3,315 lobbyist employers. In 2013, the first year of the last two-year session, 3,196 groups submitted reports to the state.

Jim Miller of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report. Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

Big lobbying spenders

Here are the 10 entities that spent the most on lobbying the state Capitol in 2015.

Lobbyist employer

Amount

Western States Petroleum Association

$10.9 million

California Hospital Association

$9 million

California State Council Of Service Employees

$6.2 million

California Chamber Of Commerce

$4.3 million

Chevron Corporation and subsidiaries

$4 million

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.

$2.6 million

California Teachers Association

$2.3 million

American Civil Liberties Union (California)

$2 million

Nextgen Climate Action

$1.9 million

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

$1.9 million

Source: California secretary of state

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