Gay-marriage backers, Philip Morris added to Minn.'s $1M lobbying list

Groups interested in gay marriage, tobacco issues joined business interests, teachers union as biggest state spenders.

A new report found that the successful campaign to legalize gay marriage and the unsuccessful effort to block cigarette and tobacco tax increases both spent more than $1 million on lobbying in Minnesota last year.

The report, released Tuesday by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, shows that the pro-gay marriage Minnesotans United and Altria Client Services, the parent company for Philip Morris, joined the million-dollar spenders for the first time in 2013.

Only three organizations spent more to influence state and local government: business groups and the teachers union.

With spending of more than $2 million, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce led the way on lobbyist spending, as it often does. The chamber along with the Minnesota Business Partnership increased their spending in 2013. The chamber spent $100,000 more than it had in 2012, and the Business Partnership spent $600,000 more, for a total of nearly $1.5 million in 2013.

The two business groups successfully batted back proposed business-to-business tax increases in 2013. A sharp income tax increase on the wealthy, however, did pass, along with some smaller tax increases on businesses transactions. This year’s Legislature is looking at repealing business tax increases.

Education Minnesota’s lobbying spending came in $1.2 million in 2013, just behind the business groups. That, too, was an increase from 2012 but was still slightly less than what the teachers union spent in 2009.

According to reports filed so far, the state’s more than 1,000 lobbying organizations spent a little more than $70 million to influence the administration and state and local officials in 2013. That appears to be a slight increase in total spending from 2012.

Some previously big lobbyists, however, spent less.

In 2012, the Minnesota Vikings spent $610,000 on lobbying, and they spent $840,000 in 2011. But last year, after the Legislature passed and Gov. Mark Dayton approved plans for a new football stadium, the Vikings organization’s lobbying spending fell to $180,000.

About 100 lobbying organizations missed the deadline to file reports on their 2013 spending. Their cash outlays are not yet reflected in the total.

See all the groups that spent more than $100,000 on lobbying at startribune.com.

 

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Twitter: @RachelSB

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