Business groups top lobbying list

Business groups representing manufacturing, real estate, construction, health care and farming spent the most money lobbying Wisconsin lawmakers in the first six months of the year. 

The top five for spending were: Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, $348,511; Wisconsin Realtors Association, $324,436; Wisconsin Infrastructure Investment Now Inc., $312,264; the Wisconsin Hospital Association, $304,405; and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, $304,403.

The rest of the top 10 included: Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, $242,817; Wisconsin Property Taxpayers Inc., $213,180; Americans for Prosperity, $201,165; the Wisconsin Counties Association, $186,460; and Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association Inc., $142,184.

The expenditure reports lobbyists file can include a variety of expenses such as communications, overhead, staff time, research time, office space, utilities, supplies, parking and more.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce was the top spender over the six-month period, with $348,511 in expenses to lobby the Capitol. That’s roughly in line with the $742,499 WMC spent during the first 12 months of the session. 

WMC spokesman Nick Novak told the group generally focuses on issues related to the economy and lately has been focusing on issues related to the state’s workforce shortage and others affecting businesses. He said he could not provide more specific details because WMC’s chief lobbyist was on vacation last week and he would know those details. 

Wisconsin Infrastructure Investment Now Inc., a group that advocates for investing in transportation, energy, mining and other infrastructure projects, did not log any hours spent lobbying but put all the money spent into communications.

Overall, lobbying totaled $16.5 million during the first six months of the year, up from the $15.5 million during the same period two years earlier as the COVID-19 pandemic ground activity in the Capitol to a halt by mid-March.

But it’s less than the $17.5 million spent for the same period of the 2017-18 session. 

Over the first 18 months of the two-year session, groups have put $52.2 million into their lobbying efforts, compared to $50.1 million for the same period of the 2019-20 session.

See more details in the Friday Report: