Counties, cities spent millions lobbying the Legislature
The Nevada Independent
October 13, 2019
Local governments and cities spent more than $3.9 million lobbying the 2019 Legislature, according to a state report that found total lobbying spending by governments hit the highest amount in more than a decade.
The report, which was compiled by the state Department of Taxation, is the product of a law that requires all local governments — everything from cities and counties to police departments, school districts and hospitals — to disclose any expenditures above $6,000 on “activities designed to influence the passage or defeat of any legislation.”
After hitting a pre-recession high of $3.99 million during the 2007 Legislature, the $3.9 million spent on lobbying activities in 2019 marked the second highest spending totals reported since the disclosure law was passed in 2001 — good for nearly $32,600 of taxpayer money spent every day of the 120-day legislative session.
Local governments, which in some cases have budgets that rival or even eclipse the state’s budget, say that lobbying expenditures are justified given the vast number of bills — law enforcement, open meeting laws, financial administration and public records — that affect counties and cities. But some critics have raised concerns with allowing governments to use taxpayer dollars for lobbying purposes that may go against the wants of the public.
“What governments are promoting or pushing with lawmakers isn’t always in line with what taxpayers or citizens are going to want, and yet, us taxpayers are still funding it no matter what, even if we disagree with it,” Michael Schaus, a spokesperson for libertarian-leaning Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) said in an interview.
Initial reporting of lobbying expenditures were due a month after the end of the legislative session, but following several Nevada Independent requests to top lobbying-spenders, the Department of Taxation revised its report and issued a new version this week.