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East County News Service

February 2, 2016 (Sacramento) – Special interests spent a bundle on lobbying efforts in California last year—and in many cases, they got their money’s worth.

The biggest spender was the oil industry, oozing over $312 million into its efforts to influence legislators. Their efforts succeeded in weakening Senate Bill 350, a major climate change measure. Lawmakers removed a provision that would have required a 50 percent cut in petroleum use. 

Utilities including Sempra Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison spent a combined $1.3 million on lobbying at a time when the Legislature was weighing solar energy incentives and reforms of the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees the utility industry.

The healthcare lobby also forked out large sums.  The California Hospital Association infused $9 million and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan another $2.6 million on efforts to sway legislators. The Chamber of Commerce was another big spender, investing $4.3 million  to advocate for business interests.

Not all of the big spenders were representing corporate clients. Labor unions also weighed in, including the California State Council of Services Employees, which spent $6.2 million, and the California Teachers Association, which expended $2.3 million.

The American Civil Liberties Union spent $2 million on its efforts to protect civil liberties for Californians, while the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association spent $1.9 million standing up for taxpayers.

Nextgen Climate Action, an environmental group, spent $1.9 million lobbying for actions to address climate change, with some measurable successes--proving that when it comes to advocating for green causes or others, it helps to have plenty of green to spend.

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