The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce spent more than triple the amount of the next biggest spender on lobbying at the Legislature in 2016, according to a new report.
The chamber spent $2.3 million trying to influence legislation last year as it pushed an agenda of lower taxes and lighter regulation, according to the report released Thursday by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
Other business groups like realtors, electric utility Xcel Energy Services, private colleges, tobacco giant Altria, Polymet Mining, health insurers and hospitals contributed to the overall total of $57.7 million to lobby the Legislature, the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton and Metro municipal governments. Some entities have yet to report their spending.
Unions also spent heavily, with Education Minnesota and AFSCME among top spenders.
The League of Cities, Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and school boards spent a combined $1.7 million lobbying, which means government was lobbying government.
Dayton reacted to the report at a Thursday news conference. "All you have to do is walk down the corridor and you see a lot of people who are not volunteering," he said, referring to the plentiful lobbyists around the Capitol.
"Do people have a right to representation? Yes," Dayton said. "But when the only people represented here are the people who have money to be represented, then that skews legislation," he said.