2016 may well go down as the Year of the Lobbyist in Michigan.
The Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) dug into the numbers and discovered spending on lobbying was higher in 2016 than any other year: lobbyists spent $39.99 million last year, which broke 2015's record of $38.7 million.
Craig Mauger from the MCFN joined Stateside to explain why the dominance of one party in Lansing has contributed to the 25% rise in lobbying expenditures since 2010.
"Basically, it's a lot easier to get smaller things done when one party is in control," said Mauger. "Usually, it's a lot easier to just about get anything done because there's not one party blocking bills or holding bills up, compared to the federal level where the last few years we've seen divided control. Republicans controlling the Legislative branch, President Obama in the Oval Office. They haven't been able to get a ton done and lobbyist spending at the federal level has actually gone down. And a lot of that spending has transferred to states like Michigan where the legislature has been extremely active."
Mauger says lobbyists are required to file reports twice a year disclosing how much money they spent. The spending on the reports is divided into three broad categories: food and beverage, mailings, and the most broad category of them all, "other expenses."
Listen to the full interview above to hear who some of the biggest interest groups are in Michigan, and what our guest thinks are the pros and cons of lobbying.