Lobbying hit record $3.5 billion in 2009

Health care and business interests led the way as clients spent a record $3.5 billion on lobbying last year, prompted by Obama administration drives to reshape federal policy for the medical, financial and energy industries.

Amid a stagnant national economy and the worst unemployment in nearly three decades, lobbying expenditures grew by 5 percent from the $3.3 billion spent in 2008, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The growth also came despite efforts by President Barack Obama to curb lobbyists’ influence.

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The figures underline the vast and growing sums that industries, unions and ideological groups are spending to shape laws and regulations. Put another way, the $3.5 billion is about half what the government expects to spend this year on the entire federal court system.

Makers of pharmaceuticals and health products spent $267 million lobbying, the most ever recorded by a single industry in a year. [Read the full article]

Fitch Ratings assigns an ‘A-‘ rating to the following Marco Island, Florida’s utility system revenue bonds:

–The system is highly leveraged, as is common for recently acquired systems, with above average capital needs.

–Once the current sewer conversion project and corresponding WWTP expansion are completed, capital needs should decrease as the system is approaching build out and infrastructure is reportedly in good condition.

–High rates are partially offset by high wealth levels and the city council’s demonstrated willingness to increase them as needed to maintain adequate coverage.

–The area economy is heavily concentrated in tourism leading to significant demand fluctuations throughout the year.

The system will need to balance its capital needs while maintaining adequate debt service coverage and liquidity. [Read the full article]

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The Dow and S&P 500 dipped on Friday as China’s move to curb bank lending and U.S. and European economic data raised fears the global recovery might be in jeopardy.

Even so, Wall Street stocks ended off the day’s lows as investors bet the European Union would come up with a clearly defined plan to aid debt-laden Greece and restore confidence in countries using the euro.

Stock laggards included large manufacturers and commodity-related companies, many dependent on Chinese demand. On the Nasdaq, bargain-hunting in technology helped the index to end slightly higher.

But aluminum company Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA – News) fell 2.2 percent to $13.28, while conglomerate United Technologies Corp (NYSE:UTX – News) shed 1.5 percent to $65.69 and bellwether General Electric (NYSE:GE – News) dipped 1.4 percent to $15.55. [Read the full article]
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) issued the following statement regarding the Assembly vote on the nomination of state Senator Abel Maldonado to serve as Lt. Governor:

“The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) is disappointed with the state Assembly vote not to confirm State Senator Abel Maldonado Lieutenant Governor.

This son of immigrant farm workers has a long history of public service, from the City council in Santa Maria to the state Senate, where he serves as its first Latino Republican.

His nomination as Lt. Governor of the nation most populous state shows the progress Latinos have made and are making at the highest levels of leadership in the country. If confirmed, he will be the first Latino Republican to serve in the state second-highest legislative office in modern times. [Read the full article]

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