Auditor Blaha Releases 2020 Local Government Lobbying Services Report - July 29, 2021

Contact: Donald McFarland | 651-236-0494

Minnesota legislature has an opportunity to impact local government costs

Saint Paul, MN – Earlier today, State Auditor Blaha released the 2020 Local Government Lobbying Services Report, which showed local governments and their associations spending over $10 million in 2020 to advocate for their communities.

“Over the past five years, local government expenditures have increased by 11 percent on staff and contract lobbyists,” said Auditor Blaha. “When adjusted for inflation, the increase is approximately 4 percent.”

“As the Minnesota Legislature makes changes based on what they learned from operating remotely, they have the chance to impact the cost of local government’s public policy work,” said Blaha. “We owe it to those who struggled during the pandemic to learn all we can from our responses to COVID-19.

“Part of local government lobbying costs are driven by the logistics of engaging with the legislature. Options to participate in hearings and committee meetings remotely may reduce travel costs, particularly for entities in Greater Minnesota,” added Blaha.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Local governments spent a total of $10.0 million on lobbying activities in 2020. This represents an increase of $311,252, or three percent, over the amount spent on lobbying services in 2019. Of the $10.0 million spent on lobbying in 2020, $5.5 million was attributable to local governments using their own staff or hired contract lobbyists, while $4.5 million was attributable to the lobbying activities of associations of local governments.
  • In 2020, 115 local governments (five more than in 2019) reported that they directly employed staff or hired contract lobbyists. These local governments spent a total of $5.5 million on staff and contract lobbyists. This was $409,998, or eight percent, more than in 2019.
  • Ten of the 115 local governments that directly employed lobbying staff and/or hired contract lobbyists reported over $100,000 in lobbying services expenditures, for a total of $2.2 million. These ten local governments accounted for 41 percent of the total amount paid to contract and staff lobbyists in 2020.
  • From 2016 to 2020, total expenditures on staff and contract lobbyists grew 11 percent. The amount spent by those using only contract lobbyists grew five percent; the amount spent on those using only staff rose nine percent; and the amount spent by those using both contract and staff lobbyists increased 20 percent.
  • Local governments paid dues of $12.9 million in 2020 to local government associations that also represented their interests before legislative, administrative, or other governmental bodies. These associations spent $4.5 million on lobbyists and lobbying in 2020, a decrease of two percent from 2019.
  • Among the 25 local government associations that lobbied the Legislature on behalf of their local government members, 12 associations reported expenditures on lobbying/lobbyists in excess of $100,000 in 2020. These 12 associations accounted for $3.9 million, or 86 percent, of the total lobbying expenditures of associations in 2020.

Click here to view the complete report.