The amount of money spent by lobbyists during the first six months of this year was down significantly, when compared to what was spent to lobby lawmakers during the previous state budget.

A report from the state Government Accountability Board shows about $17 million was spent this spring on lobbying activities at the Capitol. It’s a drop of about 28 percent from 2011, the last time lawmakers were negotiating the state budget. The number of hours spent lobbying lawmakers also fell by 25 percent.

GAB officials say a likely reason for the decline is that businesses and organizations have less money to spend on lobbying because of continued problems with the state’s economy. Also, labor-related organizations have had to drastically scale back lobbying efforts because of Act 10, the 2011 law that limited collective bargaining for public workers and impacted the ability of unions to collect dues from workers.

According to the report, lobbyists spent almost 41,000 hours working on issues tied to the 2013-2015 state budget, with health services and public instruction the top two subjects. When it came to actual bills, legislation making it easier to open an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin outpaced all other issues. Lobbyists spent 3,578 hours on the mining bills, which is about 27 hours per lawmaker.

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