Lobbyists spend $21,000 to keep Georgia lawmakers fed on final day

Lawmakers worked about 15 hours - with a few breaks - on the final day of the 2017 session last month.

Lobbyists worked their wallets almost as hard to keep them fed.

From mid-morning on March 30 to almost 1 a.m. the next day, lawmakers voted about 145 times, while also holding backroom meetings, welcoming family members and guests to the House and Senate floor, getting their ears bent by lobbyists and tearing up paper to throw when the final gavel of the session fell.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of filings shows lobbyists spent about $21,000, mostly on meals, and occasionally beverages, on the final day - and night - of the session.

That’s about typical. It usually costs in the neighborhood of $20,000 to feed lawmakers on the final day, even more if lobbyists pay big for a post-session party.

A lobbyist for the firm headed by longtime GOP lobbyist Jay Morgan reported spending $449 on a breakfast for senators. Two lobbyists representing the state trial lawyers spent $1,145 providing lunch to the House Democratic Caucus, while Michael Shelnutt, with McGuire Woods Consulting, which was still working hard on the final day to pass bills, reported spending $1,160 for a Senate Republican Caucus dinner.

Among many other issues it was working on, McGuire Woods represented the company pushing for legislation to provide a tax sales break to big yacht owners if they get their boats fixed at the firm’s boat yard in Savannah. The bill passed the Senate around 11 p.m. that night.

Lobbyists typically pay for an after-session party as well. A lobbyist for PruittHealth, the state’s largest nursing home company, reported spending $240 on March 31 for a “Sine Die Party.” A couple of other lobbyists reporting spending the same amount but listed it as a “dinner.”

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