The good times roll on for lobbyists in 109th

The steady growth of Washington lobbying firms seems unlikely to abate in 2005, as lobbyists predict that unfinished business from the last Congress and a bevy of new issues will keep them busy well into the new year.

Many of K Street’s top priorities from 2004 — legal reform, the energy bill, an overhaul of bankruptcy laws — did not pass Congress last year and are expected to receive attention again this year, a situation that keeps revenue flowing into lobbying coffers.
The steady growth of Washington lobbying firms seems unlikely to abate in 2005, as lobbyists predict that unfinished business from the last Congress and a bevy of new issues will keep them busy well into the new year.

Many of K Street’s top priorities from 2004 — legal reform, the energy bill, an overhaul of bankruptcy laws — did not pass Congress last year and are expected to receive attention again this year, a situation that keeps revenue flowing into lobbying coffers.
 
RAHIEM

Much of last year’s unfinished business will jockey for attention with new issues such as Social Security reform and a renewed interest in telecommunication laws, both of which will be heavily lobbied.

The start of a new Congress and a second term for the president is a time ripe for new lobbying efforts, lobbyists said. It also marks a shift in attention away from the elections, which dominated the Washington political sphere last year and diverted interest away from legislative initiatives.

The lobbying world has enjoyed robust growth in recent years, consistently setting revenue records, according to PoliticalMoneyLine. Federal lobbying revenues topped $1 billion in both the second half of 2003 and the first half of 2004, the most recent figures available. Reports showing revenues for the second half of 2004 are due Feb. 14.

“There are a number of factors that come together right now that strongly suggest it will be a very active year,” said Jeffrey Peck, a partner at Johnson Madigan Peck Boland & Stewart. “It’s the beginning of a second term. You have a change in the House, a number of changes in the Senate … so you have a fair number of new members of the Senate that start with a great level of enthusiasm, plus a number of issues held over from last year. Things are already going fast and furious.”

Many of the bills that narrowly failed in the closely divided Senate last year are likely to come up early this year, now that Republicans have a more sizable 55-44 majority. The energy and class-action bills lost by a slim margin last Congress.

The Senate Republican leadership is likely to consider class-action reform and another heavily lobbied issue, bankruptcy reform, before the Presidents Day break.

Also topping the agenda were two issues of less interest to lobbyists, committee funding proposals and appropriations for relief efforts after the South Asian tsunami.

“I think it will be extremely busy for folks. There will be lots of opportunities to be successful for clients,” said T.J. Petrizzo, a principal at Bockorny Petrizzo.

Republicans hope that many of the issues that languished last year will enjoy new life this Congress. Aside from the corporate tax bill, few business-oriented bills passed last year.

“A lot of people in the lobbying community were pleasantly surprised to be able to get the [corporate tax] bill through. Aside from that, we came close on a couple things, and a lot of those are teed up to be advanced quickly,” Petrizzo said.