Virginia's bankers paid $32,462 earlier this year to lobby for a bill that eventually lifted the state's ceiling on credit-card interest rates.
It cost the state's condominium developers $15,226 to promote a bill that limited the power of local governments to regulate condo conversions.
And a huge New York-based energy firm that hopes to begin large-scale uranium mining in Virginia next year spent $58,548 backing a measure that established a state mechanism to allow for the exploration and drilling of the mineral.
These and other glimpses of Virginia's legislative process were seen today when the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office released its annual list of lobbyists' disclosure forms for the 1982 General Assembly session.
The forms showed that more lobbyists collected and spent more money than ever before to influence the course of legislation during this year's session--724 registered lobbyists in all received a total of$1,691,891 for two months of work. That represents a 45 percent jump over the previous year's session, an increase that Secretary of the Commonwealth Laurie Naismith said reflects the battles over major tax bills before the legislature this year as well as the impact of inflation on the lobbying industry.
"If you're going to entertain a committee or group of legislators, obviously you're costs are going up," Naismith said.
The wining and dining of the 144 part-time lawmakers ranged from opulent no-expenses-spared bashes thrown by groups such as the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Assocation to intimate candlelight dinners preferred by such veteran lobbyists as Mark Saurs of the Virginia Savings and Loan Association.
Both approaches may have had an impact. The beer wholesalers, who spent $15,978 for a lavish oysters-and-liquor reception at the John Marshall Hotel, were once again successful in killing a bottle-deposit bill pushed by environmentalists.
And Saurs, who spent $2,530 for evening entertainment--such as a $618 tab for the dining of eight unnamed legislators one night at the Le Petite France restaurant in Richmond--succeeded in steering through a series of bills broadening the lending authority of the state's troubled savings and loans.
As in previous years, the field was dominated by two "super lobbyists," whose powers of persuasion on behalf of the state's special interest groups have reached near legendary proportions.
One is Alexandria lawyer William G. Thomas, a former Democratic Party chairman, whose law firm collected nearly $105,000 from 12 different clients including Mobil Oil, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, condo developers and beer wholesalers.
The other is Richmond Edward E. Lane, a former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who sent $57,850 worth of bills to five clients, including the Virginia Food Dealers Association and the Marline Uranium Corp., the New York firm interested in the uranium legislation.
Not all groups spent a lot. The Virginia Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights reported $40 in expenses on behalf of no discernible legislation affecting its causes. And the Chickahominy Indian Tribe successfully lobbied for a joint resolution that created a Virginia Indian Affairs Study Commission. The lobbying cost to the tribe: $2,642.