SACRAMENTO -- California businesses and other special interests quickly learn that playing politics in the ornate chambers of California’s Capitol building is more like a barroom brawl than a civics lesson about how bills become laws.
Most days, businesses large and small dispatch squads of hired-gun lobbyists to vie for lawmakers’ attention and votes.
And that lobbying doesn't come cheaply. Last year special interests reported spending $277.5 million on such advocacy, according to the Secretary of State's office.
Billions of dollars are up for grabs in a lobbying free-for-all for economic advantage, privilege and, sometimes, the public good. This year, 1,526 registered lobbyists stalk the halls and hearing rooms in the service of 2,410 clients.
The competition ratchets up starting Tuesday as legislative committees consider the first of 2,233 bills introduced before a Feb. 22 deadline.