LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Lobbyists could play a bigger role next year as an especially large class of freshmen lawmakers and a governor-elect with little previous political experience take office.
Lobbying already is big business in Lansing. The nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network says Michigan lobbyists reported spending $17.8 million on public officials' meals, travel, lodging, gifts and tickets to events the first seven months of 2010.
Last year, lobbyists spent at least $32.1 million. Secretary of state figures show the state had 2,783 registered lobbyists last year, 500 more than in 1999.
Lobbyists say they play an important role in educating lawmakers on the issues and giving a voice to those affected by lawmakers' actions.