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Lobbying activity in the Legislature increased by more than a million dollars in 2016, Common Cause Nebraska reported Thursday in its annual lobbying survey.

Last year, 543 groups or entities paid 364 lobbyists $16.7 million to lobby state senators, the watchdog organization stated.

In 2015, lobbying activity amounted to $15.6 million.

"Lobbying must pay off since the investment grows with each year," Common Cause stated in releasing its newest report.

In 2016, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce topped the Common Cause list of organizations that spent the most on lobbying legislators. But the League of Nebraska Municipalities headed the five-year spending total.

The Chamber's 2016 figure was listed at $218,000; the League's five-year total was $951,000.

Heading the list of lobbying firms in terms of income was Mueller Robak at $1.5 million in 2016, Common Cause stated.

Other million-dollar firms included Radcliffe and Associates and O'Hara Lindsay.

Common Cause reported $462,000 in lobbying activities by school districts in 2016, topped by Omaha, Millard, Bellevue, Lincoln and Ralston in that order.

Lobbyist-sponsored campaign fundraisers continue to occur during the legislative session, the organization noted.

"The senators are in town, the lobbyists are in the Rotunda and the bills are on the floor," Common Cause stated. "It is estimated that thousands of campaign dollars can be raised at breakfast just an hour before senators vote."

Twenty-nine states prohibit in-session fundraisers, Common Cause pointed out.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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