RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - More companies and groups in Virginia are getting into the political influence game ahead of a legislative session than they have in past years.
Lobbying data collected by the Virginia Public Access Project shows that 86 companies and groups, like business associations, registered lobbyists for the first time between May and December last year.
That's highest number since at least 2007 and up from 54 the year before.
Much of the increase was driven by the cannabis and gambling industries. Virginia is expanding its medical marijuana program and momentum is building to decriminalize small amounts of the drug.
Lawmakers will also be considering a wide variety of gambling-related bills this year, from expanding sports betting to allowing casinos.
The session starts next week.