Daviess Fiscal Court enters into a ninth year working with professional lobbying group MML&K Government Solutions.

For the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year, the court has agreed to a $50,000 contract with the Frankfort-based firm to aid in voicing the county’s political interests at the state capitol. The court works closely with MML&K lobbyist James Higdon, said Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly.

Professional lobbyists are people who are in the business of trying to influence legislation, regulation or other government decisions, actions or policies on behalf of a group or individual. Those that lobbyists represent span the gamut from local government, industry, individuals, nonprofits and special interest groups, to name a few.

In regard to MML&K and their relationship with the court, it is to ensure that the needs of Owensboro-Daviess County have a persistent voice among the sea of requests that flood Frankfort and the offices of the General Assembly. While some may question what it is that a lobbyists does, the real question is, “what don’t the do?” said Mattingly.

”They give us a daily presence in Frankfort year round,” he said. “Particularly during the legislative session. I am present during the legislative sessions 10 to 12 times and those are days that I am not in Daviess County. MML&K don’t take credit for what they do, as they should not. They don’t have a vote, but their presence makes it clear to members of the General Assembly what our intentions and needs are. They don’t overstep their bounds, but state officials know that when they speak they are speaking on behalf of Daviess County.”

Of the six elected legislators who represent Daviess County in Frankfort, Mattingly said only state Rep. Jim Glenn is the only one who doesn’t have multiple counties’ interests vying for attention at the state level.

Mattingly said a lobbyists provides another voice specifically for Daviess County.

”While they all do an excellent job in representing Daviess County,” he said. “They also have other counties that they have to take care of as well as the overarching responsibility of the General Assembly to lead the commonwealth. The lobbyists job is to solely represent Daviess County as opposed to elected officials who have to their constituents across various counties in many cases.”

Having the added presence of a lobbyist pounding the pavement in Frankfort extends the reach of local officials and aids them in getting to those across the state that are most vital in addressing the community’s needs, Mattingly said.

“Having a lobbyist does not minimize the capacity of our elected officials,” he said. “It increases it. MML&K were involved in our intervention with Cedar Hills and Friendly Village, which Representative (Suzanne) Miles was instrumental in addressing. In that situation, James (Higdon) would aid in setting up hearings and meetings.”

Mattingly said the lobbying firm has earned its fee through over the years by securing grants and advocating legislation that benefits Daviess County.

“Recently, we were awarded $300,000 in waste grants that we used to purchase equipment for our composting program and MML&K were instrumental in that process,” the judge-executive said. “Some may see that money and say ‘Lord have mercy, you spend $50,000 a year?’ Through their efforts, we were able to fully utilize House Bill 202 monies, which were initially open only to pay off bond indebtedness. They were instrumental in our movement to change the law so we could use those funds directly as opposed to only using those Convention and Visitors Bureau funds to pay debt. They (MML&K) were instrumental in helping us achieve that. Since then, we have been able to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to local arts organizations. As I said, the question isn’t what they do, it is what don’t they do?”

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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