ATLANTA -- The types of bills passed in the last two legislative sessions don't bear a close resemblance to the types of groups making the most candidate contributions during the 2010 campaign.
Of the $88 million contributed to all legislative and statewide candidates in the most recent election, the largest types came from lawyers and lobbyists, 12 percent, the health industry, 12 percent, and finance/insurance/real-estate industry for 10 percent, according to calculations from the group Follow the Money displayed on the website of Common Cause of Georgia. What they classified as general business amounted for another 6 percent. Labor gave 2 percent.
Single-issue/ideological groups gave 4 percent, the same amount as the government/social agencies gave.
A look at the volume of what was introduced and passed may raise the question of which groups got their money's worth.
About 2,000 bills were introduced in the two-year General Assembly, at least one-third were strictly local, such as the required update of county and school-board election districts. About 300 general bills passed.
Of the 14 bills assigned to the House Banks & Banking Committee, just four passed, or 29 percent. Other committees handling business-type legislation yielded fewer bills that made it to the governor's desk for his consideration.
The House Economic Development & Tourism Committee produced just two bills of the 13 assigned to it for a 15 percent passage rate. The Ways & Means Committee that considers tax breaks for various industries was flooded with 162 proposals, the most of any House committee, but it only passed 22 or 14 percent.
On the other hand, the success rate for social-services type committees was higher despite the significantly lower level of contributions from those professions. The House Education Committee passed 27 of the 86 bills assigned to it, or 31 percent. That's twice the pace of the business legislation.
The House Health & Human Services Committee passed 31 of its 90 bills or 34 percent.
The numbers alone don't tell the whole story, of course.
Consider that in many cases, a bill that benefits one industry penalizes another. That kind of confrontation often leads to industries on both sides of the question making contributions and investing in lobbying campaigns to protect their interests.
On the other hand, several of the social bills passed by the Republican-controlled legislature run contrary to the aims of the professional educators and social workers. For example, the legislature passed a constitutional amendment this year that, if voters support it, establish a mechanism for creating and funding charter schools over the objections of local educators.
Many groups like Common Cause support limits on campaign contributions, arguing that corporate interests have disproportionate influence at the Capitol. Legislative leaders continue to resist.