Maryland's powerful teachers union topped the list of special interests paying to influence the General Assembly last session, spending $1,034,000 on lobbying lawmakers.

It's no surprise: One of the key issues before the legislature last session was reforming public pension systems. Others spending big bucks last session included the Maryland Retailers Association ($619,000) -- the group beat back attempts to hike amusement taxes.

The amounts were reported by the Maryland State Ethics Commission, which compiles reports on lobbying in the state. Both sides of the same-sex marriage debate were among the highest spenders.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national group that supports same-sex marriage, spent $380,000. That put the group at No. 7 on the list -- and they are playing an even more visible role this coming session.

The group vastly outspent an opposing advocacy organization, The National Organization for Marriage, which supports traditional marriage. NOM put $165,000 toward influencing the General Assembly.

The marriage bill passed in the Senate and cleared the House Judiciary Committee, but it was pulled from the House floor after a lengthy debate because leaders feared they were a few votes shy.

Other high spenders will sound familiar:
- Exelon, which is trying to merge with Constellation Energy, spent $216,000
- PPE Casino Resorts Maryland, LLC (which controls David Cordish's Arundel Mills casino) spent nearly $200,000 to have a voice in "any and all legislation relating to video game terminals."