Bill Bars Use Of Tax Dollars to Lobby KS Legislature

Feb 12, 2013

Opponents and supporters of the bill packed a committee room at the Kansas Statehouse.
Credit Stephen Koranda

Supporters and opponents of a bill that would bar local governments and public entities from spending tax dollars on lobbying gathered Monday.

The bill would affect the abilities of cities, counties and universities to support or oppose legislation and make it a crime to spend public money on lobbying.

Manhattan Mayor Loren Pepperd says lobbying helped them get an airport, and allows them to stay on top of what’s happening in Topeka.

He says he talks to their local lawmakers, but that’s not enough.

“They only know really what their bills are, what they want to do," says Peppard. "They don’t know the overall what’s going on up here. My lobbyist gives me that.”

Supporters of the bill say it would level the playing field between local governments and average citizens, who don’t have lobbyists.

A gun-rights group also supports the measure, because it would bar local governments from lobbying against firearms bills.

Patricia Stoneking, with the Kansas State Rifle Association, says she’s tired of seeing that.

“I’ve always questioned the validity of encountering opposition at those hearings from lobbyists being paid with taxpayer funds, public funds, to lobby against a legal product in the state of Kansas," she says.

The chair of the Senate committee says he doesn’t know if or when they would take any action on the bill.