Sedgwick County last week adopted a list of priorities it would like to see state lawmakers take up during the 2018 legislative session.
The annual platform lays the groundwork for the county's lobbyists and governmental representatives.
Sedgwick County is looking for state support for economic development initiatives, mental health services funding and changes to the election commissioner’s budget oversight and mail-in ballots.
Commissioner Richard Ranzau requested a position statement be added to the platform that says Sedgwick County will support legislation that requires voter approval for all state tax increases.
"We need to stand up for our constituents who get hammered from all directions at the state, local, federal level with taxes and stuff," Ranzau said. "At some point, they need to be able to voice their opinion about whether enough is enough."
Ranzau created an amendment to add the position statement to the county’s platform. It passed in a 4-1 vote.
Commission Chairman Dave Unruh was against the proposal, saying it wasn’t necessary.
“Once again, I’ll say I don’t think one elected body should be telling another elected body how to do their business,” Unruh said.
The 2018 platform is calling on the state to designate Sedgwick County as an “urban area” as authorized in the Kansas Constitution.
For mental health services, Sedgwick County also wants to push the state to define the future role of the Osawatomie State Hospital system, develop a system of regional state-operated inpatient units and insure adequate reimbursement for inpatient units.
The county also wants the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to provide support and sustained funding for local crisis stabilization services that can serve as alternatives to inpatient stays for some individuals.
Sedgwick County also supports a policy change to suspend, rather than terminate, Medicaid eligibility during incarceration.
The 2018 platform also includes secondary initiatives to consider within county departments.
Chairman Unruh calls the platform “easy to explain,” and is optimistic lobbyists will be able to advance the key issues.
County officials plan to post the 2018 Legislative Platform online after final revisions are completed.
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