A controversial bill in the Kansas Legislature would bar local governments or public entities from spending tax dollars on lobbying. That would affect the abilities of cities, counties and universities to support or oppose legislation. The bill would make it a crime to spend public money on lobbying.
Supporters and opponents packed a Senate committee room yesterday to sound off on the bill.
Manhattan Mayor Loren Pepperd says lobbying helped them get an airport, and allows them to stay on top of what’s happening in Topeka. Pepperd 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. They don’t know the overall, what’s going on up here. My lobbyist gives me that,” says Pepperd.
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,” says Stoneking
The chair of the Senate committee says he doesn’t know if or when they would take any action on the bill.