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Sedgwick County commissioners are divided over a bill in the Kansas Senate that would ban the use of taxpayer money to lobby the state legislature.
Commission Chairman Jim Skelton joined commissioners Dave Unruh and Tim Norton in approving a resolution stating opposition to Senate Bill 109. Unruh said the bill would have the effect of not allowing cities and counties to have a lobbyist in Topeka to work on behalf of local communities. Unruh said it would also prohibit cities and counties from joining statewide associations, such as the League of Kansas Municipalities and the Kansas Association of Counties, which get involved in lobbying activities.
Skelton called the bill "an attack on our free democratic system." He said elected officials could only testify on issues before the legislature if they are invited to Topeka.
Commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau voted against the resolution because they support the senate bill. Peterjohn said the bill would still allow all county commissioners and local elected officials to speak as citizens and provide input on legislative issues.
Peterjohn said there should be a public debate on the use of tax funds to lobby the legislature, and it should be reported how much money is being spent on the funding of government lobbyists.