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Kansas government sector lobbying

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Taxpayer-funded lobbying is government to government lobbying. Counties, cities, school districts, public facilities, and associations of public employees frequently use public funds to influence legislation and appropriations at the state and federal levels.

This practice is controversial because public funds are spent to lobby for an agenda not subject to direct approval by voters, and outcomes may be contrary to taxpayers' benefit.

According to a legislative testimony, local government in Wichita and Sedgwick County for the city, county, and local school district spends nearly $1.4 billion on lobbying.[1]

Disclosure

Kansas citizen John Todd testified before the Kansas Legislature House Committee on Federal and State Affairs in support of a bill that would require municipalities to report lobbying expenses in 2008.[1] House Bill No. 2775 would require cities that engage in lobbying to file state reports disclosing the name of the person or firm or association paid to lobby as well as costs related to lobbying.[2] Cities would have to report governmental expenditures including dues paid to associations, groups, or organizations that lobby. Presumably, current Kansas disclosure requirements allow municipalities to bypass disclosing specifics.

The last bill activity had the House recommending the bill be passed with amendments.[2]

Ethics

Todd (see "Disclosure") in his testimony supporting House Bill 2775 to require cities to report lobbying notes three specific instances where taxpayer-funded lobbyists helped block legislation that would benefit citizens.[1]

"During the 2006 and 2007 legislative sessions government lobbyists and their associations opposed popular reform efforts in the area of eminent domain.

In previous legislative sessions government lobbyists were successful in blocking two attempts to obtain Municipal Court Reform that would have allowed the election of Municipal Court Judges by the people. A third attempt at Municipal Court reform was opposed by a lobbyist from the Kansas Supreme Court itself, resulting in this measure never making it out of committee."

Todd also noted that municipalities and local governmetns lobby several times over, contracting their own lobbyists and paying dues to belong to government sector lobbying associations that lobby on their behalf.[1]


School government sector lobbying

Member school districts of the Kansas Association of School Boards were budgeted $275 per pupil (over $5,000 more per 20 member classroom) for 2008.[3]

Kansas Association of School Boards hired 13 lobbyists throughout the 2007 legislative session, apparently with the purpose of influencing the increased sales taxes during the session. The success of this would have meant that the member school districts of KASB would receive more funding if property taxes were increased.[3]

Public universities

Kansas State University spent $80,000 of taxpayer dollars to hire the lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates to promote its legislative agenda in 2003.[3]

The University of Kansas spent $40,000 to pay the same firm in 2005.[3]

Public transit government sector lobbying

The Kansas City Area Transit Authority spent $40,000 for lobbying representation from Patton Boggs, LLP, in 2008.[3]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying associations

The following is a list of Kansas government sector lobbying associations by type:

City and municipal

County


Emergency services

Justice

School

Other


External links

References