Meeting With Local Lawmakers

Local control and funding for transportation projects were among the issues discussed when Leavenworth city commissioners met with state lawmakers.

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Commissioners met Tuesday state Sen. Tom Holland as well as Jeff Pittman and Debbie Deere.

Pittman and Deere were both elected last month to the Kansas House of Representatives.

Pittman, a Democrat, will represent the House's 41st District, which includes portions of the city of Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth.

Deere, a Democrat, will represent the House's 40th District, which includes a portion of Leavenworth and most of Lansing.

Holland, also a Democrat, was re-elected last month to the Senate's 3rd District which includes western Leavenworth County.

The next legislative session in Topeka will begin in January.

During Tuesday's meeting, City Manager Paul Kramer reviewed legislative issues that are considered important to the city government.

Kramer said the city has benefitted from funding from the Kansas Department of Transportation for local road projects.

But as funding is cut for KDOT programs, the cost of the projects is being pushed to local taxpayers, he said.

"You're not saving the public any money at the end of the day," he said.

Kramer also expressed opposition to the state's tax lid law.

The law will place restrictions on cities and counties when it comes to collecting increased property tax revenue that exceeds the rate of inflation. The law includes exemptions and local governments also can increase tax revenue with voter approval.

Kramer said city officials support replacing the law's election requirement for increasing taxes with a mechanism that would allow people to file protest petitions against tax increases.

Even with such a change in place, Kramer said he does not believe there would be a protest petition in Leavenworth. Kramer said city commissioners are elected to represent the residents.

"The city commissioners are acting in their best interest anyway," he said.

Pittman asked if it would be best to get rid of the tax lid law.

Kramer noted that the city's legislative agenda also includes a request for the outright repeal of the law.

Another issue discussed was the city's lack of control over whether municipal employees can carry firearms while on the job.

Because of a state concealed carry law, Kramer said the city government cannot prohibit employees from carrying firearms while they are working.

Kramer said this causes an insurance liability issue.

"It is a huge risk," he said.

Commissioner Mark Preisinger said private employers have the right to tell employees they cannot carry firearms while at work.

"Right now, we don't have a say in it," he said.

Preisinger said it is a local control issue.

"That's a local decision, not a Topeka decision," Preisinger said.

Holland said he has a problem with the idea of city employees who are non-emergency personnel carrying firearms onto private property while they are working.