Garden City and Finney County signed off on their 2015 legislative policy documents this week, an annual task that lists a variety of policies and issues the governing bodies will ask elected representatives to advance during the next legislative session that starts in January.
The city’s legislative policy included versions for both federal and state elected officials. The city also signed off on a legislative policy document as part of the Southwest Kansas Coalition with member cities Dodge City and Liberal — plus Hays, which has been added as an associate member of the group.
Both the county and city want the Legislature to amend the available uses of revenue received from the Enhanced 911 grant.
Garden City, Finney County and other public entities have committed to a seven-year funding plan to complete a $2.3 million upgrade of the emergency radio communications system resulting from mandated changes in radio frequency assignments.
Both policy platforms ask for legislation to be enacted that would let revenue be used for recurring charges, capital improvements and other emergency communications related improvements, which they argue will reduce the local property tax burden for mandated communications system improvements.
According to the city’s summary position, the issues included in the policy positions ensure core government services for city residents remain intact and places emphasis on “roads, public safety, passenger rail, commercial air service, and airport infrastructure along with protection from unfunded mandates.”
The city also supports undiminished Home Rule powers, including the ability to adequately provide for managed growth through annexation and the proper use of eminent domain.
“The following agenda identifies these and other core areas of legislative importance to Garden City as well as specific items we are asking our delegation to address during the 2015 session,” the document states.
On other policy issues, the city supports transportation infrastructure, including state investment in rail modernization to preserve passenger/freight rail service in western Kansas; restoration of demand transfers; Kansas open meetings and records laws; as well as a water policy that lets the city meet current and future water needs while also protecting resources.
Other sections include support for policies that aid housing efforts, improve the path to citizenship for immigrants, and support air transportation and Airport Improvement Program funding. The city opposes unfunded mandates and attempts by FEMA to add new special flood hazard areas.
Many of the legislative issues in Finney County’s legislative platform generally support those included in the Kansas Association of Counties 2015 legislative policy.
Some of the county’s policy goals include:
Opposition to expanded property tax exemptions for machinery and equipment, and specifically anything that would expand the exemption to include fixtures due to concerns about eroding the property tax base; support for the right of local officials to advocate and participate on matters of local interest that are being considered by the legislature; opposition to new unfunded mandates; and urging the Legislature to carefully review any sales or property tax exemptions to prevent a loss of revenue that would adversely affect taxpayers.
The county also urges the Legislature to review oil and natural gas taxation requirements, repeal the severance tax and find a more equitable method to tax stored resources, such as taxation on production only.
On other issues, the county supports full state funding for mandated community corrections and grants, and supports clean water standards, taking into account cost-benefit analyses and a desire for regulations to not be unduly restrictive.
The county opposes any mandatory consolidation of government units and/or services, noting that Finney County, Garden City and Holcomb currently participate voluntarily in a number of consolidated service programs, and wish to preserve the ability to choose.