Danedri Thompson
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Gardner’s city council will weigh in on whether the state should require guns be allowed in city buildings, but members will pass on whether to weigh in on carry and conceal and open carry laws in the state of Kansas.
That was the consensus after a lengthy debate about the city’s legislative agenda. The legislative agenda is a list of policy positions the council holds on matters that the Kansas Legislature may address in its next term.
Initially, the legislative platform asked that existing laws that allow citizens to openly carry weapons be brought in line with carry-and-conceal laws that require those who wish to carry a concealed weapon to take a class and get a license. Mayor Dave Drovetta said he wrote that portion of the legislative platform.
It read, “…While the city of Gardner supports rights afforded under the second amendment (sic), we believe that current statute regarding open carry is incongruous with current conceal laws and the two should be similar. We would support the requirement of a permit for open carry with the same guidelines as conceal carry.”
Kristina Harrison, council member, said she would prefer to remove that portion of the city’s platform, because it deals with personal rights that do not affect city business. She said the city’s official stance should be based on things that impact city business.
“When we start talking about individual rights – we’re a governing body. That’s where citizens should spend their votes,” she said.
Council members struck that segment from its legislative platform, but kept another gun-related item that would allow cities to determine whether to allow guns in their buildings.
It reads, “The city of Gardner believes local government should have the ability to address carrying concealed weapons in public facilities at the local level.”
During recent legislative sessions, legislators have drafted legislation that would require municipal buildings to allow guns unless they also have airport-type scanners or security measures in place.
Council member Heath Freeman asked that the city add one position to its platform that would show its support for limiting and enforcing fraudulent agricultural designations on land that is not being used for farming.
Currently, agricultural land is taxed at a lower rate than land designated commercial, industrial or residential.
Council member Larry Fotovich said there are parcels of land in residential neighborhoods where hay bales, that weren’t created on the property, are brought in to maintain the ag designation in order to garner a lower tax rate.
Council briefly considered adding such a stance last year at Fotovich’s request, but decided against it. This year, the platform item is included.
In addition to gun and tax appraisal issues, the city’s legislative platform also includes the support of legislation that retains and enhances its home rule authority. For example, the city platform voices support for state-local pass through programs that feed state revenue collection to the city’s budget.
The platform opposes legislation that would impose unfunded mandates on the city council and opposes any regulations that would limit the amount of revenue local governments can raise or spend on a yearly basis.
The platform also supports the authority for city councils to impose sales taxes and opposes any changes in the definition of machinery and equipment that would decrease the amount of taxes the city collects.
The 2013 legislative agenda also weighs in on a number of transportation issues including support for capacity improvements at Interstate 35 and 175th Street and a third lane between the Lone Elm Road interchange on I-35 to the county line.
The city also asks for assistance in relocating the weigh station between Gardner and the Lone Elm interchange.
A complete copy of the city of Gardner’s 2013 legislative agenda is available on the city website.