Danedri Thompson
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A provision Gardner City Council members added to the city’s legislative platform last year may be gaining a tiny bit of traction. During a meeting earlier this month, council members adopted a list of policy positions they hope legislators will consider during this year’s session.
According to Laura Gourley, city finance director, one item on the agenda may be gaining notice of a wider audience. The city’s 2013 legislative positions included a request that lawmakers consider allowing public entities to expand investment opportunities. Currently, state statutes limit how cities and other public bodies can invest.
Gourley said when she first last year brought the idea up of expanded investment opportunities, she was almost universally shot down. However, other organizations have taken interest in the idea since then.
The Eastern Kansas Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has taken up the cause.
“Basically, over the last two years, the cause is growing,” Gourley said. Other public entities have made enquiries about expanded investment opportunities.
“And we’ve basically banded together to push a little harder,” she explained.
Gourley said Gardner was probably the first to complain about stipulations in state law that only allow nine public entities in the state to have expanded investment powers.
“We were probably the first to officially add expanding investment opportunities to our (legislative) agenda,” Gourley said. “I don’t check around on that, but we were the first ones to complain, at least loudly enough that other people said, ‘hey, yeah. Me, too.’”
In addition to expanding investment powers, the city’s 2014 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 collections to the city’s budget.
The Gardner platform also opposes any legislation that would impose unfunded mandates on the city council, and opposes 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.
Several items regularly appear on the city’s legislative agenda, and on the platform of many other public entities. For example, Johnson County’s legislative platform voices similar proposals. Gardner council members also joined the county in opposing any legislation that would require city elections be conducted with partisan identification.
The 2014 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.
The 2014 legislative agenda can be viewed on the city’s website.