Issues dealing with annexation, eminent domain and unfunded mandates are among the Leavenworth city commissioners’ top state legislative concerns.
Commissioners are scheduled to meet Dec. 15 with state lawmakers who represent the Leavenworth area.
Commissioners approved the city’s 2013 state legislative agenda earlier this month, and City Manager Scott Miller said he would provide the document to the local state legislators.
The legislative agenda is several pages long and lists issues under various categories such as transportation and public health and safety. An brief explanation accompanies each issue.
Miller told commissioners the agenda is virtually the same as one that was adopted last year.
Many of the issues listed in the 2013 state legislative agenda are marked as priorities items. These include annexation. Commissioners oppose any change to state law that would limit the authority of cities to grow through annexation.
When it comes to eminent domain, commissioners are asking for increased flexibility to use it for economic development purposes, including blight remediation, without having to obtain approval from the state Legislature.
Unfunded mandates are listed in the agenda as a priority issue.
“We continue to oppose unfunded mandates,” Miller said when he reviewed the legislative agenda with commissioners.
The legislative agenda also lists nutrient removal as a priority item. The city may be faced with upgrading its wastewater treatment plant to meet regulations for nutrient removal at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. This would be in addition to the money the city currently is spending for a disinfection project at the plant.
Commissioners are asking legislators to urge the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to evaluate the benefits and costs of alternative methods for nutrient removal.
Another priority item on the agenda concerns sales tax exemptions. The agenda expresses opposition to what is characterized as “the continued erosion of the state and local sales tax base by the passage of new exemptions.”
“Every year, the state passes new exemptions,” Miller said when reviewing the agenda.
Among the other priority items is one opposing any state imposed limits on the city’s taxing and spending authority. In the agenda, commissioners state they believe “local spending and taxing decisions are best left to locally elected officials and the citizens they serve.”