Traffic flow on Kansas 7 Highway and the regulation of political signs in public rights-of-way were among the topics discussed Friday when Leavenworth city commissioners met with state lawmakers.

Traffic flow on Kansas 7 Highway and the regulation of political signs in public rights-of-way were among the topics discussed Friday when Leavenworth city commissioners met with state lawmakers.

Each year in December, city commissioners meet with state legislators who represent portions of Leavenworth County.

State lawmakers will begin their 2019 legislative session in January.

In addition to the five city commissioners, Friday's meeting was attended by state Reps. Jeff Pittman and Jim Karleskint as well as state Rep.-elect David French.

Leavenworth Mayor Mark Preisinger said multiple bills will come up during the legislative session that may impact the city and local schools. He asked the lawmakers to contact city and school district officials in their districts regarding the potential impact of bills.

"We've had representatives that never even called the city, never called the school district," he said.

For Friday's meetings, Preisinger reviewed the City Commission's 2019 legislative agenda. The document lists various state legislative issues that commissioners consider important to the city.

"We have quite a few things," Preisinger said.

The legislative agenda includes issues related to transportation.

Preisinger specifically discussed traffic lights on K-7 south of Lansing. He said there has been a proliferation of traffic lights on K-7 over the years.

"It does have a negative effect on potential business growth in the county," Preisinger said.

He said officials with companies that consider doing business in Leavenworth are interested in the city's proximity to interstates. But he argued the traffic lights on K-7 increase the time it takes to travel from Leavenworth to Interstate 70.

Preisinger said a master plan for K-7 calls for it to be an expressway.

"We just want help with (the Kansas Department of Transportation) and you guys control the purse strings there," he said.

Pittman, whose Kansas House of Representatives district includes much of the city of Leavenworth, noted there are several traffic signals on K-7 inside the city of Leavenworth.

"Yeah but that was never intended to be a 65 mph road," Preisinger said, referring to the stretch of K-7 in Leavenworth.

Another issue discussed Friday concerned regulations for political signs.

The city does not allow the placement of political signs, or other signs, in rights-of-way.

A state law allows the placement of political signs in rights-of-way. But Preisinger said this law conflicts with a U.S. Supreme Court decision. And the city has continued to prohibit signs in rights-of-way.

Preisinger said under the Supreme Court decision, signs have to be treated equally regardless of content.

But the state law only applies to political signs.

Pittman expressed frustration with what he described as a sweep by city officials during the recent campaign that resulted in the confiscation of political signs from rights-of-way.

He argued that candidates could have been contacted and given a 24-hour period to address the problem.

French, who was elected last month to represent Lansing and a portion of Leavenworth in the Kansas House, said candidates have little control over where supporters place signs.

City Commissioner Mike Griswold said candidates do have a responsibility regarding the placement of signs for their campaigns.

There was disagreement among commissioners regarding the scheduling of municipal elections.

Elections for city and school board offices previously took place in the spring of odd-numbered years. A few years ago, state lawmakers moved municipal elections to the fall but they still take place in odd-numbered years.

The city's legislative agenda argues for city elections to remain non-partisan and separate from state and national elections, which take place in even-numbered years.

"Is somebody pushing you to become partisan?" French asked.

Pittman said the issue comes up every few years.

Preisinger said he personally would like to see municipal elections moved back to the spring of odd-numbered years. He said having the elections in November creates too long of an election season for city candidates.

Griswold said he believes in keeping city elections non-partisan. But he prefers having them take place in the fall. He said people know elections occur in November.

He said having the elections in the fall also gives newly elected commissioners a chance for a transition period.

Other issues discussed during the meeting include funding for mental health services and laws governing the release of police body camera videos.

Commissioners had a separate special meeting before meeting with the state lawmakers. During the special meeting, commissioners met behind closed doors for 30 minutes to discuss financial information and trade secrets of a company. The discussion was related to an economic development opportunity.

No action was taken when commissioners returned to open session and no details were released about the potential economic development project.

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