Archive for Friday, April 27, 1990

WINTER CHANGES MIND ON PROPOSAL

April 27, 1990

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Douglas County's effort to get a law through the Kansas Legislature that would validate the south Lawrence trafficway is on hold.

County officials last week asked local legislators to introduce the bill in the wrapup session. Although Reps. Betty Jo Charlton, Jessie Branson and John Solbach all expressed varying degrees of skepticism about taking action before the Kansas Supreme Court hands down a decision in the trafficway case, Sen. Wint Winter Jr., R-Lawrence, was supportive of the proposal.

But Winter said Thursday that he's thought more about the proposal and decided not to push for the bill.

"At this point, I'm not going to (introduce the bill). I don't know that anybody is," Winter said. "I think we ought to let the court do its thing."

Winter said county officials haven't pressed him this week to introduce the bill.

The senator also said his decision had nothing to do with the rumors circulating around Topeka Wednesday that the court could issue a ruling on the case any day. County officials said last week they decided to pursue legislation now because the court wasn't expected to issue a decision until May 25, several weeks after lawmakers adjourn.

In the case, Leslie W. Blevins Sr. of Lawrence claims that the county commission overstepped its home rule powers in issuing $4 million in general obligation bonds for the trafficway without holding a public vote.

Ron Keefover, information officer for the court, could not confirm whether a decision in the trafficway case is imminent. The justices don't announce in advance when they're going to hand down a decision, he said.

Winter said he's optimistic that the court won't invalidate the bonds.

"I think the biggest reason the court had for withdrawing its opinion was the danger to taxpayers. I think there's clear evidence the court has heard that and reacted to it," he said. While he can't guess how the court will decide, "surely they won't let taxpayers hang out there," Winter said. "I think they know there are people all over the state who are nervous about this thing."

Winter said that he would pursue legislation, possibly even calling for a special session, if the court's decision threatened a default on the bonds.

Saying she was uncomfortable with the idea of taking legislative action before the case was resolved, Branson said she "will be greatly relieved" if the court does rule this week.

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