Archive for Saturday, August 9, 2003

Legislators ask, ‘Why Topeka?’ for state offices

August 9, 2003


— Just because the Statehouse is here doesn't mean major state government operations have to be run from here.

At least that's what several lawmakers said during a recent meeting of the House-Senate Building Committee.

Kansas Department of Administration Secretary Howard Fricke told the committee his agency was conducting a study to determine state government office needs for the next 20 years.

Fricke has indicated the two major state office buildings -- Landon and Docking -- might need to be razed because it wouldn't be cost-effective to spend the at least $91 million needed to fix them.

Fricke also said some state operations and offices could be located outside the central Topeka area.

That caused some lawmakers to ponder whether major state operations had to be in Topeka at all.

State Sen. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac, asked why, with modern communications, "Do people have to be in sight of the Capitol? Can we serve Kansas just as well putting it outside Topeka?"

State Sen. Greta Goodwin, D-Winfield, also warmed to the idea, saying it was just as easy for state employees in western Kansas to communicate with the main office in Topeka as it was for state employees in Topeka to communicate with each other.

She said if state jobs and functions were spread across Kansas, more Kansans would have a stake in the political decisions made in Topeka.

Fricke said it would be up to the various agencies to decide whether they could relocate functions. He said his study of office space needs would be turned in to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius by early October.

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