Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Lawrence often in legislative crosshairs

Lawmakers try to keep city in line with more conservative counterparts

February 19, 2007

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Maggie Childs, chairwoman of the Kansas Equality Coalition chapter in Lawrence, and Thomas Witt, state chairman for the Kansas Equality Coalition, visit before giving testimony last week against a proposed bill that would prohibit a domestic partnership registry in Lawrence. Behind them is Steve Maceli, of Lawrence, who also spoke against the bill.

Maggie Childs, chairwoman of the Kansas Equality Coalition chapter in Lawrence, and Thomas Witt, state chairman for the Kansas Equality Coalition, visit before giving testimony last week against a proposed bill that would prohibit a domestic partnership registry in Lawrence. Behind them is Steve Maceli, of Lawrence, who also spoke against the bill.

— When someone in the Legislature says, "There goes Lawrence again," Barbara Ballard doesn't back down.

"We are proud of the fact that we support the rights of all people," said Ballard, a Democratic legislator from Lawrence.

It's no secret that Lawrence, the seat of Douglas County, marches to the beat of a different political drummer compared with the rest of Kansas.

Lawrence has been described as an island of Democratic blue in a sea of Republican red. Unlike most of Kansas, Lawrence repeatedly supports Democratic presidential candidates and was the only Kansas county in 2005 that voted against a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

So, often during the legislative session, something that Lawrence has done, or plans to do, gets targeted by Kansas lawmakers.

Domestic registry

This year, Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, has filed legislation to prohibit Lawrence's proposed domestic partnership registry. And business lobbyists are urging lawmakers to pre-empt Lawrence and other cities from setting a local minimum wage that is higher than the federal one.

In 2005, some lawmakers tried to advance a bill prohibiting "living wage" ordinances in response to one adopted in Lawrence, which applied only to employees working for companies that received city tax breaks.

"We all know that Marxism is alive and well only in academia," state Rep. Mike Kiegerl, a Republican from Olathe, mused during that debate - and he was taking Lawrence's side.

In addition, Kansas University - the city's biggest economic engine - frequently is under legislative scrutiny from conservatives for its budget and public policy, ranging from embryonic stem cell research to sex education.

Politics and coal power

Ballard and other Lawrence officials say the legislative battles go with the territory.

"Obviously when you are different than the masses, you are going to be singled out," she said.

City Commissioner David Schauner said, "I think that Lawrence is a leader on a lot of fronts, and sometimes the more conservative Legislature is resistant."

Anti-Lawrence sentiment was ratcheted up a notch late last year when Lawrence city commissioners wrote a letter opposing a proposed coal-burning power plant in western Kansas.

Many in western Kansas resented what they said was Lawrence sticking its nose in the business of another region.

Environmentalists and others said Lawrence and the rest of the state would have to live with the ill effects of the plant for generations.

But the political reality is that the Legislature is run by lawmakers from western Kansas: Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, and even House Democratic Leader Dennis McKinney of Greensburg.

Local control

Ballard said Lawrence's House delegation didn't criticize the coal power plant, and that she would appreciate the same hands-off consideration from other lawmakers when it comes to Lawrence.

"We don't come to your city," she said. "It's a local control issue."

Local control was on the front burner during a hearing last week on a bill that would prohibit cities from enacting domestic partnership registries, like the one under consideration in Lawrence.

Kinzer pushed the ban, saying that in part, the registry is part of a strategy by gays and lesbians to win through courts some legal rights that they can't win through the political process.

But Maggie Childs, chairwoman of the Kansas Equality Coalition of Lawrence-Douglas County, said the registry is the result of political wins because a majority of the Lawrence City Commission supports the registry.

"They are our elected representatives, and any attempt by lawmakers from other cities to ban the registry makes a mockery of our constitutional right to home rule, and of our right to elect people who represent us," she said.

Comments

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

The majority of the Kansas legislature has adopted the Koch bothers and the state chamber of commerce neoconservative attitudes that they no longer represent mainstream america. Sticking with Reagan/Bush values cannot be healthy for Kansas. Western Kansas had better wake up and find some new moderate thinkers for their survival.

Lawrence Kansas is far more mainstream than this legislature ever hoped to be.

oldgoof 8 years, 3 months ago

Merrill: "The majority of the Kansas legislature has adopted the Koch bothers and the state chamber of commerce neoconservative attitudes" .. Oldgoof says give it a rest. This is not true. Example one: TABOR has gone nowhere in Kansas, even in a watered down form. And, by the way, the repubs from Western Kansas are more moderate than many of those from your neighbors in Olathe and Johnson County. . Like it or not, Merrill, this state is much more conservative than Lawrence. The legislature reflects that. That is all.

Rationalanimal 8 years, 3 months ago

""We all know that Marxism is alive and well only in academia," state Rep. Mike Kiegerl, a Republican from Olathe, mused during that debate - and he was taking Lawrence's side."

Mr. Kiegerl clearly is unaware of the Lawrence political landscape. The City Commission administers CPR to Marxism on a regular basis.

preebo 8 years, 3 months ago

What is really interesting, is that Kansas may be socially conservative, but it is in no way fiscally conservative. I found it totally astonishing that Kansas taxes its residents more then Massachusettes does. It is somewhat ironic that you have a "red" state that has some of the highest tax rates in the nation. It is, in a way, an analogy of this Bush-era conservative movemment going on in our nation.

kuhusker 8 years, 3 months ago

Can a city secede from the state?

One can dream...

Rationalanimal 8 years, 3 months ago

"Can a city secede from the state?

One can dream..."

The United States of the City of Lawrence, its real if you believe its real. Esse est percipi.

preebo 8 years, 3 months ago

Cool,

Could not agree with you more. I read that as soon as I moved here from Cambrige, Mass. It really provides great perspective.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 years, 3 months ago

preebo, There are more people in Massachusetts, so you can spread the tax burden around. One could say that we have fewer people, so we don't need as much money, but I'll bet we have more roads than Massachusetts.

Rationalanimal 8 years, 3 months ago

preebo, your assertion that Kansas state personal income taxes is among the "highest tax rates in the nation" is just flat wrong. Liberal bastians like California, Vermont, New Jersey, DC, etc, blow Kansas away. In fact, Kansas is fairly moderate. Read for yourself: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/ind_inc.html. So before anyone on here is led astray about the "Bush-era conservatives jacking taxes up" myth, read the facts.

snowWI 8 years, 3 months ago

Why is Olathe Kansas so conservative? By the way some of the state reps from Olathe act this has to be one of the most conservative areas in the entire state.

preebo 8 years, 3 months ago

Wrong? Hmm. Interesting. Let's see. California has Proposition 13, which holds your property tax at the rate steady in the year you purchase your home. Kansas has no such standard. So the more you house increases in value the more your tax goes up (simple progressive tax methodology). Oh, and Kansas has a state tax, county tax, city tax, and something referred to as a township tax.

So, Rational Animal, when you start beating your Reaganomics drum all over town, please try to remember that you should read the facts as well my friend. California's state tax is 7.25%, whereas Kansas is at an astonishing 5.3, true. But then you have county, city, and again the damn "township tax" if you live in a rural area.

...that doesn't even touch the topic of property tax.

So, let's recap. I'm misinforming you, and Rational Animal has all the answers.

preebo 8 years, 3 months ago

Liberal Bastians...

I know liberal bastians I attended law school at a "Liberal Bastian," but at least we get paid well.

Rationalanimal 8 years, 3 months ago

Preebo, oh I see, now your including in "state" local and county as well as state. Ok, your still wrong. Read the facts prepared by a liberal state. http://www.mntax.org/cpfr/documents/hdmcfy2004.pdf. Note the rank of states like California, New Jersey, Vermont, etc, etc. Kansas comes in at a middle of the pack 32. Again, check your facts before you start misinforming people, although most people on here believe what they want to anyway, esse est percipi in the USCL.

bugmenot 8 years, 3 months ago

Olathe's conservative because it's a city in KC that used to have a lower "sticker shock" in terms of housing prices. New grads who came originally from western Kansas moved there because the rest of the city seemed so out of whack, price-wise. Because it's in JoCo, the schools are well-funded and pretty good, so it was a good place to settle. As time has gone on, the moral viewpoints of those western Kansas at heart have stuck because of the megachurches that have prospered there, and now it's one of the very most conservative parts of JoCo. Because of that, it continues to be a good place to settle your family, if you have that belief system.

preebo 8 years, 3 months ago

...again. You go off amount, $$$. What you still fail to comprehend is that Kansas is not California, New Jersey, or Mass. in terms of population tax base or revenue. I am talking about per capita and percentages. Kansas state and local taxes reach a 9.3, whereas California is 9.6. I don't know, but that seems a little strange to me. Kansas shouldn't be anywhere near there when their median household income is 53,000/ Year and California's is 70,000/ Year. What exactly is moderate about that?

Sources: http://swz.salary.com/salarywizard/layouthtmls/swzl_statetaxrate_CA.html

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/statemedfaminc.html

Rationalanimal 8 years, 3 months ago

Preebo, what does net income have to do where Kansas ranks among all 50 states in percentage taxation. You keep painting yourself into a corner that facts don't support. I'm not going off the actuall dollar amount (which is not appropriate), percentage of income taxed is the appropriate measure. Look at page 11 of the link I formerly submitted and pay attention to the far right hand column. Even if Kansas has a lower net personal income than California, our cost of living is way less than California. That's why comparing income has absolutely nothing to do with supporting your assertion that Kansas is one of the most heavily taxed states in the country. I can only derive from the pieces of your argument that your equating net personal income as the measure to condlude rate of taxation. That is simply wrong. In any event, the percentages of state and local income taxes places Kansas in the meat of the pack whereas the enlightened liberal states are wringing their citizen's wallets pretty darn good. Unless, of course your a Teddy Kennedy liberal and can afford a great tax attorney.

oldgoof 8 years, 3 months ago

bugmenot says: "Olathe's conservative because it's a city in KC that used to have a lower. . .New grads who came originally from western Kansas moved there because the rest of the city seemed so out of whack. .. hogwash.

Mike Blur 8 years, 3 months ago

Well rational, looking at page 12 of the same report you cite, it lists Kansas as being 12th in total state and local taxes collected per $1000 of income. California, Massachusetts, and Minnesota all rank lower (e.g. they take fewer taxes per $1000 of income than Kansas.)

How do you explain that?

budwhysir 8 years, 3 months ago

Not sure there are realy crosshairs in politics. However if one is a centered liberal, they may choose a left or right combover to satisfy the political company one keeps.

With all the gels, and hairspray on the market, I believe that a crosshair is actualy not a bad thing. Politicaly speaking

snowWI 8 years, 3 months ago

Posted by preebo (anonymous) on February 19, 2007 at 2:56 p.m. "Olathe's conservative because it's a city in KC that used to have a lower "sticker shock" in terms of housing prices. New grads who came originally from western Kansas moved there because the rest of the city seemed so out of whack, price-wise. Because it's in JoCo, the schools are well-funded and pretty good, so it was a good place to settle. As time has gone on, the moral viewpoints of those western Kansas at heart have stuck because of the megachurches that have prospered there, and now it's one of the very most conservative parts of JoCo."

Based on some of the observations I have made from visiting this "city" is that it only applies to very narrow segments of the population, and does not appeal to younger single people at all. Since Olathe mainly appeals to families the demographics are extremely skewed. The Census Bureau estimates that around 30% of the population is under 18 years of age. This is an extremely high percentage even for a growing suburban area. The "mega everything" lifestyle is evident in parts of this city as well. If these people are really conservatives I do not see a lot of people conserving resources or being fiscally conservative. It seems like they have adopted the "Texas" lifestyle there.

snowWI 8 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, I quoted the wrong poster: The quote was from Posted by bugmenot (anonymous) on February 19, 2007 at 2:55 p.m.

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