Topeka — Advocacy groups wanting to hold events at the Kansas Capitol will pay more — sometimes substantially more — under a new fee schedule set to take effect Jan. 1.
Currently, Kansas charges $20 for any activist group event at the Capitol. Under the new rules, the lowest price will be $50 for events that require no setup or cleanup. The price will increase depending on several factors, such as the size of the crowd, whether the group wants to use the public address system, or if it needs tables and chairs, The Kansas City Star reported .
Davis Hammett, a Topeka activist, said he was told Thursday the price for an annual event held by the Kansas People’s Agenda will increase from $20 last year to $500 this year.
Hammett called the cost increase “absurd and suppressive” and suggested it would prohibit smaller groups from protesting at the Capitol.
John Milburn, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Administration, which maintains state buildings, said the price increase is intended only to help the state recover costs for providing the space and setup and cleanup for events. The number of rallies has increased and costs have risen since the state restored the Capitol, he said.
“We certainly want people to hold events at the Statehouse. It had no other motive than to recover our costs,” Milburn said.
Under the fee schedule, groups that want a podium and access to the public address system will have to pay $100. Another $100 will provide six tables and 30 chairs. Events with chairs for 30 to 100 people will be $300 and any event larger than that will have a negotiated price.
Neighboring Missouri does not charge for rallies at the Capitol and provides free setup and cleanup services, said Ryan Burns, spokeswoman for the Missouri Office of Administration.
“Our facilities team is pretty amazing and they go to great lengths to make it happen,” she said.