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Local leaders heading to lobby in Topeka PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 19 January 2018 10:44

• Leader & Times

Representatives from Seward County, the City of Liberal and the Liberal Chamber of Commerce will get a chance to meet with some state leaders early next week.

Monday through Wednesday, the Southwest Kansas Chambers of Commerce will host the annual “Southwest Kansas Night Out in Topeka,” and Seward County Administrator April Warden said the three days will be filled with plenty for local leaders, as well as those from the area, including Garden City, Dodge City, Grant County, Hugoton and Scott City, to do in the state capitol.

“Monday, Jan. 22, we have our first event that evening that is called the Southwest Kansas Night Out in Topeka,” she said. “That is where the different chambers of Southwest Kansas get together and host the event. It’s an evening reception where they have heavy hors d’oeuvres. You have to have the opportunity to get to speak to the different legislators.”

Tuesday starting at 7:30 a.m. is an event, Warden said, built specifically around Liberal.

“I think they’ve done this in the past, but it’s something we kind of got started again last year,” she said. “We named it International Pancake Day at the Capitol. That is where we invite all the legislators and their staff to pancakes in the capitol with us.”

Warden said this event is designed to reach legislators and invite their staffers to the breakfast.

“Those staffers do a lot with us as well, and it’s an opportunity to just kind of keep Southwest Kansas on the map,” she said. “What a better way for them to remember us than by serving them a pancake breakfast and invite to come out and join us on Pancake Day for the dignitary reception.”

Warden said those who come to the first night in Topeka are joined by members of the Pancake Day board and the Liberal Convention and Tourism board for Tuesday morning’s breakfast.

“We all sponsor that event and go and serve pancakes and sausage breakfast at the capitol for that event,” she said. “That same day, the commissioners and I, we are members of the Kansas Legislative Policy Group, and that same day, they have their legislative meeting. We have a tentative agenda for that right now.”

The area group of leaders will be welcomed at that meeting by KLPG President Sandra Rupp, and Warden said the meeting will let everyone hear from some of the leaders from the Kansas Legislature.

“The Honorable Steve Johnson, whose with the 108th House District, is going to discuss the Kansas tax policy with us,” she said. “The Honorable Russ Jennings is going to be visiting with us about challenges that we’re facing in the juvenile justice system. The Honorable Don Heideman, who is the 118th House District and majority leader of the Kansas House of Representatives, is going to tell us what to expect in 2018.”

Later, other leaders, including Kansas Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, will talk to the KLPG crowd. Warden said Colyer will talk about the state of affairs in Kansas, and other state officials will be heard after that.

“That day, Jeremy Hill, who is the director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research, is going to talk about migrating Kansas,” Warden said. “We will have lunch with Derek Schmidt, who’s the Kansas state attorney general, and then we will have our business meeting.”

Wednesday is the final day for the local and area leaders in the state capitol, and Warden said the highlights of the day is a local government day hosted by the Kansas Association of Counties and the League of Kansas Municipalities.

“They will have speakers from the House and Senate leadership,” she said. “You’ll meet with the invited legislators and fellow local government leaders during a reception. They divide the room into regions to encourage interaction among your regions.”

Warden said the three days in Topeka makes for a full slate of activities.

“Yes it does take us away for three days, but on the other hand, it’s one trip to Topeka to meet many needs instead of having to make trips back and forth,” she said. “It’s a busy three days, but there’s a lot that takes place.”

Warden said opportunities such as the Night Out in Topeka are good for local leaders, as all government entities struggle through budget constraints.

“They’ve found if they could try to organize them and get them together, people weren’t having to travel as much,” she said. “It also was easier on the legislators because you’re getting them together at one time instead of them having to try to plan different dates and times for everything.”

Some state leaders in Topeka, including Kansas 125th District Representative Shannon Francis, said much of the Legislature’s time this year will be spent focusing on to find money to finance schools in the Sunflower State. Warden said she agreed saying the decisions made at the capitol level will definitely affect what happens locally with education. She did, however, other issues will play a factor in the Southwest Kansas economy.

“I think the tax discussions will be a heavy agenda item,” she said. “I know that everybody continues to worry about the tax lid situation and what that means for local government.”

Along with education and the tax lid, Warden simply said this year’s legislative session will just have a lot of issues to focus on.

“I think what we look forward to most coming from this is we kind of get an idea of what we’re going to be faced with and what we think 2018’s going to look like and know where the focus is going to have to be,” she said.

Warden said for this year’s Night Out in Topeka, much of the focus has shifted from reaching out to local representatives to getting in touch with lawmakers from other areas, which she said allows them to get a perspective of local issues.

“We all know when some of those issues go to vote, it is the whole, not just your representative that are voting on something,” she said. “It does help for them to get different perspectives and to hear what’s going on in different areas of the states, not just in the areas that they represent specifically. We have tried to do that. KLPG’s done that a little bit in that they’ve invited different legislators from different areas to visit with us out here in Southwest Kansas.”

Warden said events like the Pancake Day breakfast Tuesday morning allow local and area leaders to invite everyone to reach out and build relationships with legislators outside of Southwest Kansas.

“They do have a different perspective because they don’t really see it from us, the ones that are actually living out here and what we’re dealing with,” she said.

Warden said events such as the Night Out in Topeka are an excellent idea and a great opportunity to meet with state leaders.

“If we’re not out there and we’re not meeting with them, then we’re not necessarily keeping on their radar,” she said. “I think it’s just like anything else. If you want to keep yourself informed about what’s going on and you want to try to make a difference, you have to lead that discussion, and you have to put yourself out there so that do know you.”

Warden likewise said these events are a great way to help state lawmakers know what it takes to make Southwest Kansas a great place to live.

“I believe that these are opportunities that we need to take advantage of to build relationships with those legislators, to be heard and to let them know we care about the places we call home and this is what is important to us,” she said.




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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