A bill just introduced in the Kansas Legislature by Representative Joe Patton, a Topeka Republican, would bar taxpayer-funded lobbying for tax increases. The bill is House Bill 2622, captioned “an act concerning the use of public funds for lobbying.”
The bill is very short, the important part being: “No taxpayer funds shall be used for the purpose of employing or contracting for the services of any person whose duty and responsibility includes lobbying for a tax increase.”
Taxpayer-funded lobbying is a problem. In 2008 Alan Cobb — at that time Americans For Prosperity Kansas State Director — wrote an op-ed explaining the harm of taxpayer-funded lobbying. In it he wrote: “It’s proper for private citizens and groups to petition their government, but should one government be ‘petitioning’ another? Do you agree with the things they are lobbying for? Do you even know?”
I’d guess that most citizens don’t know about this, and that many would not agree with what their tax dollars are being used to push on the legislature.
While the bill uses the word “person,” many organizations that are funded by taxpayers lobby for tax increases. An example would be the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), which is funded primarily by dues paid by member school boards. Those payments come from tax dollars. This bill would block those lobbying activities by those organizations, because it is people that do the actual lobbying, and the bill forbids that.
Other articles about this topic include Testimony against taxpayer-funded lobbying, Wichita school bond issue not the only proposed tax increase, and Tax funded lobbyists spending revealed.