Lobbyists’ influence felt in Topeka

Local News

Lobbying can have a big impact on which bills get traction in Topeka.

A lobbyist in Kansas can buy a lawmaker dinner to discuss a possible bill but it must be reported. If a lobbyist gives a lawmaker a gift, it must be under 40 dollars.

“We require that they register as a lobbyist and then the people of Kansas can see what expenditures they’re making to influence legislation,” said Mark Skoglund, executive director at the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.

KSNT News Political Analyst Bob Beatty said some of the biggest groups can impact what bills come to light on both sides of the aisle.

“Educations unions do have quite a bit of influence. On the more conservative side, obviously the National Rifle Association, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce is very active, they represent a number of businesses, so they have a lot of power,” said Beatty.

When the bill finally makes it to the statehouse, the background behind it isn’t always known.

“A group can write a bill, can write the language for a bill, can push a bill, and then a legislator will carry that bill,” said Beatty.

There are 535 lobbyists that represent nearly 1,500 clients in the state this year. The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission keeps records on what lobbyists are doing.

“So there are two parts that are always publicly available, who a lobbyist represents is always public as well as if they spend any money promoting a particular interest,” said Skoglund.

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