Commissioner Karl Peterjohn wants the Sedgwick County Commission to be more vocal with its stances on federal issues.
“It might be worthwhile for this body to consider putting together a federal legislative agenda the way we have a state one,” Peterjohn said at the end of Wednesday’s commission meeting.
Peterjohn brought it up as the county reacts to changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act on overtime pay being placed on hold by a federal judge in Texas.
Peterjohn also mentioned “challenges in the animal kingdom,” a reference to species protection laws that have interfered with the county’s public works projects in the past.
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“The three members of Congress who represent Sedgwick County would at least have our position going forward,” he said, referencing the state’s two senators and representative from the 4th Congressional District.
Commissioner Richard Ranzau said he supported Peterjohn’s idea. Chairman Jim Howell also said he supported the idea although parts of the county’s state legislative agenda is connected to federal policy.
“It would be the right course of action for us to take,” Howell said.
Deputy County Manager Tom Golden said staff would work with the county’s legislative team.
“We’ll incorporate that somehow, someway to add that to our legislative agenda for the upcoming year,” Golden said.
Zoo, other topics
Peterjohn also touted the success of the Sedgwick County Zoo as it heads toward a record attendance year. He said his family and his campaigns have supported the zoo financially over the years.
“We’ve contributed thousands of dollars to the zoo,” he said.
Peterjohn said there’s a “lot of disinformation out there” related to the county’s support for the zoo, which became a campaign issue in the Republican primary this year. Peterjohn lost to David Dennis.
Peterjohn narrated a short slide-show presentation on the county’s financial support for the zoo.
The county gave $5.4 million to the zoo in 2015, according to the presentation. The 2016 budget included $5.6 million for the zoo. And, in 2017, the zoo will receive $5.8 million from the county.
But the zoo did not receive an expected increase of $388,302 in its 2016 budget.
“Only in Washington and in government finance would this be considered a cut,” Peterjohn said.
“Sedgwick County’s contribution here is incredibly generous and needs more appreciation that it hasn’t received,” he added.
Peterjohn called the removal of the American flag from a college campus in Massachusetts “disgraceful.” He also called flag-burning in New York City “fighting words.”
Peterjohn noted Nov. 30 as the day of Mark Twain’s birth and when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had meetings at the Tehran Conference during World War II.