Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

KHP Brass Requests $2 Fee Hike to Hire 75 More Troopers

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

KHP Brass Requests $2 Fee Hike to Hire 75 More Troopers

Article excerpt

The Kansas Highway Patrol's request for a $2 increase in the state vehicle registration fee Thursday earned support of law enforcement groups and blanket opposition from the state's most influential agriculture organization.

Col. Mark Bruce, superintendent of the state patrol, outlined the agency's decline of about 100 troopers in the past decade and consequences of a diminished capacity to respond in emergencies across the state. His presentation to the House Transportation Committee was subtitled "reversing the trend of the disappearing trooper."

The proposal wrapped into House Bill 2503 would add $2 to the state's current vehicle registration fee of $10.

"This bill has statewide implications," Bruce said. "This is a statewide problem."

Ryan Flickner, representing the Kansas Farm Bureau, said the organization's members approved a policy that rejected the financing of public safety activities with vehicle registration revenue. That money should be channeled to transportation programs in Kansas, he said.

"This bill does not meet that requirement," he said. "Furthermore, farmers and ranchers often register many more vehicles than the average Kansas citizen in order to utilize those vehicles in their operation."

The Kansas Sheriff's Association, Kansas Peace Officers' Association and Kansas Association Chiefs of Police offered testimony in support of the proposed legislation.

"There are counties within a short drive from the Capitol building that don't have any trooper assigned to a respective county due to their personnel shortages," said Herman Jones, the sheriff in Shawnee County and legislative chairman of the peace officer group.

In 2006, the KHP had 501 troopers stationed throughout Kansas. That number has declined to 419 because of noncompetitive salaries, morale issues, a wave of retirements and difficulty recruiting for the academy. …

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