It was discovered this week the State of Kansas has increased the fee to hold an event at the Capitol building beginning January 1, 2018
The fee was previously $20 to hold an event at the Capitol
As of Jan 1, it will be a $50 flat rate that raises the larger the event
The increase in fee could prove to be problematic for smaller non-profits and citizen groups
In 2014, Kansas finished a $325 million renovation on the State Capitol building. With an increase in events at the capitol following the remodel, Kansas has decided to raise the fee to hold an event.
The Kansas City Star reported Davis Hammet, a Topeka activist, discovered on Thursday that Kansas increased the fee to hold an event at the Capitol rotunda. Hammet was told it would cost him $500 for The Kansas People’s Agenda to hold a protest in the same spot they used last January for only $20.
Kansas Department of Administration spokesperson John Milburn said the price increase is to help the state recover money from operational costs due to all the rallies held at the Capitol each year.
That will help us recover the cost that we incur to provide the space and cleanup that is requested. The fee will depend on the number of people that will come in and what services are requested.
As of January 1, the flat rate for an event will be $50. If an activist group wants a podium and offer to the PA, that costs $100. For $200, you get six tables and 30 chairs. A larger event that needs 30 to 100 chairs will be $300, and anything larger is negotiable.
The increased fees will surely be devastating to small non-profit groups and citizen activists around the state. Some feel the actual reason behind the price increase could be an effort to silence a growing disapproval towards the House.
Hague v. C.I.O.
The Supreme Court established the public-forum doctrine to decide what types of public property are open to First Amendment expressive activity. While the categories include public and non-public forums, government property is not considered a forum. The Supreme Court explained in the 1939 Hague v. C.I.O. decision.
Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions.
The government does not have the power to control protests or events based upon a content-based restriction. However, they have a plethora of other ways to keep control of the situation, such as saying the gathering must happen between certain hours of the day, or in a certain area. This is how the government manages to act as a content-neutral party while maintaining what is believed to be the best interests of citizens outside of the gathering, and at the same time keeping civil arrest away from the leaders that fear it.