The Kansas Legislature's auditing division Tuesday was instructed to conduct an audit of how the creative arts industry could be expanded to improve quality of life among Kansans and draw tourist dollars to the state.
Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, a Prairie Village Democrat, convinced a majority of the joint House and Senate auditing committee to endorse a review of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. The idea is to compare the state commission's influence on the arts in comparison to approaches in other states.
"This is a hard-core economic development issue that will have a major impact on the state," he said.
In 2011, then-Gov. Sam Brownback dismantled the Kansas Arts Commission, which relied upon grants to support the arts across the state. Political pressure resulted in formation of the current arts commission, but questions have been raised by lawmakers about whether it promotes, supports and expands arts-related jobs.
"Unfortunately, in the last administration, one of the first things that was cut was the Kansas Arts Commission. That did not do our image well in the eyes of the nation," Stogsdill said.
The committee also authorized the Legislative Post Audit division to conduct an audit proposed by Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, into how much state and local governments spent on association membership fees and dues.
In addition, Pyle's proposal adopted by the committee would look at how much these government entities spend directly on lobbyists or organizations that provide lobbying services.
Auditors also were tasked with evaluating the economic impact of legalizing industrial hemp production in Kansas, assessing the result of a 2016 law reforming the state's juvenile justice system and studying use of money from a state economic development initiative fund.