2019 Legislative Update 1

The 2019 Legislative Session commenced on Monday, January 14th and is off to a fast pace. The legislature has several major issues to address this year, and we are ready to get to work on finding commonsense, bipartisan solutions. Kansas works better when we work together.

The first week of the Legislative Session brought many Kansan’s to the Capitol to share information, ideas and to celebrate the beginning of a new legislative session and a new administration. On Tuesday the halls of the Statehouse filled with Kansan’s for the annual “People’s Agenda”. It was wonderful to see so many from Wyandotte County participating in this event as well as the many other events happening at the Capitol this past week.

It is a special honor to serve as your state representative.  I value and appreciate your input on issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions.  My office address is Room 452-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612.  You can reach me at (785) 296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me.  You can also e-mail me at pam.curtis@house.ks.gov

Inauguration of Governor Laura Kelly

On Monday, January 14th, former State Senator Laura Kelly was sworn in as the 48th Governor of Kansas. Despite the freezing weather, a crowd gathered around the south steps of the Statehouse to witness the ceremony held beneath banners reading “Equality”, “Education” and “Opportunity”. Governor Kelly’s inauguration makes Kansas a historic state, the only state to have elected three female Democratic governors. Her swearing-in followed those of Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Secretary of State Scott Schwab, Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt, and State Treasurer Jake LaTurner.

That same evening, the inaugural ball was attended by more than 2,300 people at the Kansas Expocenter.

First Day of the 2019 Session

On Monday afternoon, the Kansas legislature kicked off the 2019 session at 2:00pm. Both returning members and newly elected officials were sworn-in during the first day on the House floor. The Kansas House holds 125 Representatives. The House Democratic Caucus is made up of 41 Representatives.

Kansas House Democrats are ready to get to work this session to help resolve issues facing Kansans. The state works better when we work together.

2019 State of the State Address

The annual State of the State Address was delivered by newly-inaugurated Governor Laura Kelly on Wednesday, January 16th. Governor Kelly gave a strong speech stressing the need for bipartisanship in order to achieve prosperity for all Kansans. She vowed present a balanced budget without raising taxes. Throughout the speech, four key priorities were thematic: fully funding Kansas schools to end the cycle of litigation, supporting rural communities, expanding Medicaid, and fixing our broken foster care system.
We must bring our school funding formula to constitutional muster and provide a quality education for every Kansas child, no matter their zip code. We all need to ensure that we are positioning our children to thrive in a changing economy, which means modern classrooms and modern technologies.

Developing infrastructure, declining rural populations, and addressing the needs of agribusiness are among a few of the priorities outlined in Governor Kelly’s State of the State speech, and will be priorities for the House Rural Revitalization Committee. Expanding Medicaid is one of the top shared priorities across Kansas, as research has shown that 77% of Kansans favor expansion. 30% of our state’s hospitals are considered financially vulnerable, especially in rural communities. Expanding Medicaid would mean that more than 150,000 Kansans currently without health insurance would have coverage.

Our foster care system is in crisis and requires immediate action. House Democrats are ready to continue working towards a better system alongside Governor Kelly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our state’s most vulnerable children.

2019 Budget

On Thursday, Budget Director Larry Campbell (retained from the previous administration) presented the Governor’s budget to a joint session of the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committees. The Governor’s budget priorities are to achieve structural balance, rebuild the state’s savings, and reduce the state’s debt.
Highlights from the Governor’s budget:

  • Restoring school funding as recommended by the Kansas State Board of Education
  • Funding for 55 additional child welfare positions to help diffuse extremely high caseloads and protect our state’s most vulnerable children
  • Investing in our infrastructure and phasing out the practice of raiding “The Bank of KDOT”
  • Increased funding to help keep our communities safe. Adding $3 million in funding for Kansas corrections officers.
  • In order to ensure state employee salaries, remain competitive and with inflation, the Governor recommends a 2.5% base pay increase
  • A re-amortization of KPERS to make state retirement contributions more realistic and sustainable over time.

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