It was great to see so many visitors this week that braved the weather to attend various activities, meetings, and events in Topeka and at the Capitol!
The Tuesday Lunch and Learn for the Wyandotte County and Leavenworth County Delegation included a very informative presentation from Goodwill. We appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Goodwill, the partnerships they are building and the work they are doing for the betterment of our communities particularly in the area of workforce development.
There was a great turnout for the annual AFL-CIO BBQ on Tuesday evening! It was my pleasure to join Governor Kelly, Lt. Governor Rogers and members of the Kansas Legislature for this annual gathering with members of organized labor. These events provide an opportunity for lawmakers to listen and discuss matters before the Kansas Legislature.
On Wednesday, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, delivered the State of the Judiciary Address. In his address, the Chief Justice emphasized the importance to invest in judicial pay to maintain the quality our citizens deserve. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of our judicial employees work a second job and as Chief Justice Nuss stated: “For our 167 district court judges, in pay, they now rank dead last”. He also spoke about the efficiencies in the judicial branch that have been realized with electronic filing, 24 access to court information and job sharing capabilities.
This week tourism professionals from around the state were in Topeka for the annual TIAK events. It was a lot of fun attending the Destination Statehouse Legislative Reception where various tourism organizations showcase attractions in Kansas as well as provide information about the economic impact of tourism in Kansas. Bridgette Jobe and her team from the KCK CVB participated in the event – it is always special to see people from home when we are in Topeka!
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 at the Statehouse 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrating Native American Day at the Capitol
In honor of Native America Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, February 7th, Rep. Ponka-We Victors introduced guests from the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation to members of the Kansas Legislature.
Since 2013, the first Wednesday of every February is designated as Native American Legislative Day at the Capitol. The guests were able to hear two bills being worked pertaining to tribal issues- recognition of tribal court judgments, and a bill in House Federal and State Affairs committee to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples day.
They testified that because Columbus never made it to continental North America, or Kansas, that the day should be used as an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous peoples’ rich history and deep contributions to our state. It would also serve as an educational opportunity and strengthen the relationship between State and tribal governments.
On Monday, February 4th, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers introduced a proposal to ban discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. Kansas employers would add sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class in state law- prohibiting on-the-job discrimination. It also broadens the scope to include housing and public accommodations. Currently, the House bill has 36 sponsors and the Senate version has 17 co-sponsors. In addition to keeping with civil rights, it also will attract businesses as some have previously blacklisted Kansas because of our previous discriminatory laws.
Governor Laura Kelly reinstated the executive order to protect LGBTQ Kansans on her first day in office. If the legislation passes, the protections would be established in Kansas law and not an order that can simply be rescinded.
The Brownback Tax Plan Returns
On Thursday, February 7th, the Senate voted 26-14 to pass Senate Bill 22. This bill provides an estimated $154 million in tax breaks to giant multinational corporations. At a minimum, this bill is estimated to cost Kansas $191 million, however, estimates could be much more. This would take more money out of our state, local economies, and Kansan’s pockets. This is a repeat of the failed Brownback tax plan that was repealed less than two years ago. House Democrats reject any legislation that doesn’t put Kansas on a path to fiscal responsibility and that will harm hardworking Kansans. We’ve only just begun to stabilize our economy after the failed Brownback tax plan and cannot go backwards.
This Week on the Floor
This week, the House worked several bills on the floor. All of these bills passed through the chamber. They are as follows:
HB 2001: This bill extends the sunset date for remediation linked deposit loan program, the remediation reimbursement program, and the Kansas agricultural remediation fund. It also amends the annual assessment rates.
HB 2038: This bill revokes spousal inheritance rights upon divorce.
HB 2039: This bill extends recognition of tribal court judgments pursuant to supreme court rules.
HB 2033: This bill provides sales tax authority for Dickinson, Russell, and Thomas counties.
HB 2034: This bill enacted the supported decision-making agreements act to provide a statutory framework for adults who want decision-making assistance.