It was a very busy week! We are quickly approaching bill deadlines and Turnaround Day, February 28th, after which the House takes up Senate Bills that have passed and the Senate takes up House Bills that have passed.
Former Representative Kenny Wilk and Reagan Cussimanio provided information about the University of Kansas Health Systems at the Wyandotte/Leavenworth County Delegation Tuesday Lunch & Learn. It was good to have an opportunity to hear about the hospital’s new presence in downtown KCK, as well as support for an organ donor bill and Medicaid expansion.
Representative Jerry Stogsdill and I have been working with the arts community to advocate for additional funding for the arts. On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee increased the funding for the arts from about $188,000 to $500,000. This is very encouraging and if the amount remains in the budget when it is approved by the House and Senate, it will put Kansas on a good pathway to show a commitment to the arts as well as leverage federal grant funding.
It was such a pleasure to hear from Delia Garcia, Madam Secretary at Kansas Department of Labor, at the House Dem’s Thursday Summit! Delia served in the Kansas House Representatives from 2005 to 2010 and is returning to Kansas with a wealth of experience from DC for this cabinet-level position.
HB 2279, a bill that Representative Ponka-We Victors and I introduced, is scheduled for a hearing before the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice on Thursday, February 21st at 1:30 pm in Room 152-S. This bill will enhance the notification process for domestic violence victims.
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
Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence Advocacy Day at the Capitol
On Wednesday, February 13, the Kansas State House hosted KCASD for their 16th annual advocacy day at the Capitol. The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence posted their display throughout the Statehouse. It honored 56 Kansans who lost their lives to domestic and sexual violence. Organizations and their members from across the state were at the Capitol to educate the legislature on the breadth and depth of services they provide to victims and survivors every day in local communities. In addition to HB 2279 that Rep Victors and I introduced, several Democratic members in the House and the Senate have spearheaded legislation that would aid in the prevention and elimination of sexual and domestic violence and to advocate and strengthen resources for survivors and their communities.
Kansas Department of Corrections Declares State of Emergency
On Tuesday, February 12th, Interim Secretary Roger Werholtz declared an emergency at El Dorado Correctional Facility effective immediately due to critical staffing shortages. In the last few years, prisons across the state, especially in El Dorado, have seen rioting, problematic prison conditions, overcrowding, and severe understaffing, which has posed a safety risk to prisoners, staff, and the public. These issues, and the current state of emergency, are largely because of the Brownback Administration’s failed tax plan which led to severely neglecting and underfunding state agencies. Governor Kelly and legislative leadership are working together to address this issue. Several proposals to remedy this are being discussed such as: changes in sentencing laws that could lessen prison crowding, additional funding for the prison system, and increasing pay and improving working conditions to attract and retain employees.
Kansas Public Employees Retirement System Re-amortization on the Floor
This week, the Governor’s KPERS Re-amortization bill (HB 2197) landed in the House Financial Institutions and Pensions Committee. In an unusual move, two committee members were replaced, one of whom made a motion to suspend the rules. This motion bypassed the 2/3 majority rules of the committee, merely to kick it out of committee immediately. Once on the floor, Democrats raised the procedural concerns with the full legislative body, making a motion to return it to committee. The motion was denied. Democrats attempted to add four amendments to the bill, including a cost of living adjustment for retirees. They did not pass. Ultimately, the underlying bill did not pass.
Local Government Committee - Ranking Minority Member
Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee - Member
Judiciary Committee - Member
Joint Committee Information Technology – Member
Wyandotte County Delegation Chair