There was a lot of activity and events at the Capitol this past week including Theatre in Our Schools Advocacy Day, WEALTH Day, Mental Health Advocacy Day, Kansas Ag Day, Nonprofit Day on the Hill and the State Refugee Update.
SportingKC was the sponsor for the Wyandotte/Leavenworth Delegation Luncheon Even though the debate on the floor extended into the lunch hour most members were able to take a few minutes to visit with Marty Nevshemal. CFO for Sporting KC.
It was such a pleasure to have former Mayor Joe Reardon, President/CEO Greater Kansas City Chamber as the speaker for a joint Johnson/Leavenworth/Wyandotte County Luncheon. He gave a very informative presentation focusing on regional issues including early childhood learning, workforce development & transportation.
This past week, I joined my fellow legislators to promote a resolution to condemn the separation of children from their families at the border. Kansas House and Senate Democrats presented a resolution and hosted a press conference on the Keep Families Together Act. Resolution 1260 urges the federal government to end their separation and detainment practices of children and their families. We felt compelled to speak out because it impacts many of our constituents.
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
School Funding Finds Traction
Late into the evening on Thursday, the Senate approved a clean K-12 education bill on a 32-8 vote. The bill, which is in line with Governor Kelly’s education plan, will add roughly $92 million into the general state aid to public schools. The measure will hopefully meet the Kansas Supreme Court’s order requiring the state to provide “adequate” funding for K-12 education. The bill will head to the House. House Democrats have repeatedly advocated to address school funding this session and are eager to resolve the continuous cycle of litigation, providing Kansas children with the quality education they deserve. Meanwhile, a Republican bill was worked in the House K-12 Education Committee that is essentially a private school voucher bill poorly disguised as a public-school funding bill. It would actually remove around $200 million dollars from base state aid that passed last year. Essentially, it would make policy changes and cut money from schools, all but guaranteeing an unconstitutional ruling if passed.
House Democratic Caucus Hosts Mexican Consulate
This week, for the House Democrats’ monthly summit, they hosted the Kansas City based Mexican consulate delegate. We learned how beneficial Kansas’ relationship is with Mexico. In 2018, Mexico became Kansas’ largest export market. $2.8 billion in goods are traded between Kansas and Mexico. 18.2% of Kansas’ worldwide exports go to Mexico. Mexico is also Kansas’ second largest export market for transportation equipment, particularly aerospace components and parts, with over 300 million dollars in export revenue. 97% of worldwide corn exports, 26% of worldwide pork exports, and 16% of fresh beef from Kansas all head to Mexico. They also advocated for labor rights and protections, explaining that they are at the core of USMCA, the new agreement between United States, Mexico, and Canada. We enjoyed speaking with them on how to continue this successful relationship.
The “Do-Nothing” Kansas Republican-Led Legislature
The Turnaround deadline two weeks ago officially marked the halfway point of the 2019 session. With the deadline, over 40 bills and issues were left to die. These are bills that had passed through committees but were never brought to a floor debate by the House Majority Leader. The bills covered a range of issues, such as removing the spousal exception from sexual battery, medical marijuana, due process for teachers, and more. Furthermore, Democratic attempts to address some of the most critical issues facing Kansans, like school funding, have been met with partisan games. These issues deserve serious deliberation and the development of policy alternatives to pursue the best path for Kansas. It is not a race, but the deadlines are real.
In 2011, the first year of Governor Brownback’s administration, the Legislature debated and acted on 99 more pieces of legislation by this point in the session than they have this entire year. Under the direction of the ultra-conservative Republican leadership in both the House and Senate, only one piece of legislation has reached the Governor’s desk.
We have deep respect for the legislative process. The Democratic House caucus started this session ready to reach across the aisle to get things done. There are dire issues facing Kansas -- our schools are severely underfunded, children are missing and dying in our mismanaged foster care system, rural communities are struggling, hospitals are closing, and our prison system is dangerously underfunded. Instead, we have spent a significant amount of session trying to give giant tax giveaways to giant, multi-national corporations and discussing issues that impact other states.
This past week, the House had a lengthy floor debate on SCR 1606. House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer released a statement:
“Today, 32 Kansas House Democrats voted ‘present’ on SCR 1606 in protest. Rather than focusing on the condemnation of New York’s policies, House Democrats believe we should be working toward funding our children’s educations, expanding Medicaid, and toward resolving the many issues facing our state. We were elected here in Kansas to serve the people of Kansas, not to waste time worrying about what other states decide to do for their constituents. The resolution brought to the floor today was further demonstration of a do-nothing Republican-led legislature.”
Senate Bill 22 Update
The Senate concurred on Senate Bill 22 with a 24-16 vote. Senate bill 22 is the massive tax giveaway to giant, multi-national corporations. The bill will now head to the Governor’s desk for either a veto or passage. The Governor said shortly after the Senate’s passage saying, “Just two short years ago, the state of Kansas was on the brink of financial disaster. Our state faced a massive, self-inflicted budget crisis that caused three credit downgrades and devastating budget cuts. The consequences of those cuts were real and painful…In 2017, we defied the odds, acknowledged the mistake, and ended the experiment in a historic act of bipartisanship. Since then, Kansas has seen a gradual recovery. My administration has only just begun to repair the severe damage done in the last eight years. Our recovery is tenuous; our budget is fragile. This is not the time to make significant changes to our tax code."
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:
SB 17: Requires class M driver's licenses when operating a motorcycle registered under a temporary permit.
SB 39: Compensation for warranty services under the vehicle dealers and manufacturers licensing act.
HB 2133: Required reporting for entities who deliver alcoholic liquors to consumers.
SCR 1606: Condemning the reproductive health act of New York.
State Library of Kansas
Early Learning Resources from the State Library
BookFlix is an online resource from the State Library of Kansas for children in grades PreK-3 that pairs video storybooks with related nonfiction e-books. Imagine Curious George paired with a nonfiction book about monkeys. The read-along storybook highlights each word as it is read. This option can be turned off. Related games reinforce early learning reading skills. BookFlix requires Flash.
Britannica E-Stax (PreK-6) features nonfiction books that can be read online or downloaded to any Internet-enabled device.
Britannica School has a Pre-K component called Britannica Learning Zone. This engaging online tool covers colors, letters, words, numbers, and more.
All are available at no charge through the State Library’s web site http://kslib.info/kids