The last few days have been unsettling and that’s an understatement, so before I begin my regular newsletter let me speak to what’s been going on in our country.
As someone whose family was personally affected by the Holocaust, anything that slightly resembles sanctioning the actions of a Neo-Nazi group is abhorrent to me and very scary. That’s why I was so saddened on Tuesday when President Trump backtracked on his stand against hate.
Sensible voices have prevailed in Kansas. It wasn't easy, but with a new tax plan, a balanced budget, and an increase in funding for schools the Kansas legislature has put our state back on more stable footing.
The revenue generated by the new plan will allow for investment in our roads and bridges, mental health, safety care clinics, senior care programs, public education; it protects funding for early childhood education and has upgraded our outlook in the eyes of the credit rating agencies.
I was proud to be a part of a broad bi-partisan coalition that pulled our state back from the brink. For the first time in five years a full budget debate was allowed on the house floor. Can you believe that? A deliberative and respectful process put us on the path toward solvency and stability. I am committed to continuing to do business in a way that makes us all proud.
Throughout the session constituents and industry experts alike said time and time again how pleased they were that I was willing to meet with constituents, reply to emails, answer phone calls and read the information provided by industry experts, allowing me to make informed decisions on the floor. This seems like the bare minimum for a public servant, but in previous years this has not been the case.
Communication and transparency are key to a successful democracy; and, it does not stop once the legislative session ends. Maintaining a strong level of communication between me and the community I serve through numerous mediums such as email, social media and mailers can be an expensive process, but it is essential to keeping citizens informed and engaged.
While we've moved the needle, our job is not finished and we can't afford to let up now. I have already filed for re-election in the August 2018 primary so I can continue to fight for the people of Kansas and District 28. But, I need your help and I am writing today to ask for your support. Please consider making a contribution to my campaign via my website, Paypal or CashMe or you can send a paper check to 3310 W. 137th St., Leawood, KS 66224.
Your contribution is critical to keeping us on this new path. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and for your generous support.
BREAKING: Just before the close of business yesterday, Governor Brownback signed the school finance plan into law. It now goes to the Kansas Supreme Court for consideration.
The legislature is officially adjourned until June 26 when we return for “sine die.” It’s nice to have my first legislative session behind me; I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment and relief. Now that I’m back home, I’m busy meeting with constituents and community leaders to debrief them on the major pieces of legislation that passed this session.
After five months of deliberation and debate we have made a historic turn toward correcting the structural imbalance in our state finances. Moderate and Conservative Republicans, and Democrats (88 votes in the house and 27 votes in the Senate) came together on Tuesday this week, finally deciding it had to be done. Speaker Ron Ryckman stated quite succinctly after the vote that it was simply “time to provide certainty for Kansas.”
After several hours of debate on Wednesday and a Final Action vote on Thursday, Sub HB 2410, the school finance bill, passed in the House, 84-39, I voted YES. The bill:
As we began week 14 in the current legislative session we were still waiting to move forward good public policy relating tax reform, school finance formula, guns on campuses and public hospitals, and the 2018 budget. It’s now Friday and there is not much to report to you.
I understand this is normal, but these first two weeks of veto session seem out of place. During the bulk of the session, it was difficult to pare down my newsletters because there was so much going on that was newsworthy. It seemed that most bills had a nugget of broad interest. But now, most committees are done meeting and except for a few items (see summary below), we haven’t been working bills on the House floor. A few times a week a conference committee will forward a report to be debated and voted on, but those have been few and far between. It has been a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. We “gavel in” and “gavel out,” then come back a few hours later to do the same. The big stuff is being negotiated behind the scenes and most of us are not part of that conversation. Here is an update of the “big stuff” still to be decided:
Like all of my colleagues, I’m back in Topeka after our three-week break and ready for Veto Session. The three weeks flew by quickly, probably because they were jam-packed. After celebrating a few days of Passover, Stewart and I took out time to celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary with a week in Mexico. The beach, sun, and sand were a refresher for the challenging work ahead of us in Topeka.