Jerry's Capitol Journal 

"Preview of the 2018 Legislative Session"
As we get ready to start the next session of the Legislature on January 8, I wanted to bring you up to date on what I see as the most pressing topics we will be dealing with in Topeka.
1. School Finance
This will be the most important topic we deal with this year. The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the school finance plan does not sufficiently address either the adequacy requirements or the equity requirements necessary to satisfy the Kansas Constitution. Determining how to raise enough revenue necessary to satisfy the adequacy requirement will be a point of contention. There will be factions wanting to:
  1. Change the Kansas Constitution,
  2. Defy the Supreme Court and do nothing,
  3. Raise money using increased income tax revenues,
  4. Raise money with a variety of “sin tax” increases and sales taxes. 
We have to have something ready for the Court by the end of March. I will keep you informed on this issue as it progresses through the Legislature.
2. Medicaid Expansion
Both the House and the Senate passed a Medicaid Expansion bill last session but, after saying he wouldn’t, the Governor vetoed the bill. We couldn’t get the last two conservative Republican votes we needed to override the Governor’s veto in the House and the three votes we needed in the Senate. Not expanding Medicaid has cost lives, has cost Kansas hundreds of millions of federal dollars and has put numerous hospitals on the verge of closing. This will be brought up again in this Session, hopefully with better results.
3. Guns on Campuses
We made some real progress last session on initiating some common-sense laws to combat gun violence. Unfortunately, there were enough conservatives in the House and Senate that believe having guns on our campuses is a really good idea. In the end, we were unable to stop that legislation -- it will be back in the discussion this year.
4. Staggered Senate Elections
I have pre-filed a bill that would require Senate elections to be held every two years with half the Senate up for election to a four year term every other two year election cycle. This would increase the Senate’s accountability to its constituents, encourage moderation in the development of legislation and would guard against extremists, from either the left or the right, from taking over the Senate in a single election. Kansas is one of only nine states that do not stagger Senate terms. This needs to change.

5. Fully Funding KDOT and KPERS
Funding the Kansas budget has been and continues to be deceptive in that hundreds of millions of dollars have been “borrowed” from the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System during the Brownback administration. These funds have been used to cover shortfalls caused by the disastrous Brownback “tax experiment” that almost financially ruined the state.  “Borrowing” this money has cost Kansas thousands of good paying construction jobs and put a potentially disastrous strain on the retirement system for our teachers and other public employees. Our teachers and public employees have faithfully paid into the system while the Brownback administration has consistently failed to deliver the state money owed to the retirement fund. We need to correct both of these situations which will in turn create real job growth and fulfill our obligations to our teachers and public employees.
6. Due Process for Teachers and Public Employees
At the beginning of the last Session I offered an amendment to a bill that would return due process rights to our teachers and public employees. Due process protects the rights of employees to challenge being terminated for an unjust cause. It was a process that had worked effectively in Kansas for decades until some anti-public education conservatives had it removed in a last minute maneuver, without even a hearing, in the 2014 session of the Legislature. Restoring due process protects both employers and employees and offers a cost effective way to address these issues rather than going to court. My amendment passed the House last session but continues to sit in the Senate without being addressed. I plan to work with allies in the Senate to get this issue up for a vote.
7. Reinstating the Kansas Arts Commission
One of Governor Brownback’s first acts was to abolish the Kansas Arts Commission. His disdain for the arts and cultural community is an impediment to economic development as well as an attack on our quality of life. The arts and cultural community is a major employer in Kansas. Companies from out-of-state that are looking to re-locate or expand are not going to come to an area that is considered a cultural wasteland. The arts and cultural industry in Kansas helps keep businesses in Kansas and helps attract new businesses to our state. I have introduced a bill to reinstate the Kansas Arts Commission and to reaffirm our commitment to an industry that employs thousands of Kansas while improving the quality of life for all Kansas families. 
8. Other Important Issues of Interest
As you know the Legislature deals with hundreds of pieces of legislation and ideas for legislation every year. There are far too many to list here. Along with the issues listed above these are some of the most important issues coming before the Legislature in 2018.
  • Protecting our foster children from abuse and providing better oversight of their care, educational opportunities and general well-being
  • Properly funding our community colleges, colleges and universities
  • Finding ways to eliminate voter suppression and encourage voter participation
  • Supporting programs to help our veterans and military institutions
  • Supporting clean energy economic development
  • Legalizing the production of industrial hemp
  • Legalizing physician-prescribed cannabis-based medications
  • Improving our prison system and making it more fair and cost efficient
  • Addressing the growing concern for our diminishing water resources
As you can see we have lots to do.  As always, I ask for your support as we address these issues. My effectiveness in Topeka is always better when I can count on the wisdom, expertise and good ideas generated by the people of the 21st District.  Please, if you have any questions or suggestions about the events in Topeka, do not hesitate for a moment to get in touch.  Constituents that ask questions, provide new ideas and offer suggestions are some of the best ways to initiate and pass legislation that truly benefits the people of Kansas.
As we enter this critical election year I am encouraging everyone to get informed, get involved and be ready to vote for candidates that will put the good of the people over the politics of Party. Our democracy is based on the idea that we have an informed electorate that demands the highest standards from their representatives, at all levels of government, and demands that people always come before politics. I will continue to do my best to adhere to those standards and expectations. 
Thank you for allowing me to represent the people of the 21st District -- it is an honor and a privilege that I do not and will not take for granted.
Please consider a donation towards my 2018 re-election campaign



Room: 452-S


4414 Tomahawk Road
Prairie Village, KS

Johnson County Young Democrats January Meeting
Jan. 23rd, 2018 6-7 PM
Voters Denied: Pulling Back The Curtains
Hosted by the Mainstream Coalition
Jan. 25th, 7-8:30 PM

Fundraiser Super Bowl Sunday Fundraiser
Hosted by the Johnson County Democratic Women
Feb. 4th, 4-10 PM

Daily at 3:30 pm
Location: 546-S

Commerce, Labor and Economic Development
Daily at 1:30 PM
Location: 112-N

Veterans and Military Affairs
Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00 am
Location: 152-S