Mid-January legislative Update

Jerry's Capitol Journal 

"Mid-January Legislative Update"
It was a slow week, two weeks actually, on the floor of the Kansas House of Representatives. No bills came before the House for either debate or vote, but there were plenty of discussions in committees, between legislators and with constituents. Those discussions should translate into legislation coming before the House as early as this coming week. Some of this legislation will address the following topics:

Transparency in Kansas Government
Transparency in state government is a thing of the past under the current conservative Republican administration. The Kansas City Star released a series of stories highlighting a disturbing lack of transparency across state agencies and within the administration.

Kansas House Democrats stand poised to hold the administration and state agencies accountable and restore transparency to the Kansas government. It is imperative that the citizens of our state are informed and included in the decisions and issues that affect them. We are committed to full transparency and will be introducing multiple pieces of legislation this session to ensure accountability and honesty in the democratic process.

You can view the “Secret Kansas” stories here:


School Finance
The biggest issue being considered is school finance and how to address the adequacy and equity concerns of the Kansas Supreme Court. There are a number of ideas being discussed on how to address these concerns and how to finance the solutions that will satisfy the Court.

We heard reports on two of these ideas in the Education Committee this week, neither of which seemed to make any sense to me. The first would require an 18% cut in the budgets of all state agencies, which would essentially shut down the ability of the state to perform its critical functions. The second idea was to create a constitutional amendment that would change the wording in the Kansas Constitution to more closely mirror the wants and philosophy of those conservatives who seem to have no use for public schools and would prefer to limit the state’s ability to support them.

Fortunately, I don’t see either plan gaining much traction thanks to those of us who actually believe state government provides a valuable function for our citizens. We understand the immense value our public schools provide for the future of our children and for the future economic growth and prosperity of our state.
Medicaid Expansion
As you may remember from last year, the House and Senate came together to pass Medicaid expansion legislation in Kansas only to have the Governor veto the bill. We came up two votes short in the House and three in the Senate which were necessary to override the Governor’s veto. 

By not expanding Medicaid in Kansas the Governor and his ultra-conservative followers in the Legislature have cost Kansans hundreds of millions of dollars in federal assistance that would have provided critical health care for over 150,000 Kansans. This federal assistance would have come back to Kansas from the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes Kansans have paid. Those Kansas tax dollars have now gone to states that HAVE passed Medicaid expansion.  Not supporting Medicaid expansion in Kansas is the result of a purely political decision by the Governor and his legislative followers who seem to have more allegiance to the conservative power structure in Washington rather than concern for the health and well-being of tens of thousands of our fellow Kansans.

This issue is far from dead and it will be back before the Legislature this year.

Lowering the Sales Tax on Food
Sales taxes are the most regressive taxes a government can impose and they impose a disproportionate burden on the middle class and our most vulnerable citizens. I believe that any future financial plan developed to support our schools, healthcare and other vital government services needs to be developed in conjunction with a commitment to lower and finally eliminate all sales taxes on food. I am sure this will be a major discussion in the Legislature this session.

Staggering Senate Terms
House Concurrent Resolution 5017 is a piece of legislation that I have submitted and is now in front of the House Elections Committee.  This is a constitutional amendment that would require half the Senate to be elected to their present four year terms every TWO years instead of all of them being elected all at once every four years. This will bring to the Senate more citizen oversight and accountability, it will establish a political process that will encourage moderation in crafting legislation and it will create an election process that would eliminate extremists from either the right or the left from being able to take over the Senate in a single election. Passage of the amendment will have a positive and profound impact on the legislative process in Topeka. 
These are some of the more important topics that will be coming before the Legislature this year.  I will keep you informed on these and the myriad of other issues we will be dealing with as the Session progresses. 

As always, I am seeking your support, your questions and your suggestions as we go about representing the people of Kansas. We are indeed stronger and wiser when we as Representatives and constituents work together on these issues. It is a pleasure and a privilege to represent the people of the 21st District and I look forward to working WITH you and FOR you in this very important 2018 session of the Kansas Legislature.
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