February 01, 2007

District 107 Constituents,

The session is off and running as a number of bills are being introduced and discussed both in committee and on the House of Representatives floor. As always, please contact me at the above numbers or Email if I can be of service to you in regards to any bill or issue. I am in Topeka to serve YOU!

Another week has quickly gone by with house bills moving from committees to the house floor for discussion. Federal and State Affairs heard a hearing on a bill relating to surplus property and public airport authorities which was sent out of committee. Hearings on several bills including consumer price index for property tax purposes, income tax credit for service by volunteer firefighter, EMS providers and health care professionals took place in Taxation. Dr. Art Hall from KU talked to us about Taxation and Migration. Ag briefings have included vehicle tank metering, dam inundation and farm and ranch land protection program. Congressman Jerry Moran spoke to the joint Senate and House Agriculture Committees about the National Farm Bill Thursday morning. The Kansas Wheat, Corn, Soybean and Grain Sorghum Commission as well as the Kansas Water office gave us updates on their programs. The subcommittee on commercial applicator certification reported to the Agricultural & National Resources with the recommendation that the Department of Agricultural could make the required changes in policy and would not need to amend any Kansas statutes. I was pleased to have served on this sub-committee to learn more about the bill process from the ground level up. Danny McReynolds with the Cloud County Fair and will testify on Monday before the Agricultural committee concerning the election of fair board members in Cloud County. I have learned whenever possible, citizens are encouraged to join in on the law making process and to be part of the development of the bill. Bills concerning election polling places, renaming of highways and state parks, conservation and blending of bio fuels for farmers passed on the house floor during the week.

Several conferences were held in Topeka including City Hall Days at the Capital and I was joined after session last Thursday with Concordia City Manager Larry Paine, Commissioners Darrel Hosie and Joe Jendra. Lincoln County Commissioners Steve Errebo and Al Jo Wallace along with Paul Winkler with the economic development council also were in town for a utilities hearing concerning alternative energy. I was pleased to meet with Bishop Coakley of the Salina Dioceses at the Catholic Legislators’ Annual Get-together. Farm Bureau held their Annual meeting and dinner January 31st and Greg Askren, Marilyn Martin, Cathy & Tom Forshee joined me in hearing Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus and Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Raymond Splitter and Brenden Wirth with the Lincoln County Farm Bureau also were in attendance and we discussed a future Farm Bureau forum in Lincoln County with Senator Jay Emler. Wendy Granau with Lincoln County EMS along with other statewide Firefighters and EMS’s attended a Taxation meeting and she took time to meet me before her conference ended.

Nick and Katie Ledet of Lincoln were my 1st pages of this session along with Haley and Caleb Bowers of Concordia. They ran errands for the legislators, helped staff set up committee rooms plus other small tasks. I had a lot of compliments on all four pages - they represented their schools of Lincoln and Concordia very well. Jody Ledet, Nick and Katie’s mom, spent the day in the Capital and climbed to the top of the dome with all of the pages at the end of their page duties.

Saturday, February 10th, Senator Mark Taddiken and I will be in Glasco or Clyde and Concordia with Farm Bureau announcing the time and locations for coffee and cookies. We hope you will be able to attend.

A number of the Governor’s budget proposals are now being discussed in the legislature. I was concerned with one of her recommendations to increase Kansas Turnpike tolls by 35% in order to pay for deferred maintenance issues at Kansas Regent Schools. Raising Kansas Turnpike tolls for citizens across the state creates a “Kansas University Tax.” Further, imposing a “University Tax” or as some would call a “traveler’s tax” is not a responsible way to address education funding issues. This is concerning because I just supported a measure to address crumbling classrooms at Regent Universities. Senate Bill 30 passed the House 105-17 last week, providing guaranteed funding for years two and three of the school finance plan for K-12 education in addition to allocating $75 million for Regent’s schools and establishing a $40 million a year debt reduction fund without a tax increase.

Elaine Bowers
District 107
Kansas House of Representatives