January 25, 2008

Dear District #107 Constituents,

After a brisk first week filled with excitement and ceremony, the past week has provided the legislature a chance to roll up our sleeves and dig in to some of the most important issues facing our state. With only 90 days to build consensus and find solutions, our workload is always accelerated, but has been quite productive and encouraging so far.
The chief concern this week has been the budget that was released by the Governor’s office last week. One of the toughest chores for this session will be keeping spending in check, and finding reasonable ways to reconcile the obligations that have been postponed or ignored in recent years. Our caucus has a goal to limit any increase in spending to 5%. I plan to work as hard possible to attain this goal, and am confident that we will be able to.
The highly publicized Holcomb negotiations will continue as well, and I trust that we will be able to find a solution that will protect future business prospects, and repair the mistaken message that arbitrary rulings and political gamesmanship are the norm in Kansas. I’m confident we’ll be able to restore our reputation, and look forward to this work as well.
Our work week opened on Tuesday, January 22nd, after the Martin Luther King national holiday on Monday. The committee process is moving along with bills being introduced and different state department updating us on the past years progress. We heard from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management in Taxation on the disasters in Kansas in 2007 and tax related bills to these disasters. The Kansas Lottery updated us on their past year which now will include gaming as an additional branch. Many details still need to be ironed out on gambling including the ruling by the Supreme Count on the constitutionality of state owned casinos. The Department of Agriculture and Commerce has been briefing us on the conservation commission (CREP), watersheds and the continued success of the Kansas Agriculture Product Development. We have yet to “work” or debate any bills in committee but I expect this to begin next week.
The one bill that I have been watching and was hoping to vote on this week - Senate Bill 89, the Republican River Water Conservation projects fund - was referred back to my Ag committee for review and possible minor corrections from last year. So again, I expect to vote on this bill on the floor the next coming week. The only other bill that was debated and only briefly was the satellite voting bill which will give all counties the opportunity to have a satellite voting station where as now only Johnson and Sedgwick have this option.
My evenings are busy after my last committee ends at 5:00PM with receptions and dinners. Tuesday, I met Cloud County Appraiser Barry Porter at his annual legislative visit and with other appraisers from across Kansas. Barry keeps tabs on important issues for our area and updates me when necessary about bills that affect us in either a positive or negative way in north central Kansas. Thursday evening was a special night as I had two groups from District #107 in the city. The Kansas Cooperative Council held their annual meeting and dinner with Dave and Susan Studebaker representing the Delphos Coop in Ottawa County attending. It was my pleasure also to have Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Constantine Cotsoradis, join us at our table. Gary Resco from Clyde with United Coop also took a few minutes to talk to me. Bill and Dorothy Brown, Bill and Charlene Watson from Salt Creek Watershed and Leo and Donna Vonada from Spill Creek Watershed all attended the State Association of Kansas Watershed 57th Annual Banquet. I was honored sit with them at their table along with retired Kansas Legislator Clifford Campbell and his wife Faye from Beloit. I am also very lucky to have Ryan Gilliland from Concordia with me everyday with his new job as the Legislative Assistant to House Speaker Melvin Neufeld.. It is a pleasure to work with him here in Topeka and have a Concordia face to see everyday!
As expected, the session appears to be one filled with serious decisions for each of us as representatives. These are decisions that I will make not as an individual, but as a representative for the people of the 107th district. However, to truly accomplish this goal I need your feedback on the issues that are most important to you. Please contact me with your thoughts, concerns, and ideas. It’s important to stay involved through the next three months, and I look forward to hearing from each of you. And if you have a free day, let me help you line up a tour of this wonderful building which changes with the restoration project on a weekly basis. As always, please contact me if you have any comments, questions, or concerns. I am serving in Topeka for YOU!

Elaine Bowers
House of Representatives
District #107
110 South
300 SW 10th Ave.
Topeka, KS 66612