February 01, 2008

District 107th Constituents,

The third week of the legislative session has proved to be our most productive so far. There are a number of new proposals winding their way though committees and reaching the floor, as well as an initial offering from the Energy and Utilities Committee, and a preliminary decision in the Governor’s gaming lawsuit. Both of these issues will play a major role in the session, and I will be encouraging everyone involved to remain focused on the ultimate goal for us as legislators, a prosperous Kansas.
The proposed energy bill was announced on Wednesday, and each member has been carefully determining where they stand on the offering. The bill is the result of a long summer of work and consensus building. While I’m sure it may be a bumpy road to passage, I’m confident that members understand how crucial the bill is, particularly to western Kansas. In the end, we will find a way to enact some form of a proposal, and allow the session to progress with the issue behind us—and the state better for it.
As I hoped, my committee meetings are picking up pace as well. We sent out one bill from Tax concerning Kansans working in Missouri and are currently hearing from the Kansas Department of Revenue on corporate tax incentives and the department’s proposal for this year. I’ve heard several property tax relief bills will be teed up to be heard in a few weeks as well. Earlier in the week, we had guest speakers and Secretary of Transportation, Deb Miller, update us on the motor fuel tax and the effects of vehicles with better fuel economy and the reduction of federal dollars for the highway fund. User fees on how much or how far we drive might be alternatives in the future to fuel tax. Federal & State Affairs met only once but it was a very lively hearing on daycare centers and licensing. I was asked to serve on a sub-committee on this topic which covers two proposed bills, one which would put the licensing back in the hands local governments as it had been years before. I would welcome your thoughts on this if you would like to contact me before the committee meets. I am of the opinion that the best government is the one closest to the people. The Ag and Natural Resources committee heard from the commissions - Wheat, Corn, Sorghum, Soybeans and Sunflowers - and their proposed bill of raising the checkoff in each of their commissions. The last bill that was heard SB 89, the Republican River fund bill, is the one we’ve been waiting on. It seems bills often need “tweaking” and this is one of them - hopefully we will be able to work it and send it out to the floor for a vote next week. That is not the end of the process though - Senator Mark will follow it through again in the Senate for the final vote.
My first pages of their year drove through a snowstorm to arrive here. Jake and Anna Morrissette of Concordia came in on Tuesday. As it was Kansas day, they had a very exciting time and even helped sing Home on the Range on the floor with us. It was a slow day in session (we have only voted on one bill) but they were able to have more time to meet more legislators & leadership on both sides of the isle and see the process up close. Judge Guy Steier attended the Kansas District Magistrate Judge meeting and took time to stop by during the day. The Kansas Electric Cooperatives held their annual dinner with three co-ops in our district attending. It is always a pleasure to see my childhood neighbors the Allison’s from Delphos. Kansas Small Business Development consultant, Linda Sutton, from Concordia was at the Capital Thursday and updated me on her work in the area. Last night, the County Treasurers held their yearly reception with Leah Hern from Dickinson County and Pat Baccus from Ottawa County participating. And as I always mention - please drop by if you are driving through town and have a few minutes to stop by the Capital. The restoration work is still busy and the building changes each week!
Finally, it’s important to reiterate how important it is to get your feedback and input on the issues before us. As committees begin to fill up with proposals, and legislation really begins to take shape it’s a great time to propose new measures and ideas. As always, please contact me if you have any comments, questions, or concerns. I am serving in Topeka for YOU!

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