February 15, 2008

District 107th Constituents,

It’s difficult to believe that we’ve already reached week five of this year’s session. It’s been a calm, yet productive year thus far. As we move forward, some of the larger issues before us are beginning to take shape and it appears there will be no shortage of work heading into the heart of the session. Our committees are filling up with legislation, and each day exciting new ideas begin their journey through the legislature.

This week on the House floor I was proud to vote for HB 2730. This measure, which found widespread support, creates the Kansas Taxpayer Transparency Act. Perhaps some of you may not have known that Kansas has actually been recognized as a national leader in the effort to provide full access to the state’s expenditures. The Kansas Taxpayer Transparency Act protects you, the taxpayer, by constructing a website where you will be able to access information on all expenditures in state government. Taxpayers deserve to know exactly where their money is being spent, and this is excellent legislation I was proud to support on your behalf.

Of course, the week would not be complete without an update on the continuing efforts to allow the construction of the Holcomb energy plant. The economic viability of the entire state is at risk unless we are able to establish a consistent and reasonable method of regulating current and future utilities. For this reason and many others, I was encouraged to see the Senate pass the measure in convincing fashion Thursday. The House will begin debate on the bill next week, which will provide each of us an opportunity to dig into the issue and develop a strategy to benefit all Kansans now, and far into the future.

For the 1st time this year, almost all three of my committees have met each day. I asked for additional work earlier in the week and was assigned a department budget to review and make suggestions to the budget committee on any cost savings measures I could notice. This was a good step toward understanding the Kansas budget and to be involved in the appropriation process. The Tax Committee finished the hearing on the proposed Tobacco Tax. It was disturbing to learn that $66M will be sent to Kansas from the Master Settlement Agreement fund with only $1M to be spent on prevention programs. This MSA dollar figure is based on a percentage of the volume of cigarettes sold nationwide. Kansas has been receiving these funds for several years with all but the $1M going into the general fund rather than being spent on health care as I would have expected the funds to be used for. House bill #2751 is a stimulus proposal which would spur more investments in small to medium sized businesses who want to upgrade and expand their operations by allowing them the opportunity to depreciate a purchase all in the first year. We hear a lot of proposals for large businesses with enticements to relocate to Kansas but this one directly effects existing operations with fewer employees. The entire Federal and State Affairs committee heard two bills on daycare centers with granting more control at the local level and changing age groups with the addition of more children to the homes. This is the sub-committee that I was assigned to and we have met two times to work out details with the agency. We will be able to make a recommendation to the whole committee next week. A big thank you to Melanie from the Cloud County Health Department for her input on this matter. The next two weeks will be devoted to the immigration bills and we’ve been told by the committee chairman to expect long meetings. My Agricultural Committee heard from the Dean of Agriculture at Kansas State University and the Kansas Meat Processors Association this week. Senate Bill 89, our Republican water bill, was finally sent out of committee and should now be brought above the line and be debated and voted on hopefully this week. As you can tell, the committee business is picking up and we should be very busy on the house floor as well in the coming weeks.

I have had a quite a few visitors this week in Topeka. Robin LacKamp from Peoples Exchange Bank in Clyde attended a reception this week for the Kansas Bankers Association. The American Legion and VFW held a joint meeting and reception Wednesday evening. Damian and Laura Christenson with the Concordia American Legion and Doug Music with the Concordia VFW took time to see me. President RicK Underbakke, Kim Krull and Gayle Martin from Cloud County Community College attended the Phi Theta Kappa luncheon to recognize two students from CCCC, Walter Jarnot from Milford and Marcus Zumbrunn from Wakefield, as 2007-08 All Kansas Academic Team members The Superintendant of USD 239 (Minneapolis), Larry Combs, attended the Kansas School Board Association dinner with me. It was nice to meet him and remind him that I am a graduate of MHS with my picture hanging in the hallway at the high school! Raymond Pachta from Delphos and Jim Gableman from Lincoln were in the Capital Friday for the Area Agency on Aging Day. Remember if you are driving through Topeka, take the 8th street exit to the capital and visit me and this wonderful building which is becoming more beautiful every week with the restoration. A trip to the top of the dome is a once in a lifetime experience too.

As I mentioned, I anticipate a busy and historic week. I appreciate the feedback I’ve gotten from some of you on the energy legislation as well as the other matters before us. I ask that you please continue to keep me informed of your opinions and wishes. The work being done in Topeka impacts each of us. It’s my honor to serve you, and I need your help in order to perform this work.

As always, please contact me if you have any comments, questions, or concerns. I am serving Topeka for YOU!

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