February 22, 2008

107th Constituents

As we close in on the first round of significant deadlines for the 2008 session, week six proved to be an eventful one. The deadline for introduction of bills has passed, and next week will be the final chance for a bill to be cleared by its house of origin before "Turn-Around" day. The hearings on House bills are beginning to wrap up as well. The last day for committees to meet is Tuesday and the House of Representatives plan to be on the floor all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday finishing up the first half of business.

This week, we had the first round of votes in the highly publicized energy debate. The House version of the bill cleared by an overwhelming margin, but is still short of the required majority to override the Governor's anticipated veto. A conference committee comprising both House and Senate members will attempt to build a consensus on the best option not only for the Holcomb energy facility, but also for our state's long term approach to energy and power production.

I have mentioned several weeks in a row how slow it has been and that we only have 90 days here but now the pace it picking up - and fast at that! My day still begins at 7AM where I have quiet time to answer letters and read. Interesting enough, there are quite a few legislators who start early as I do and come back to work after the receptions and dinners. All three of my committee meetings have met this week with full agendas. Tax has had several hearings but one important bill to the disaster areas was sent out. We still are working on the corporate tax reduction bill which is pulling together the business community and the Department of Revenue. There is one more proposed bill which would increase the Board of Tax Appeals from three members to five. My most difficult committee, Federal and State Affairs which is often called the “sin committee” here, has heard two days worth of bills on abortion - one of how doctor reports are filled out and another dealing with late-term abortions laws, and parental notice. We also covered lobbing expenses of local units of government and a bill dealing with how appeal judges are appointed with a proposed new nominating commission. We continue to hear from the commodity commissions to raise their checkoff rates in Agricultural and Natural Resources. One bill would allow Kansas produced wine to be sold at the Kansas State Fair which as been prohibited by law. This new segment of agriculture has seen a dramatic growth in recent years. This would be a boast to the Grape Growers exposure as the fair has the largest turnout of any Kansas event each year. And probably the best news for us along the Republican river - our
SB-89 was sent out for a vote on the house floor and passed 118-0. Now any funds from Colorado or Nebraska will be used for conservation programs and damage done from the loss of water from these states if and when a law suit is filed and won by the state of Kansas.

We are still working four bills in my Federal and State Committee sub committee dealing with inspections of child care facilities and local control. KDHE has held listening tours across the state to see what can be improved and have discovered a need for additional help to working families before school starts and after school. We also noted that there needs to be consistency and continuity with the inspectors and the rules. We should offer a bill or recommendation to the F&S committee on Tuesday about the direction of this topic. The second sub-committee I have been assigned to is from the Tax committee to the review of the process of rebates or tax credits for the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles. There is a current process but few people use it as the law is written now. We would like to see more people take advantage of the tax rebate and promote alternative fuels in Kansas.

It was a busy week of activities in the Capitol building. 4-H members attended their Citizenship in Action Conference on Monday. I was very happy to have Clayton Stubbs from Abilene High School as my 4-Her from District #107. David Abel from Barnard participated in “Concrete Day on the Hill” with the cement councils and Rob Jobs from Lincoln with Emergency Management were both in Topeka on Wednesday. Wayne Reed from Minneapolis serves on the board of the Petroleum Marketers and attended his legislative day in the city and had lunch with the legislators. Gail Whitley and the Peer to Peer group were here on Wednesday as well, and sat in on a portion of a Federal and State committee meeting. My former downtown mailman, Warren Regnier, stopped by my office in support of Mental Health day with a group from north-central Kansas.

I appreciate your interest in the work taking place in Topeka, and look forward to hearing your input. For those of you following legislation, remember that next week is our last chance to act on House bills, so please contact me with any final thoughts or suggestions at your earliest convenience. I look forward to closing out the month on a productive note, and I'm excited to dig into the middle stretch of our session-with perhaps some warmer weather!

Finally, as always, I want to stress how important it is to me to hear from each of you. It’s always fun to hear from friendly voices, and your input on the issues before us is the central theme behind the work I am performing on your behalf. I appreciate those of you who have already reached me, and look forward to hearing more!

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

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