February 29, 2008

District 107th Constituents,

After a lively week on the House floor spending three full days debating, we have officially reached the first deadline of the legislative session. “Turn-Around” day has finally passed, meaning that any bills originating in the House were approved and sent to the Senate. Likewise, we will be receiving all of the measures that have been granted passage on the Senate side, and I look forward to digging into a fresh set of bills to see what the “middle third” of the legislative session has in store.

Although long and at some points tedious, I was proud of the work that took place this week in the house. We passed substantive measures in a number of key areas and sent some excellent legislation over to the Senate. On Thursday alone, we saw 28 bills on the calendar. One of the most publicized was the reform of our laws on sentencing guidelines, ensuring that judges prescribe appropriate penalties for crimes of extreme sexual violence. This is important legislation that needed to be passed, and I was happy to sign on in support of this bill and vote to protect Kansas’ most vulnerable citizens and uphold the rule of law.

The House also passed a series of legislation in response to recommendations from the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission that is designed to provide voters with more detailed information on campaign contributions and enhance accountability in our elections process. For years, we’ve heard citizens are asking to shine some light on the election process and clarify just where all of those messages during a campaign season are coming from, and these bills do just that.

This week started out as a long one, but progressed quickly. We had two days of hearings in committees with all of mine meeting, and also the two sub-committees that I serve on. Tax had hearings on sales tax exceptions and property tax easements of newly constructed residential properties. Federal and State held the two days of its committee hearings on immigration from both sides of the issue. There are four bills that are being discussed each with different levels of penalties toward illegals and business owners who hire them, both knowingly and unknownly. . Several states have passed tough laws surrounding Kansas which is a driving force to move this out of a committee onto the house floor for debate. We should be working these bills next week. A groundwater use control area (also known as an IGUCA) bill and the grain commodity commission bill were both sent out of Agriculture which we voted on and passed on the house floor today. It was a short week for committees as the majority of our work was done on the house floor adjourning the last two nights around 7:00 p.m. One of the memorial highway bills that was passed out of the House and also the Senate, will name Highway 24 through Senate District 21 and House District 107 as World War II Memorial Highway. Senator Mark and I will work with the state, the American Legion's and VFW'S to have signs erected along the highway in different locations. Senate Bill 89, the Republican River bill is now in Conference Committee where Senator Taddiken can help put the finishing touches on it.

I was very happy to have Chandler and Connor Lamm, Alissa Kearn , Logan Whitley as my pages on Wednesday. As I didn’t have a committee that morning, I was able to take them onto the floor before they began their duties and have lunch with them in the Docking Building via the underground tunnel. Jill Lamm also met Governor Sebelius and had her photo taken with her kids and the Governor. Sheila Biggs was in the Capitol on Wednesday along with the Dickinson County Commissioners on County Commissioner Day. Dave Hazelwood with the American Legion from Concordia stopped in my office when he was here for a Senate hearing. He asked me on the behalf of the American Legion to deliver the Memorial Day speech in Concordia. I am very honored to do this and let’s hope we have a beautiful Kansas day so we can stand outside at the Avenue of Flags to honor our Veterans together.
As I mentioned, we’ll have a fresh set of legislation to pour over after a long weekend, and I’ll be sure to update you on which measures I’ll be zeroing in on and look forward to hearing your input on anything that might be brewing back home. We’ve had a great session so far, and I am confident it will continue into our middle stretch and look forward to this work.

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 #107th
300 SW 10th Avenue
Room 110-S
Topeka, KS 66612