March 21, 2008

Dear 107th Constituents,

As expected, the Kansas Legislature had one of our busiest weeks yet, passing a number of large scale measures in preparation for yet another busy week ahead as we begin to close in on the final days before our April recess.

The first of these issues that we covered this week was abortion. We passed SB 389 on a veto proof vote of 84-40 which I was proud to support, and believe is critical for protecting life in Kansas. Under the bill women will have the opportunity to see the ultrasound and hear the fetal heart tone of their unborn children. Additionally, they will receive a copy of the written referral justifying the abortion as well as free perinatal hospice and medical services information thirty minutes prior to the procedure. It also includes important administrative provisions to prevent pregnant minor from being brought into the state and expands the prosecutorial powers for the Attorney General’s office.

We also held our first budget debate of the session, recommending $6.359 billion in State General Fund spending - $34.5 million below the Governor’s FY 2009 recommendations. During debate, we considered 19 proposed amendments – holding off $3.8 million in potential additional spending. I was proud of this effort to reduce spending, and think that it will serve the state well in the long run.

Time certainly seems to speed by as the session is nearing the end for this year and there just isn’t enough minutes in a day. Our committees are working and sending out bills fairly rapidly now. If a bill doesn’t make it to the voting process on the floor, it will be dead for the 2-year cycle and must be started again with hearings next year. It often takes many years to move a bill or idea through the system. For several days now we have been on the floor as the “committee of the whole” and haven’t been able to meet in our smaller committees. The tax committee has been concentrating on tax credits and property tax issues and will have bills for us to vote on in the next two weeks. As usual, Federal and State Affairs has been very busy right up to the last minute with a variety of bills. The Kansas Funeral Privacy Act was reworked after a judges ruling and again sent out for a vote of the body with the same provisions as the original with the 150 feet protective barrier against the protesters at a funeral. Several bills dealing with the sale of guns by dealers and defacing ID’s will be ready for debate on the house floor as they were sent out today. We will hear again from KDHE on childcare regulations of adding more children before and after school, local regulation control and a code of conduct for the inspectors. The Ag committee heard from NRA with a proposal to have a constitutional amendment vote on the November ballot for the right to hunt and fish as a Kansas citizen.

On Tuesday, I carried my first bill on the house floor. This is my fifth bill I have carried as a freshman and the first one for the year. It was concerning the transfer of licensing from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to the Kansas Department of Agriculture. It passed with a vote of 125-0. On the same note, a bill will follow next week with the transfer of inspections to KDA as well. It is a daunting feeling standing at the podium and looking out at 124 other people, people in the gallery, in the lobby and now over the internet. I always prepare well as I don’t want to be asked questions on the bill I am presenting but if I describe its purpose in an easy to understand (non-legal sounding way!) then I have done my job.

OCCK from our area hosted a reception Monday night with Jean Modrin and Shelia Nelson-Stout attending from Bennington. It is always a pleasure to see these girls. I had the opportunity to visit with the Lincoln County Leadership class along with Senator Jay Emler from Lindsborg. Class members, Lori Spear, George Miller, Susan Wolleson, Sharon Thompson, Amanda Thompson, Jeremy Abell, Les Richards, Keith Phillips, Jim Williams and John Baetz also met Minority Leader Dennis McKinney who stopped in to visit with them as well. I believe it is important for people to realize that the Legislators, setting party affiliation aside, are all normal Kansas citizens representing normal Kansas people. And we are friends regardless of which party we belong to.

Next week appears to be another busy one, with anticipated debate on healthcare reform, and a host of important legislation making its way to the floor before our recess. I look forward to another smooth week and anticipate substantial progress on some of the larger items left on the calendar.

There is also a chance that the House will consider action in response to the Governor’s proposed veto next week. After learning this week of a potential federal mandate for a power plant to serve the proposed NBAF facility in Manhattan, there’s sure to be a bit of maneuvering on the issue. We remain committed to responsible and intelligent economic development policies, and will continue to work for an ultimate solution on the matter.

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