April 04, 2008

Dear 107th Constituents,

It’s difficult to imagine we’ve already reached our “Spring Break” in the 2008 session, but after a long week of negotiations between House and Senate conference committees and a few late nights on the House floor we are finally there. It’s always a grueling process as we make it through the final crunch, but at hectic as it’s been I’m proud of the legislation we’ve crafted and excited to get back the district and speak with all of you about our progress.

This part of session is exciting but exhausting - we do a lot of sitting on the house floor waiting for conference committee reports. These reports are from meetings held with committee members - three from each the Senate and the House - where compromises are made between the two chambers. Often times bills are added together in a “package” and we are asked to adopt the committee report which all six conferees have signed. Here is where I must be paying attention and make sure I supported all of the bills in the report and not have one bad one included. I have noticed that this rarely happens as these bills are heavily scrutinized through the process of both the hearings and House and Senate debate. Even amendments that were added on to the bill on the house floor can be removed by the conference committee thus changing the bill from the form it was voted on. We are hearing from all committees but the focus this year is on energy, immigration and state spending. The budget bill or also known as the Mega bill is the 1st step in passing the state budget. When we come back from recess, we will then take up the Omnibus budget which is the final state budget and again, we must concur with the Senate.

The well publicized debate concerning a Kansas energy policy and the Holcomb energy plant saw a key vote on Friday, passing a new bill, H Sub for SB 148 with an overwhelming majority. The final vote was 83-41, leaving us just one vote short of a veto proof margin, but I’m optimistic that our action will send a strong message to the Governor that it’s clear to many Kansans she’s on the wrong side of the issue. Kansans—particularly western Kansans—who are in jeopardy of seeing sky rocketing rates deserve better than to be ignored for partisan political gain. We’ll continue to garner support, and I am hopeful that the significant time and effort spent during this session on behalf of our constituents will soon pay off.

In addition to the energy debate, we had long nights discussing the budget and appropriations process, immigration, taxation and a number of different items from our Republican agenda. We’ve held the line on spending and will come in under the Governor’s proposed budget and our self imposed 5% increase in spending. We passed tough legislation to crack down on employers knowingly hiring illegal immigrants as well. All of these measures, in addition to the stricter guidelines on abortion clinics that was approved on Friday in the Senate make for a successful week heading into the break.

I was very happy to have two pages from Miltonvale, Jesse Patterson and Triston Steptor on Friday. They had a very busy day and worked until 2:00 p.m. with a lunch break that included a walk through the underground tunnel. Please let me know if you have a student in the 5th grade or higher who might be interested in paging next year and I can put them down on a list to call for a date in the next session.

As I mentioned, we will now recess until the end of the month when we head back to Topeka for our veto session. Because of the way our year has stacked up it appears that this year’s veto session will be longer than others in the past. With the debates looming on energy, as well as our omnibus budget package in which a host of measures fall under the umbrella of a single bill we’ll have a hectic week, but as always, it’s work I’m proud to do.

I’m excited to be back home soon and look forward to being in touch with as many of you as possible. As interesting and fulfilling my time here in Topeka is, always best to be back home and I’m certainly looking forward to it again this year.

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