January 30, 2009

Greetings,

February is already upon us, and as we close out January, I want to take a moment during this week’s legislative wrap-up to note a particularly important occasion for all of us--Kansas Day (January 29th)! With such rich tradition and heritage, I encourage each of you to spend a few minutes tracing the fascinating steps of our state history. Kaylee Conwell, Brenn and Garrett Brummett from Concordia served as pages for me on this day. I’m sure they will never forget singing our state song, “Home on the Range” with the entire house.

Other than this, it was business as usual this week, with bills being read into the calendar and committees holding hearings on their designated topics. As these bills are processed through committees we will begin to see more reaching the house floor for full debate next week.

In addition to these House measures, we will also begin debate next week on Senate Bill 23, addressing the state budget for the 2009 fiscal year. With only a few months left in the fiscal year, the task of cutting over $300 million and perhaps more will be both daunting and painful. However, unless decisive action is taken, the cuts will be more dramatic for all of our affected agencies and citizens. This budget discussion is so all consuming and we have to remember, this is a “fix” for the 2009 budget and we have yet to begin to discuss the 2010 budget.

Commerce and Labor Committee has been an important committee to be assigned to, as I receive daily calls from our district on the difficulty of applying for unemployment benefits. The call center is unable to keep up with claims that are being called in and the online service has been tricky to use. Please feel free to call me at 785-296-7644 if you are having this trouble and allow me to call the Department of Labor for you. A bit of encouragement from state figures – District #107’s unemployment rates are still lower than most of the state, 3 of the 4 counties have a rate under 4% (50 counties are under this percentage) from the last report. Agriculture and Natural Resources has met everyday with reports from commissions and state agencies. The Wine Industry Council will be proposing a bill to allow wine to be sold at farmers markets. This issue will probably be heard in Federal & State Affairs which is my other afternoon meeting but was presented to us in Ag. Another topic that would be or interest us is House Bill 2049 which would allow Hunter Safety classes to be taught in schools. The Kansas Department of Wildlife has such a program that they have implemented in 18 schools, this bill would help expand the program.

Stephen Boor and Brenden Wirth from Lincoln County, Sonya Garwood from Concordia and President of KFB, Steve Baccus, from Ottawa County all braved the Kansas cold day on Tuesday to attend Kansas Farm Bureau Day in Topeka. Sonya also had a tour of the Treasurer’s Office by the new State Treasurer Dennis McKinney before the house session the next day. I would encourage anyone who has a free day to visit us here in Topeka and watch a committee meeting or attend the session – I can help arrange tours not only of the Capitol but other places as well.

I was very honored to make an official birth announcement of our new granddaughter with a Point of Personal Privilege on Wednesday of the house floor. This is the recorded journal entry:

It is always thrilling to stand down here – however it is even more thrilling to share my milestones with my colleagues. Monday afternoon, my son, Charles and his wife Julie were in labor. I clutched my phone waiting for it to vibrate with a call or text. After numerous texts from me, I received one back – things going very well – texting stinks!! Four hours later, I get a picture text – no words – just a picture of a pink baby in a pink blanket – all of 15 minutes old. Madalyn Kay Bowers came in our world at 5:13PM weighing in at 7lb 1oz and 19 ¾ inches tall. BTW (by the way) - my response to my son’s – texting stinks – yes, but life is good. His response: life is very, very good! I’ll 2nd that - very good indeed!! Thank you for allowing me to share this moment with you.
Rep. Elaine Bowers District #107

Please contact me anytime with your comments or suggestions. You can find me in on the 7th Floor of the Docking Building or email me at: elaine.bower@house.ks.gov or phone me at
785 296-7644. It’s my honor to serve you, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and seeing you in Topeka!

Elaine Bowers
House of Representatives
District 107
300 SW 10th Avenue
Room 110-S
Topeka, KS 66612
785-296-7644
bowers@house.state.ks.us