House Happenings Week 5

In a few short weeks the legislature will have reached the official halfway point of the 2012 session, known as “turnaround.” After turnaround, each chamber may only consider the other chamber’s proposals. As always, I’ll keep you updated and encourage you to stay informed of the issues under consideration by the Kansas Legislature. Committee schedules, bills, and other helpful information can be easily accessed through the legislature’s website at www.kslegislature.org. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions

Visitors
This week was a very busy one in Topeka with conventions, legislative days and visitors from home. Linda Sutton with the KS Small Business Development Center from Cloud County visited legislators in their Capitol offices on Tuesday. The County Treasurers held their annual event on the 9th with Joyce Walker, Lincoln County Treasurer, Leah Hern from Dickinson and Pat Baccus from Ottawa attending the two day training session with the State. Nurses’ Cam Koerber, Marleen Parker and Carolyn Winebrenner met with me and joined the audience at my Social Service Budget committee. They were in Topeka for the Kansas State Nursing Association of Kansas. Ben Foster and Scott Leitzel with Twin Valley Telephone and Brian Boisvert with Wilson Telephone Company met with me on Wednesday at the Independent Telephone Association of KS & KS Telecommunications Industry Association Reception. Susie Haver and Tammy Britt from the Cloud County Convention & Tourism were at the Tourism Industry Association of Kansas Day (TIAK) and had their annual legislative dinner on Thursday evening. Cameron (Cami) Thurner with the Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas visited with me at the Safe Home, Safe Street reception after her day at the statehouse. I so appreciate everyone who takes time out of their schedule during their Topeka visit to see me and I am happy to give tours when my days allow.

Committee work
Water is still a big topic in Agriculture and is a major priority of Governor Brownback. Three bills were sent out of committee and will be heard on the House floor this coming week. I carried HB2503 on Friday on the floor – this means I prepared a bill brief and presented it to the “committee of the whole” or all 125 of us. It modifies four advisory boards two of which are the Dairy and Wine Advisory Boards. The Ag committee heard testimony from Ag Secretary Rodman that there are more than 124,000 cows in Kansas producing 2.4 billion pounds of milk and 182,115 grape vines producing 107,000 gallons of wine for the 2010 agriculture year. Federal and State Affairs sent out several gun related bills and had a two day hearing on an abortion bill HB 2598 and are preparing for the week long debate on a number of immigration bills. Social Service Budget will be winding down committee work with the SRS and KDHE budgets which by far are part of the largest expenditures’ in Kansas at two billion dollars combined. The Agencies and conferees will be heard all week in this committee.

Kansas Redistricting 2012 (HB 2606)
The House made a significant step forward this week in the redistricting process by passing the new House district map, known as “Cottonwood 1”, contained in HB 2606. The bi-partisan bill was approved by the House on Thursday by a vote of 109 to 14 and is now in the Senate awaiting further action. Traditionally, the House and Senate abide by the wishes of the other chamber and simply approve the new map for their respective maps.

Expanded Liquor Sales (HB 2532)
For several years Kansas has entertained serious debate on substantially expanding liquor sales in Kansas. This week, the debate continued in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee as two days of hearings were held on HB 2532. If passed, the bill would immediately allow grocery and convenience stores to sell full strength beer and wine if they have a Class A or B license. However, those stores would be prevented from selling spirits until January 1, 2016 unless they purchase an existing Class C license from an individual or retailer in their county. As I indicated earlier, this is not the first time this legislation has been introduced, and there are many more arguments than these. Like any issue, there are two sides to this story and both have valid viewpoints. I would appreciate your opinion on this bill and how it could affect you and your community. A topic like this will usually have many layers, so it’s important to research all of our opinions thoroughly before reaching a conclusion. Your feedback always assists me in this regard.

Repealer Update
This session Secretary Taylor with the Office of the Repealer has introduced 20 pieces of legislation in the House alone to do away with outdated rules and regulations, expired commissions, and other aspects of state law viewed as unnecessary. The Office of the Repealer was established in January 2011 by Governor Brownback and tasked with finding policies, regulations, and areas of government for possible repeal. In 2011 alone, the Office received 506 suggestions. If you believe that an unreasonable, unduly burdensome, duplicative, onerous or conflicting law, regulation or other governing instrument, detrimental to the economic well-being of Kansas, exists, please visit http://repealer.ks.gov. You may also send your suggestion to: Office of the Repealer, 1000 S.W. Jackson, Ste. 500, Topeka, KS 66612

I hope you take the time to track the Legislature’s work in Topeka over the course of the 2012 session. I encourage you to let me know your thoughts on the issues discussed by the legislature and others which might be affecting you. Please feel free to call or e-mail and I’d be happy to discuss any topic you are interested in. Thank you for the honor of serving you!

Rep. Elaine Bowers
Kansas State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th St.
Room 54-S
Topeka, KS 66612
elaine.bowers@house.ks.gov
1-785-296-7642