House Happenings Week 8

Last week, the Legislature reached the halfway point of the 2012 session. As a result, we did not convene on Monday or Tuesday to give clerical staff time to process the large amount of legislation passed in advance of the turnaround deadline. The second half of the session will pass by quickly and the pace of legislative business will be rapid. In the next few weeks the House focus will primarily be on legislation which passed the Senate and has made its way to the House - all of which must be done before the regular session ends on March 31st.

Visitors
Due to the short week, only one major function was held in the city. Gary Nelson from USD 298 and Larry Combs from USD 239 sat with me at the annual School Board yearly meeting. Superintendents and school board members from across the state attend this annual educational seminar and dinner with more than 200 educators attending.

February Revenue Returns
This week the Kansas Department of Revenue reported tax-only collections for February totaled $261.4 million, $29.9 million above the estimate of $232.2 million. Sales taxes were up $10.3 million (6.9 percent) with $160 million collected. Individual income tax receipts from February were $53.7 million, $18.6 million (53.4 percent) above the $35 million projection. The February revenue figures indicate the state continues to slowly make economic improvements. However, research shows revenues will remain to be erratic as the economy continues to gradually recover.

Redistricting Kansas

The significant amount of legislation that was debated and voted on by the House leading up to last week’s turnaround resulted in us temporarily slowing our work on redrawing the new congressional district maps. Thursday was the deadline for members to submit their proposed congressional district map for consideration by the redistricting committee. To view all the maps under consideration please visit http://redistricting.ks.gov. There you can view all House, Senate, Congressional, and State Board of Education district maps under consideration by the House and Senate.

Statehouse Meditation Chapel (HB 2694)
HB 2694 proposes the return of an all faiths chapel to the Kansas Statehouse. The public room would be available to visitors, staff, and elected officials to use for uninterrupted prayer, reflection, or quiet. Private funds would be used to complete the chapel and it would be officially named and furnished in a manner that does not promote one religion over another and will be available for all to use for private moments of prayer, reflection, quiet and privacy. The idea of a statehouse mediation room is a familiar one in Kansas. In 1960, the legislature authorized the creation of an interfaith meditation room and it continued as such until the mid-1970s when it was redesigned, although the reasoning is unknown. Six other states have similar mediation rooms. The room will eventually be a part of the capitol visitor’s center (also built with private funding) in the Statehouse basement.

As always, I’ll keep you updated on the activities of the legislature while we continue through the second half of the session. Again, I always 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. I always enjoy hearing from my constituents on the topics under consideration and appreciate the perspective from those outside the Statehouse. 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