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Legislator heads home early

5/20/2012

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

With work stacking up at home, Rep. Dan Collins decided to skip the last week of what has become a raucous legislative session.

"I just had too much stuff at home to take care of," Collins said Friday of the reason why he hasn't been in Topeka over the past week. "I've got cattle. I have fence out."

While Collins, R-Plainville, said his decision to head back home wasn't simply a matter of jumping ship as soon as the Legislature reached its 90th day, that's effectively what happened.

As it turned out, May 11 -- Collins's last day in House chambers in Topeka -- was the 90th day of what had been scheduled to be a 90-day session. As of Saturday, the Legislature has been in session for 96 days.

Collins said little was being accomplished in Topeka, laying blame for the lack of progress squarely at the doorstep of the Kansas Senate.

"They won't settle up on the map," Collins said of the Senate's inability to make any progress on redistricting. "We sent the Senate a very good budget. It was very good.

"The Senate killed it."

Collins said he talked with both House Speaker Mike O'Neal and Majority Leader Arlen Seigfried before leaving.

"They didn't have a problem with it," he said. "They understand I had business at home I had to take care of."

And he was "assuming" the Legislature would adjourn Wednesday to allow for Senate leaders to attend a previously scheduled conference.

"The House did its business, and it needs to be made public that the Senate didn't do its job," Collins said.

Collins also said he isn't abandoning the Legislature.

"I told them if they come up with a 62-62 tie to call me," he said. "If they need a super-majority vote, I'll be there. I didn't run away and hide."

He also told leaders he didn't want to be paid for the days he missed.

"I turned mine in and said I don't want any pay after Friday when I left," he said.

Collins also won't be seeking re-election to the 110th District seat he now holds.

He said he and his wife, Linda, are retired.

"It's not working out for us," he said.

Instead, he said, Travis Couture-Lovelady, a Republican from Palco, has been recruited to run for the position.

"I hope we get him elected," Collins said.

Couture-Lovelady will, however, face an opponent, Republican Troy L. Waymaster, Luray, in the Aug. 7 primary election.

Collins said he was asked to run to vote on some pro-life and conservative issues, but he's not willing to seek another term.

"There were things I enjoyed and things that dragged on," he said. "I understood how slow government worked. Well, I thought I did.

"It was a very good experience. But I don't care to go through that again."