Hello from Topeka. We are in the final two weeks before first adjournment and this week we will be on the floor of the House each day for all day to consider bills for passage or defeat. Last Monday, the Kansas House recognized March 19 as Celebrating Women in Public Office Day. The recognition coincides with Women’s History Month being celebrated in March. The resolution notes women are underrepresented in male-dominated fields and providing opportunities to support women in public office is imperative. This resolution serves to inspire other women to serve in their communities. In case you didn’t know: Kansas was among the first states to give women the right to vote when it passed a state constitutional amendment in 1912, eight years before ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Since that time, statewide, Kansas has had one woman Secretary of State — Elwill Shanahan (1966 to 1978); three women State Treasurers – Joan Finney (1975 to 1991), Sally Thompson (1991 to 1995), and Lynn Jenkins (2003 to 2009); two women Governors – Joan Finney (1991 to 1995) and Kathleen Sebelius (2003 to 2009); one woman Lt. Governor – Sheila Frahm (1991 to 1998); one woman Attorney General – Carla Stovall (1995 to 2003); and two women Insurance Commissioners — Kathleen Sebelius (1995 to 2003) and Sandy Praeger (2003 to 2015). In addition, only 203 women have served in the Kansas Legislature/House, including only eight women of color. Six African American women, (Verdis Robinson, Ruby Gilbert, Barbara Ballard, Valdenia Winn, Oletha Faust-Goudeau and Gail Finney), one Latin American (Delia Garcia) and one Native American (Ponka-We Victors).
There currently are 32 ladies now serving in the House and 15 in the Senate. A few of those special barrier breaking women include: Susan Wagle, the first woman to be elected speaker pro-tem and the first woman elected as senate president. Barbara Ballard, the first African-American woman elected to the Kansas House without having been appointed first; and Ponka-We Victors, the first Native American woman elected to the House. We also would like to take this time to recognize the three women currently serving as House Committee Chairs — Erin Davis, children and seniors and also Joint Committee on Special Claims Against the State; Kristey Williams, local government; and Brenda Landwehr, social services budget.
Also, if you are looking for more information about your local school, the Kansas State Department of Education provides USD report cards both at the district and the building level. The website provides: accountability and assessment data; performance indicators (graduation rate, attendance rate, dropouts); teacher quality; demographics; and other data measurements (NAEP scores, ACT scores, District IDEA plan, archived Report Cards). In addition, short videos about the State Board of Education’s Goals and Outcomes can be viewed. The website is: http://ksreportcard.ksde.org/
House republicans got their first look at this year’s spending bill Wednesday as Rep. Troy Waymaster and J.G. Scott presented the budget shorthand list for Sub. for HB 2468. The bill reflects revisions to the FY 2018 and FY 2019 budgets. The Appropriations Committee has been considering Budget Committee recommendations since early February. It will be discussed and debated in the coming days.
Some of the floor action to highlight includes:
• HB625 — Establishing confidentiality of records contained in the central registry of all Kansas police officers and law enforcement officers. This bill would specify which records must be maintained in the central registry of all Kansas police officers and law enforcement officers, and under what circumstances certain records may be disclosed and to whom they may be disclosed.
• HB 2103— Requiring insurance coverage for amino acid-based elemental formula in the state health care benefits program and requiring the state employees health care commission to submit a report to the legislature. This bill would commission a study concerning the coverage of amino acids formula for treatment of Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES), Eosinophilic Disorder or Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS).
I carried SB 375 on the floor, it is a bill relating to the maximum length of certain vehicle combinations. This bill would add specified exemptions to limits on vehicle weights and lengths, it keeps us in compliance with federal law.
There still are a couple of gun bills going back and forth between the house and senate, and at the time of writing this column, nothing has been finalized.
A couple of other things I thought you might find of interest, SB 324 was passed out, as it would prohibit a manufacturer from requiring a vehicle dealer to construct improvements to facilities or install new signs that replace signs completed within the past ten years that were required and approved by the manufacturer. It looks like we will have a couple of more parks added to the state park system, the Flint Hills trail and Little Jerusalem Badlands, once the bill is signed by the Governor.
More discussion will take place on the K-12 Education Budget this week. It looks like a vote will take place on a new plan or at least what the legislature will be sending to the State Supreme Court in response to the unconstitutional ruling after Easter.
Ken Rahjes, R-Agra, represents the 110th District in the Kansas House.