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OPINION

From the dome to the home

Rep. Troy Waymaster, 109th House District

Rural Hospital Innovation Grant Fund

When Governor Laura Kelly introduced her budget to the Legislature in early January, she indicated that she would have two Executive Reorganization orders (ERO).  An ERO is a reorganization of departments or agencies made by the Governor that must be approved or disapproved by the legislature.  The Governor did have two EROs last legislative session, both of which were disapproved by House of Representatives.

ERO 47 renames the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and combines it with the Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS).  The new state agency would be the Department of Human Services (DHS).  This ERO is very similar to the ERO that was submitted to the Legislature last year, although, in last year’s ERO it also included the aspects of juvenile justice.  However, this year the Governor did not include combining juvenile justice into DHS.

The Social Services Budget Committee had hearings on the ERO and then made the recommendation to the Appropriations Committee to once again disapprove the merger of the two agencies.  The Appropriations Committee accepted the recommendation from the budget committee and now it awaits debate on the House floor.

There is a second ERO which would transfer Tourism from the Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism to the Department of Commerce.  This ERO was heard in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee and their recommendation is to have it approved by the House.

Power Grid

Earlier this week, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which Kansas is part of, asked electric utilities to implement controlled and temporary emergency electricity reductions due to the extremely frigid temperatures we were experiencing.  Across the state of Kansas, there were scheduled and planned rolling blackouts to prevent a larger uncontrolled and extended power outage.  In some parts of the state, some utility companies began turning off electricity to blocks of their customers for approximately 30-60 minutes.  Once the power was restored, then other outages rotated to other areas of the utility’s service area.  They conducted these rolling blackouts throughout Monday afternoon and evening.  After the blackouts, the strain on the power grid subsided and maintained and the SPP stated that there would not be any need for anymore scheduled rolling blackouts.

Bills Passed the House

On Wednesday, February 17, the Kansas House of Representatives debated and voted on eleven bills, passing all of those bills to the Kansas State Senate.

One of those bills that we debated and voted on is House Bill 2187, which would enact the first-time Home Buyer Act and would establish changes to the Kansas adjusted gross income of an individual for contributions to a first-time home buyer savings account.  This will also allow for an individual to open first-time home buyer savings accounts to save for the purchase or construction of a home in the state of Kansas.  This bill passed out of the House with a vote of 119-3.

On Thursday, we held debate on five additional bills.  One of those bills was House Bill 2125 which would allow a copy of a will to be filed and admitted to probate.  The bill also states the allowance of a will or copy of a will can be filed within six months after the death of the testator to be admitted to probate at any time. Current law was also amended to reflect that a copy of a decedent’s will may be filed with the district court in the county where the decedent last resided.  This bill passed out of the House on Thursday with a vote of 118-3.  I voted “yes.”

Listen to hearings

Anytime that one would like to participate and listen to the developments of committee hearings or discussion on the House floor, one can tune in by listening to the audio footage at www.kslegislature.org.

As always, if you have any concerns, feel free to contact me (785) 296-7672, follow on twitter at @waymaster4house, or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov.

Troy Waymaster is the representative for the 109th Kansas House District.