Each week during the 2023 Kansas legislative session, we will provide Shawnee area lawmakers with an opportunity to share their thoughts on what is happening in the state capitol.
Below is this week’s presentation by Democratic Rep. Jerry Stogsdill of Kansas House District 21, which covers parts of Prairie Village and Overland Park.
Democratic Rep. Heather Meyer also featured a column this week.
The views expressed in each Capitol Update are those of the legislator only.
It seems that this year’s Kansas legislature, under even more ultra-conservative leadership than in previous years, set off with a resounding “Thud!”
As usual, the banknotes presented can be classified as few good, many bad and some very, very bad!
This year, I’m the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee and the Legislative Modernization Committee. I also serve on the water commission and the tax commission.
These positions gave me a bird’s eye view of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are some examples of all three:
- A historic water bill: The use of water for agricultural purposes and for human consumption is one of the most important issues facing Kansas. We passed a bipartisan water bill last week that provides a path to effectively address this issue. The bill fully funds the state’s water plan, provides a pathway for the use and conservation of the rapidly diminishing aquifer needed for agricultural use, and places emphasis on making sure every Kansas household has clean water adequate clean. We owe many thanks to Republican committee chair Jim Minnix and Democratic ranking member Lindsay Vaughn for spearheading the bipartisan development of this bill.
- No Medicaid Expansion: The Republican leadership still refuses to provide a path for Medicaid expansion to pass. Failure to pass this legislation has cost Kansas billions of our federal tax dollars that go to other states to help deliver health care to their citizens, jeopardized the closure of many of our hospitals, and cost Kansas thousands of jobs. well-paid healthcare jobs.
- No immediate tax break on the sale of food: Since last July, Kansanians have paid millions of dollars in unnecessary food sales taxes because Republicans wouldn’t give Gov. Laura Kelly a win before the November election. The Democratic plan was to completely eliminate the state food sales tax starting last July. Republicans, however, have approved a three-year plan that will cost Kansas millions. Democrats are pushing for the state’s food sales tax to be eliminated this spring. So far, there has been no Republican interest in eliminating this unnecessary tax now.
- Kansas Family Exchange: Most of the bills we’re seeing in the tax committee are, again, in favor of wealthier Kansans and multinational corporations. Meanwhile, the needs of most of the Kansan workers and their families are being put on the back burner.
Also this year, the hateful and the bigots “Equity in the Women’s Sports Bill” reared its ugly head. The business community, religious community, and educational community strongly oppose this bill.
Supporters of this bill say “men’s” are having a widespread and dire effect on women’s sports in our public schools. Not true! According to the Kansas High School Activities Association, there are only 11 transgender students enrolled to play sports out of over 92,000 student athletes (0.0001%)! They also assured me that they have not had any complaints about any transgender students and have not seen a single incident where a transgender student impacted a sport or even a single athletic event.
This bill places a target in the back of some of our most vulnerable students and is designed and offered only as an appeal to the most extreme elements of the Republican Party.
There are too many bills and issues to deal with in this space so if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at [email protected]. You can also follow all these issues at kslegislature.org.
Hope is still eternal for a more productive and bipartisan session as we move forward this year.