Northeast Johnson County Reps. Barbara Bollier and Stephanie Clayton participated in the third legislative forum hosted by the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce at Prairie Village City Hall Tuesday, and it was no surprise which topics were at the front of both the speakers’ and the audience’s minds.
Education finance and firearms regulations dominated the hour-long back-and-forth, with both representatives expressing dismay at the way in which the final education finance bill came to pass. Of particular concern, they said, was the fact that the full text of the version of the bill that the House voted on last week wasn’t made available until Monday.
“My big question is why our colleagues would vote for something they couldn’t have read,” Bollier said.
Clayton likened the process that produced the vote on the education bill that that which surrounded the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. “We all remember when Speaker Pelosi famously said something like, ‘Vote for it, then read it.’ That was very much the case with this last bill.”
Bollier commented at length on the legislation that would supersede Prairie Village’s ban on openly carried weapons.
“I believe in the right to own a weapon,” she said. “But I’m not looking forward to seeing guns at the Hen House, and that’s where we are headed.”
Other topics of note included:
- School vouchers. Asked by an audience member about her stance on vouchers, Clayton took a strong stand against the idea. She told the audience that when she first had children, she had considered sending her kids to private high schools. “I thought of Pembroke, Sion, Rockhurst and Barstow. Where are all of those schools? I’m not sending Kansas tax dollars to Missouri and you can’t make me.” She also challenged the idea that school vouchers would provide parents “choice.” “I’m a parent, and I do have a choice. It’s called saving my own money and not expecting the government to send my kid to Pembroke.”
- House makeup. Clayton and Bollier took opposing views on a question about what arrangement would make the Kansas House most effective. Bollier said she wished representatives served longer terms and that there were fewer members. “To be up for election every two years, you’re running constantly,” she said. Bollier said that reducing the number of districts would allow better pay for representatives that would encourage a broader array of people to run for office. “My husband has a good job, and, essentially, he pays my way. But the $88 a day we get is not enough to cover housing and everything else [in Topeka]. I’d like to see it be easier for people of different socioeconomic levels run for office. Even if that means I’m not one who returns.” Clayton said she thought the current House makeup was effective. “I like having a smaller district that I’m able to walk,” she said.