Local legislators predict eventful year to NEJC Chamber members

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder (from left), Kansas Sen. Kay Wolf, and Kansas Reps. Melissa Rooker, Barbara Bollier and Stephanie Clayton at the NEJC Chamber's legislative breakfast Friday.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder (from left), Kansas Sen. Kay Wolf, and Kansas Reps. Melissa Rooker, Barbara Bollier and Stephanie Clayton at the NEJC Chamber’s legislative breakfast Friday.

When the Kansas Legislature convenes in 2013, it could be a memorable session for Kansas and for Johnson County. A potential revenue crisis, an unusual number of new legislators, a conservative leadership and a precarious position for local education all point to an eventful year.

Each of those points was touched on at the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast that featured the state representatives and senator who will represent our area.
“We have to come up with money somewhere,” Senator Kay Wolf said. “I have met him (the governor) many times.” He realizes the crisis we are in, she added.

Wolf will not vote to extend a portion of the state sales tax, calling it an issue of credibility. “I voted for it with the understanding it would expire in July. I think it is going to be a difficult two years.”

State Representative Barbara Bollier called the committee leadership assignments “disappointing,” saying that legislators who voted for the one-cent sales tax three years ago were “shut out” and suffered for that vote because “we wanted to avoid our own fiscal cliff.” Both Bollier and new representative Melissa Rooker noted that their districts were not solid Republican — Rooker’s because of her narrow victory over Democrat Megan England and Bollier’s because her district went for Obama. Both said they need to think about representing those diverse philosophies.

“My focus has always been on education,” Rooker said. Her first choice is for a spot on the education committee when assignments are made.

“One of the things most important to me is doing right by more local organizations,” Rep. Stephanie Clayton said. She also focused remarks on helping startup businesses. “This economy has been hard on young people coming our of college.” She is working to nurture the startup community and to use education as a way to grow local economies and as a point of common ground with rural communities. “I see our educational system as an economic development tool,” she said.
Congressman Kevin Yoder also addressed the group on the negotiations to address the federal “fiscal cliff.” Prairie Village City Councilor Dale Warman moderated the session.