Capitol Update: Legislative session begins, House reaction to school finance ruling

In an effort to keep our readers’ better informed about the state government actions that impact our communities, we’ll be featuring regular update columns from northeast Johnson County’s elected officials in the legislature: Rep. Barbara Bollier, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Melissa Rooker and Sen. Kay Wolf. Check back on Mondays to find out what’s been happening the past week in Topeka.

Dr. Barbara Bollier


Greetings from Topeka! It is great to have the opportunity to share updates from the Legislature along with my colleagues Rep. Melissa Rooker, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, and Sen. Kay Wolf. We are all pleased to be serving you in Topeka and hope to keep you more informed this session via PV Post with regular update posts.The Kansas Legislature gaveled in Monday, Jan. 14 with 57 new members in the House and 21 new Senators. Gov. Sam Brownback presented his State of the State address Tuesday evening, and by Wednesday we were given his 2014 budget for the state. Committee meetings have commenced: I have been assigned to Health and Human Services, Children and Seniors, and Insurance. Most committees started the week with orientation and introductions. In my committees we also heard updates on KanCare (the new Medicaid program) and presentations on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on Kansas.

There are no bills before the House yet, but House leadership stands in opposition to the recent court ruling from Gannon vs. Kansas regarding school funding. The court found the state legislature in violation of its constitutional duty to provide suitable funding for Kansas public schools. The ruling orders funding levels at $4,492 per pupil, about $600 higher per pupil than present funding levels. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has filed an appeal.

I have always supported funding for our schools and do not agree with others in the legislature who want to decrease appropriations for our schools. If you want more information about this issue, I encourage you to check the Shawnee Mission Area Council PTA website.