It wasn’t all just taxes and budgets at the Kansas Legislature this year. Other issues affected us in northeast Johnson County as well. In a final look at what happened in Topeka, we round up odds and ends from our legislators.
For Rep. Barbara Bollier, one of the positive notes of the session was the legislature’s refusal to not bring forward the constitutional amendment to change the way Kansas Supreme Court justices are named. A move had been afoot to give the governor more control of appointment with senate approval. It did not make it out of the session.
The legislature passed a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Clayton that eliminated the statute of limitations on rape. “That is something that I can be proud of,” Clayton said. However, there were negatives besides tax and budget. “We don’t like the federal government telling us what to do, but we don’t mind telling local government what to do,” she said, and that was a general theme of the session.
Rep. Melissa Rooker gained a reputation as a freshman who made a difference on the education committee, but she expects the next session to revisit many of the same battles on charter schools, scholarships for private schools and Common Core standards challenges. The education committee had several 10-9 votes, Rooker pointed out. She said it was disappointing the legislature “spent a lot of time monkeying around with social issues” that likely will lead to court challenges.
Sen. Kay Wolf cast more ‘no’ votes this year than any other of her eight years in the legislature. Despite being constantly in the minority, she said her fellow senators were “inclusive” of her. Sen. Susan Wagle did a good job of leading the senate, Wolf said, and being forthright and inclusive. The impasses between the house and senate made it a difficult year. But with an election in 2014, the next session may not be as controversial, Wolf said.