Legislators recount their opposition to bills in last session

Rep. Melissa Rooker, Sen. Kay Wolf and Rep. Stephanie Clayton at the Chamber breakfast. Rep. Barbara Bollier also spoke.
Rep. Melissa Rooker, Sen. Kay Wolf and Rep. Stephanie Clayton at the Chamber breakfast. Rep. Barbara Bollier also spoke.

State legislators from northeast Johnson County Friday recapped the legislative session and how they were often at odds with lawmakers from other parts of the state.

“Our delegation is very different than most of the legislature,” Sen. Kay Wolf told a crowd attending the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast at the Sylvester Powell Community Center. Wolf talked about how many times she voted ‘no’ during the session and her opposition to the cuts that the budget and tax plan imposed. Everyone thought with the election of so many conservatives that it would be a smooth session, Wolf said, “but that didn’t happen.”

Rep. Barbara Bollier said there was “more political ideology than I expected.” Bollier, a retired physician who has earned a reputation as an expert on healthcare legislation, believes she is qualified to serve on the oversight committee for KanCare, the state’s new managed care system for Medicaid. “I am not confident that will happen. Politics is always at work, not what is better for people,” she said. It is ironic we (the state) are fighting federal rules, but won’t use our own state system for an insurance exchange required under the Affordable Care Act, she said.

Rep. Melissa Rooker recounted the efforts to kill the Common Core standards for public schools. Common Core was adopted in 2010, Rooker said, and schools have been preparing for its implementation for three years. Four attempts to block Common Core were defeated this year in the legislature. Rooker said she is involved in efforts to educate parents around the state about Common Core, which is a set of standards states have agreed upon rather than a dictated curriculum. “There is no good reason on earth not to have the same standards,” she said.

On issues affecting local business, Rep. Stephanie Clayton said she “is concerned that we will go down a road to a tax on professional services.” Johnson County is the business engine of the state, Clayton said, and we have a service-based economy here.

Both U.S. senators from Kansas and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder sent members of their staffs to the breakfast.