NEJC Capitol Update: ‘Kansas is a state with many differences in ideology, but I think we can all agree that the stewards of our tax dollars should operate in the sunlight’

To keep our readers better informed about the state government actions that impact our communities, we will be featuring regular update columns each Monday from northeast Johnson County’s elected officials: Rep. Barbara Bollier, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Jarrod Ousley, Rep. Melissa Rooker and Sen. Kay Wolf. Rep. Clayton submits this week’s update on the first day of the 2015 legislative session:

Today, the Kansas Legislative Session begins. Not much will take place this first week, aside from the delivery of the State of the State address by the Governor on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. (You can watch on your local PBS station, or listen to it live at kslegislature.org). During this address, the legislature will get a good idea as to what the governor would like to accomplish during the 2015 session. I will be part of a panel of legislators discussing the address on Up to Date on 89.3 KCUR this Friday, Jan. 16.

Stephanie Clayton 2014These suggestions from the Executive Branch are merely that — suggestions. The legislature has a primary function — appropriating funds — and so we often begin with the Governor’s budgetary proposals (which we will receive Friday, Jan. 16) and continue from there. But before we begin our work on the budget, we must first determine what our rules for conduct are.

At the beginning of each term, the House votes on our Rules. I anticipate some amendments to be brought to our House Rules, and while I am not the author of them, I emphatically support them. The rules, and any additions/amendments to the rules need 63 votes to pass. I’ll explain two of them below:

Affectionately termed the “Nothing Good Happens After Midnight” rule, this new rule would make the House adjourn no later than midnight, and convene no earlier than eight hours later. Some of you may remember that last year, the legislature was kept late into the night for several nights in a row. This led to a piece of legislation that was crafted at 4 a.m. with little notice to the public. This change in the rules would decrease the likelihood of something like this happening again.

The next rule proposal is an anti-bundling rule. “Bundling” is when several bills are wrapped together into one bill. It is a tactic that is employed when one bill is so onerous that it could not pass on its own, so it is combined with several other good bills, thus forcing many legislators to vote for bad legislation in order to save the good. A bill worth passing should be able to stand on its own.

You, the Kansas Taxpayer, are essentially forced to invest in your state through the taxes that are collected from you. You deserve good government, a government that operates in the daytime, without nefarious tactics, and with clear and thorough communication. Kansas is a state with many differences in ideology, but I think we can all agree that the stewards of our tax dollars should operate in the sunlight.

I enjoy communicating with constituents. Please “like” my official FB page, follow me on twitter @sscjocoks, e-mail me at stephaniesawyerclayton@gmail.com to sign up for my newsletter, or attend my monthly forums at Foo’s Leawood the third Saturday of the month (January-May) at 10 am.