To keep our readers better informed about the state government actions that impact our communities, we feature an update columns each Monday from one of 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:
Deadlines are looming in the Kansas Legislature, and we are moving at a frenetic pace in our House committees to finish our work so that we can get our business to the House Floor, vote the bills out, and send them over to the Senate so they can be reviewed.
In Social Services Budget committee, I had the opportunity as a legislator to call for a Post Audit of the KEES computer program, which is designed to streamline the eligibility system for State Benefits. The KEES system has been delayed from going “live” for years, and I consider this to be a big problem. It is my hope that the audit will reveal why this is happening, and lead to a quick resolution so that Kansas is able to more efficiently deliver services to vulnerable citizens.
My chief legislative project, the Transparency Act, had a hearing in a House committee and a Senate committee. As many of you know, Senator Wolf has been instrumental in getting the bill, designed to live-stream proceedings in select committee rooms, through the Senate. The main roadblock is in the House, although I am optimistic, as the hearings on both sides went very well.
I was intensely displeased to see that our Governor rescinded the protections for LGBT State Employees. I personally believe that LGBT citizens should not be discriminated against, and I also believe that the ill-treatment of such citizens has a disastrous effect on the image of our state. I have friends and family members who are LGBT, but more importantly, I have constituents who are, and it is my job to make sure that all of my constituents are being served well- which obviously includes making sure they aren’t being discriminated against. When the Governor’s executive action was revealed, Kansas became the object of ridicule on The Daily Show. Many of you have heard me say that it is my goal to keep our state off of that show, and while the goal may seem frivolous, that show is a barometer for national perception of our state. Why does what the rest of the country thinks about Kansas matter? Because, if we are seen as backward or hateful, companies will not want to do business here. Organizations will not want to hold their conventions here. People will not want to live here.
All legislators, as well as our Governor, want to see Kansas first grow, and then thrive economically. The problem here is that we have fundamental disagreements as to how we get the state to that endpoint. It has always been my belief that if we have a strong, reasonable, stable and, yes, *friendly* Kansas, then business will grow. I remain committed in my endeavor to make it “nice” here, so that our citizenry and economy can prosper.