Capitol Update: ‘We can no longer live in denial; the state of our state is eroding’

Rep. Barbara Bollier.
Rep. Barbara Bollier.

The 2016 legislative session is under way in Topeka, and throughout the session we’ll be bringing you a weekly update 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 — about what they’re working on in Topeka. Rep. Bollier submits this week’s update:

This past week the most important news out of Topeka was the failure of House Constitutional Resolution 5005 to pass. Changing Kansas’ selection process for Supreme Court Justices was one of Governor Brownback’s top priorities. To bring about such a Constitutional change required 84 votes in the House (a two-thirds majority) to pass. The final vote was 68-54 with all northeast Johnson County Representatives voting NO. Kansas will continue to select our justices using the “Missouri Plan.” A panel of lawyers (four elected by lawyers from each Congressional District, four appointed by the Governor, and the chair elected by the approximately 5,000 lawyers in Kansas) review all nominees (all names known to the public) and select three candidates. The Governor then chooses a Supreme Court Justice from those three names after public hearings.

This Tuesday the House will be debating an updated budget. The bill has critical problems yet also tries to effectively address some crucial issues with the Governor’s budget. Stay tuned to PVPost for results of this debate.

As the session proceeds, we can no longer live in denial; the state of our state is eroding. Missed revenue estimates, borrowing millions of dollars to fund the budget, refusal of leadership to follow the will of the people are but a few examples of the failures before us in Kansas. In spite of the rhetoric claiming that all is well, the evidence clearly points to the contrary. As an elected member of your legislature, my concern grows by the day. The number one question I am asked is, “What can I do to help?”

This past week a bill was heard in Education committee that called for extreme consolidation of Kansas K-12 school districts. The chairman of the committee received more than 600 e-mails AGAINST this bill and then STOPPED the bill due to this outcry. IT MATTERS that you contact your legislators and the committee chairs as evidenced by his response; participating in the process is something you can do! To find contact information for your Senator or Representative, use kslegislature.org. You can click on the icon “Find your legislator” followed by “Search by your address” if needed.

Contact the Speaker of the House, Ray Merrick, and the Senate President, Susan Wagle. Those two control every single bill and whether a bill is worked in committee or not. If you want something to change, go to the leaders who pull the strings!

Stay informed! Subscribe to your legislator’s e-newsletter. For me, in addition to a newsletter, I use a Representative Barbara Bollier Facebook page where I post articles daily from multiple sources to help Kansans follow legislative news. Organizations such as the Kansas Association of School Boards publish regular newsletters. Your Prairie Village legislators write for shawneemissionpost.com every Monday morning. With so much at stake, information is critical!

Plan to vote in the Aug. 2 Primary! Of course, be registered to vote, but also understand the rules of primary voting in Kansas. The Democratic Party allows unaffiliated voters to vote in their primary. The Republican Party allows only voters registered with their party. Unaffiliated voters can choose to affiliate with a party on election day. Current law states that you can only change your party affiliation up to 21 days before an election.

I remain hopeful. Every day is an opportunity for me to try to make your Kansas the best it can be. Thank you for allowing me to serve.