Capitol Update: ‘Here comes the sun,’ says incoming Sen. Barbara Bollier

Sen. Barbara Bollier.
Sen. Barbara Bollier.

Each legislative session, we provide northeast Johnson County’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Incoming Sen. Barbara Bollier submits the first update of 2017:

Greetings for the 2017 Kansas Legislative Session! After this year’s election results, I have chosen a theme song for the year from the Beatles:

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

Governor Brownback has lost his majority control of the legislature, and his mantra about the sun shining in Kansas was just not true. But here comes the sun!

My new committee assignments in the Senate include Vice-chair of Health and Human Services, Education, and Commerce. I am quite excited to get started to work. The general attitude of the legislators is a positive one, with great hopes for turning around the fiscal fiasco we find ourselves in. There is no doubt that truly difficult decisions lie ahead of us, but with so many new legislators who want to fix the problems, I see slow but steady relief in sight.

The first challenge to be faced is the $350 million deficit for this year. Although some cuts may be made, there is a one time “pot of gold” that might work to fill the hole. This money could come from the Unclaimed Property Fund but would require legislative action to access it. After plugging that hole, we are still faced with millions of dollars of anticipated deficit for this next budget cycle, so increasing our revenues must be part of legislative action this session. My hope is that every tax is put on the table, reviewed, then a plan put forward for the best solution for all of Kansas. Compromise and trade-offs will be essential. Although some are saying that the LLC tax break will be eliminated immediately, many legislators including me want only one tax vote and may push the leadership to wait until later in the session for a total tax package to move forward.

I am going to skip the school funding issue and let one of my other legislative colleagues address it in a future Shawnee Mission Post article. Instead, I want you to know some other key issues that I will be working on this session. Medicaid expansion will still need to be discussed in spite of the possible repeal of Obamacare. If block grants are put in place for Medicaid, we do not want to find ourselves at the bottom for future funding if it is based on current federal dollars given. My anti-gun violence work will center on two bills, one which will eliminate required concealed carry in state facilities, including campuses. Additionally, I will again introduce a Gun Violence Restraining Order bill to help in the arena of domestic violence and suicide. Be clear, my support continues of the Second Amendment and follows the Supreme Court decision that states, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…” It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

It is a pleasure and a privilege to serve. You can always reach me by e-mail at Barbara.bollier@senate.ks.gov or barbarabollier@gmail.com. My new office phone is 785-296-7390 and my assistant is Greg Davis. Also, follow my Facebook page where I post articles about what is happening in Topeka. Feel free to contact me about issues or problems.