Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Melissa Rooker, Rep. Tom Cox and Sen. John Skubal are submitting updates this week. Here’s Rep. Cox’s filing:
The most common question I get as a legislator is “what are you working on?” But before I answer that question here is a quick update where we are in session.
Turnaround is here! This means we have reached the middle of our legislative session. Both the House and the Senate spent last week on the floor all week working and voting on bills passed by committees. The house voted on roughly 60 bills this week, ranging from topics as changing filing forms for agriculture to creating a telemedicine law that will greatly improve rural access to medicine.
So what happens to the bills passed? They switch chambers and start the hearing process all over again. House bills will go to the Senate committees and Senate bills to the House committees. This ensures all bills are thoroughly vetted and heard. Bills that pass both chambers then move onto the Governor’s desk.
So what have I been working on specifically? All legislators sit on committees and help with the process, all are working on solutions on the big issues, but many take on specific smaller projects and ideas. I have been working on a few such projects.
Dyslexia education reform
With the help of parent’s advocate group Dyslexia JoCo it came to light that Kansas is one of only 8 states that doesn’t properly address dyslexia in our education system. We do not screen for it, we do not teach reading specialists or teachers how to teach students with it and we treat students with it like any other reading disorder when it is a very different and specific one.
The House last week passed legislation to form a Dyslexia Task Force comprising of legislators, education experts, dyslexia experts and parent advocates to specifically look into our state’s policies, screening and training. The goal is to determine how best to identify students with dyslexia and then how to best educate them. This is the first step to joining the 42 other states is properly addressing dyslexia and helping our students with it.
Protecting victims of domestic abuse
The house passed two bills to help further protect victims of domestic abuse and stalking. The first makes it easier for police officers to remove the guns from domestic abusers and stalkers while they are awaiting trial. Much of the credit on helping pass this through the House goes to Mom’s Demand Action who have tirelessly advocated for years to get this reformed passed.
The second piece I was honored to work on with the Attorney General’s office, AT&T, and Kansas Coalition of Against Sexual Violence to help pass HB 2524. It allows victims of abuse and stalking a legal mechanism to remove themselves & children from cell phone plans when they are not the account holder and protect their information from the abusers moving forward. Often abusers use their status as the account holder to manipulate, track, and further abuse their victims.
I would love to hear from and engage with you during the session. Please email me at [email protected], or follow me on Twitter/Facebook @tomcox4ks. For more frequent updates, please subscribe to my e-newsletter, the Cox Chronicle, by emailing me.