Capitol Update: Sen. John Skubal has ‘fingers crossed’ on plan for future of Kansas transportation needs

Sen. John Skubal (in blue).

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 Sen. Skubal’s filing:

February 22 marked “Turnaround” in the legislative body. Only bills heard to either House or Senate can now be worked unless brought before a none exempt committee. We are at the halfway point of the session and both House and Senate are working on budget. Last year we passed two budgets, 16-17 and 18-19, so we are currently fine tuning this year’s budget. As most know, we are working to find a solution to the school funding case in which the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that we are underfunding our schools. At this point, we have no idea what the amount will be to satisfy the Court. Leadership has hired a consultant to help present our case and a briefing on this was presented last week. A full report will be presented on March 15. The report will allow the attorneys to start work on our response. Stay tuned for news coverage on this important topic.

I carried Senate Bill 285, a transportation bill, to the Ways & Means Committee. The bill passed the Senate and is now in the House for a hearing. Please contact your House member to vote “Yes” to further progress this bill. The bill will initiate work on the next transportation plan for the State. In lay terms, a committee will be appointed by the House and Senate and a number of stakeholder groups. The committee will be comprised of 30-35 people. Consults will be held state-wide in all six KDOT districts and the two large metro areas. The committee will be charged with looking at needs of transportation from roads to airports, rail and how to deal with the coming of driverless vehicles. The public will be an important part of the process. I have requested an appointment to serve on this important committee to move our State forward. I hope Leadership sees fit to allow me to participate as I also work in the industry. My fingers are crossed.

This past week the Senate debated 34 bills and now we have a few days off so the legislative staff can complete the paperwork to include the final updates. Next week we return to committee to work the bills sent to the Senate from the House.

SB 328 is an important bill that will require Legislative approval to privatize security operations in our correctional facilities. I agree strongly with this bill.

We have much more to accomplish before the session ends. Please remember I represent Kansas. If you have a question or need help, don’t hesitate to email or call. During session I receive 50-100 emails daily and many more if hot topics arise. We do our best to answer all correspondence with the exception of canned remarks from large interest groups.