Capitol Update: Rep. Parker still hoping for ‘bipartisan bravery’ on big issues facing legislature

Rep. Brett Parker said it’s time for some “bipartisan bravery” on major issues facing the legislature.

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. Brett Parker, Rep. Brandon Woodard and Sen. Pat Pettey are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Parker’s filing:

As the Kansas House spent three hours Tuesday debating a toothless resolution about a law passed in New York, spectators could be forgiven for wondering if we had forgotten about all the pressing needs here in Kansas. After all, those are the issues we were elected to solve.

Despite the stall tactics that have earned the “do nothing” label for conservative House leadership, there is still time to address critical needs in Kansas. Education, foster care, and a prison system in crisis need funding. Access to affordable healthcare needs expanding. And the list goes on.

What is needed after weeks of delay is some bipartisan bravery. Though the leadership of the majority party holds much power to obstruct real education funding and Medicaid expansion, their barriers can be overcome. These common-sense policies are supported by a majority of Kansans and a majority of the Representatives they elected. If public education supporters band together, we can defeat the ugly education cuts being pushed by conservatives and pass the funding that is needed for our schools to thrive. If seventy or more legislators who support expanding Medicaid work together, we can finally have a vote on this life-saving policy.

It won’t be easy. For members of the Republican party there can be serious repercussions for choosing policy over party leadership. Despite the potential for losing committee assignments or being targeted by their own party in the next primary election, Kansas needs these Representatives to show courage. After all, there are worse things than losing a committee assignment or an election. Just ask the 150,000 Kansans being denied affordable healthcare. Ask the students about to graduate from underfunded schools. These Kansans need their Representatives to show the same bravery they did in 2017 when they came together with a bipartisan coalition to repeal the Brownback disaster and put a Medicaid expansion bill on his desk.

The 2019 legislative session can still be remembered as a giant leap forward for education and healthcare, as well as good government. But only if we are brave enough to do what we were elected to do.