Capitol Update: Sen. Skubal says ‘change the rule’, allow online legislative session

Sen. Skubal, a Republican representing the 11th District, which includes parts of Overland Park and Leawood, says he "lobbied to finish the legislative session via teleconference, ZOOM or other electronic means." File photo.

Each week, we provide Shawnee Mission area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Jarrod Ousley, Rep. Owen Donohoe, and Sen. John Skubal are scheduled to send updates this week. (Rep. Donohoe did not respond to our invitation to submit a column).

Below is the submission from Sen. John Skubal, R-11th District.

As I sit down to write this article, I’ve just come in from having coffee on the deck and watching the sun rise. I am reminded of sunrise religious services I attended with my family as a young boy and the simpler world in which we lived. Much has changed! Today we will attend services in our home on our computer or TV.

I must say I miss the personal interaction with friends and colleagues, coffee or lunch with business associates. Groceries and prescriptions are our only excuse for leaving the house. I know, though, that we will get through this pandemic if we follow the medical community’s advice.

As most know, the Legislature is NOT in session and our Republican leadership has had issues with the Governor regarding the gathering of more than ten people at a time. The Kansas Supreme Court held an emergency session last Saturday to hear arguments regarding the assembly of more than ten people at church services. The Court sided with the Governor and the medical community trying to keep us all safe. Respecting the ten person limit will keep this virus from spreading.

The return to Topeka to continue our legislative session remains in doubt. We passed a budget in March and that is all we are constitutionally obligated to do. Much was left undone, however. Most of the legislature felt it was not medically practical to stay in the Capital where we must interact in a close environment. The distance between desks and chairs on the Senate floor is approximately 3-4 feet.

I lobbied to hold the remainder of the session by teleconference, ZOOM or other electronic means. Apparently this is not allowed by rule. I say change the rule!

As I talk with my fellow legislators, none are keen to be called back to Topeka not knowing what could happen and what would come to the floor to debate. Rest assured, if called back, I will pack up and go back to finish the session.

In closing, I hope you had a good Easter and/or Passover. Most of us didn’t celebrate with family around the house and dinner table, but we can still count our blessings. I also want to thank all our first responders for keeping us safe. Please stay home and keep you and yours safe!