Capitol Update: Sen. Bollier says it’s important to listen to local government during COVID-19

Sen. Barbara Bollier says local leaders "know what needs to happen to help the people who live there." File photo. 

Each legislative session, we provide Shawnee Mission area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Brett Parker, Sen. Barbara Bollier and Rep. Brandon Woodard are scheduled to send updates this week. Sen. Bollier’s column is below.

In difficult times, we look towards our leaders for guidance and for support. That has never been more true than during our current situation.

I’ve been heartened to see Governor Laura Kelly, Dr. Lee Norman and others work tirelessly to advocate for Kansans and make sure we are getting the help we need. They have been instrumental in keeping our state safe and helping families who are dealing with the fallout from this painful period in time, especially during a time in which we are desperately looking to the federal government for a substantial response to this crisis.

And as we start to open up parts of our economy, it’s important that we continue to listen to medical professionals who are giving important advice that we should all follow to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe. I’m a doctor, so I’ll always tell it as it is: wash your hands, keep social distancing, and follow the advice of the CDC.

But there is another critical area where help is being offered, and which in turn needs our support: local government. What’s best for large metropolitan areas might not be what is best for more rural communities. So it is also important to listen to the leaders in local communities who know their areas best, and who know what needs to happen to help the people who live there.

That is why I have always fought for local control and will always support our local governments. I want to make sure that those officials — who are closest to the people they represent — have the resources they need in order to protect and help their communities.

This isn’t just about a response to our current crisis — because a virus doesn’t respect city limits. We need to bolster leaders who know in detail the challenges their communities are facing with anything from schools, to local hospitals, to small businesses and more.

These officials are creative problem-solvers, who look for economic and innovative ways to deal with problems that arise in their cities and towns. They are the ones to take on these issues head-on. We need to make sure they have what they need to be successful in their jobs.

That’s why as a representative and now as a senator here in Kansas, I have always made it a point to listen to our local leaders and hear about issues impacting their constituents. It’s made me a more effective legislator, and someone in a better position to help our local communities. I know that we need to make sure we are listening to the specific needs of those in Dodge City, Lecompton, and Olathe — because every community across our state faces very different challenges.

I am proud of our local leaders for stepping up during this crisis, and I promise to continue listening and using my own voice to help address the problems you face. Thank you for your public service now, and always.