Kansas House candidates on the issues: Addressing climate change

Photo credit Reyner Media. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for seats in the Kansas House of Representatives.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item five:

Climate change continues to be a major concern for Shawnee Mission Post readers. What steps should the government be taking now to address the impact of the changing climate in the coming decades? How would you work to see those steps enacted?

Kansas House District 14

Charlotte Esau (incumbent Republican)

I have walked our district many times over the years and know we folks who have older homes that are in need of upgrades or repairs in order to reduce their utility costs. If we focus on expensive mandates on utility companies, those costs just get passed on to the consumer. How many of us have worked hard to lower our use of electricity only to see our bills continue to climb higher year after year? There must be balance in our policies that don’t hurt those with the least to spare in their budgets. Perhaps we should offer incentives to help them pay for upgrades to their home, such as windows that don’t leak or additional insulation in the home. We all want clean air, clean water, and low bills to pay for it. Finding that balance between a better environment and affordability must be taken into account with any state efforts to reduce any negative impact on the environment.

Angela Schweller (Democrat)

As a state representative, I will not have a say in the federal government’s actions on climate change. However, I do hope there is an opportunity for collaborating with all levels of government to come up with solutions, as I know this is a pressing issue important to many in our area. I look forward to working together with groups such as Sierra Club and the group, Climate Action KC, who are doing the research and coming up with plans that can be implemented at the state and local levels. Kansas has the ability to lead in wind and solar power, we must continue to invest in it and work towards a 21st-century energy system.

Kansas House District 16

Linda Featherston (Democrat)

Climate change is certainly a serious issue that concerns me. We need to address climate change in order to protect our farm-based economy and guarantee healthy living for future generations. I would like to see the legislature incentivize clean energy on both the individual level and business level. I know from personal experience that incentives work: my lifelong Republican father put solar panels on our home when I was a child because Jimmy Carter gave him a tax break. My parents have always been active composters and recyclers, but this tax break is what made owning solar panels economically feasible for our family. On the corporate level, I’d like to see businesses rewarded for using green building technologies and power sources. Not only will this help the environment, it will help generate new industry by increasing demand here in Johnson County and beyond.

On the rural level, expanded wind energy production would be good for farmers, rural communities, and consumers. The addition of wind farming will help our family farms diversify and gain additional sources of income. Wind production generates new jobs in our rural communities, which helps both maintain the rural population as well as draw new people into rural communities. Increased wind energy production reduces costs for consumers across the state. Expanded wind energy production is truly a great resource for all Kansans.

Rashard Young (Republican)

Did not respond.

Kansas House District 17

Michael Kerner (Libertarian)

The models being used to convince us that the global climate is warming dangerously have been shown to be false over decades of testing versus reality. Based on those models, Al Gore told us in 1989 that the ice caps would be gone by 2000. Then later, they would be gone my 2013. Those models today are telling us the Earth should be three degrees warmer than it is. All that tells us is that the models are invalid.

Based on some hacked e-mails among two groups of “climate scientists” in 2009, we know that the whole affair is an intentional fraud. Before that revelation, warming was generally believed. Both Republicans and Democrats were offering competing “cap and trade” plans. During 2009, a cap and trade bill passed the House and was waiting its turn in the Senate. The release of those e-mails quietly killed it. I was naive enough to think that was the end of that fraud. But no, 3 years later it started all over again.
Such is the memory of Americans.

The Earth has seen a warming and cooling in a cycle for all recorded history, long before fossil fuels were ever used. It is probably driven by changes in the Sun and therefore beyond our ability to influence. The process is measured in centuries, so we will have no trouble adapting as it happens.

So, to specifically answer the question, there is nothing that needs doing.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities; can make you commit atrocities.” (Voltaire)

Kristine Sapp (Republican)

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid recycler and I care deeply about protecting and preserving our amazing environment. I believe we can do so much more to help encourage Kansans to be better stewards by seeking out sustainability, continue investing in alternative energy programs, promoting recycling and implementing reasonable environmental reforms. Renewable energy, wind and solar are very intriguing but I understand these are not perfect options yet either. Changing the way we look at energy and waste will reduce our carbon footprint and help us all be better stewards of our state.  Regardless of the debate about climate change being real or not, the right thing to do is keep our air, waters and lands clean and to limit the use of nonrenewable resources.  I really look forward to hearing all view points on this issue from constituents, environmental specialists and other legislators.

Jo Ella Hoye (Democrat)

Industry and agriculture provide livelihood for our state and bolster the Kansas economy. They provide jobs for our citizens and food for our tables. Corporations and individuals operating in these fields need to conduct their businesses in a way that’s protective of human health and the environment. One-size-fits-all regulation won’t work. I believe that industries have an inherent responsibility to be stewards of the environment and to have a seat at the table to find solutions to the climate crisis. We must work together to protect our air and water resources by leveraging technologies and implementing industry-specific best practices. Kansas should invest in biotechnology, infrastructure, wind and solar energy, (wind is really helping us transition to renewable energy, and Kansas should keep showing leadership here), and also transportation alternatives.

Kansas House District 18

Cathy Gordon (Republican)

God gave us the right and ability to care for our property, community, land, to be eco-friendly. God gave us the ability to be responsible citizens. Responsibility starts with each citizen.

I would encourage everyone to understand, your “carbon footprint.” Basically, understanding your carbon footprint brings personal awareness step of how eco-friendly you are. It allows a more conscious review of our environment, and how each person can contribute to a better environment. We need to be informed accurately so we can make responsible decisions for our home and community. Here is a link to understanding your carbon footprint from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Cindy Neighbor (incumbent Democrat)

We have seen nationally what climate change has done this year. From wildfires to increased activity with hurricanes, we have seen the devastation. Many of the states have been hit multiple times which has caused billions of dollars in damage. In Kansas, we have had hotter and dryer summers which is a concern with water availability. Best practices in water conservation is a priority for the future of our farmers and rural communities. Our use of wind energy and alternative energy must continue to grow, as we work to provide clean energy for the future.

Kansas House District 20

Jane Dirks (Republican)

The climate is changing and I am open to common sense measures to limit pollution and harm to our environment. I would have to review any legislation before rendering an opinion about what actions the state could take.




Mari-Lynn Poskin (Democrat)

When I am talking to voters, I hear a lot of concern about environmental issues and climate change, particularly from our younger voters. As a Christian, my faith tradition demands that I be a good steward and take the best care that I can of our beautiful planet.

There are individual things everyone can do, like reduce food waste, recycle or cycle, as in bicycle, like I did when I worked at Johnson County Community College, where I won the Mid America Regional Council’s “Green Commute” challenge for several years in a row.

Then there are things we must do at every other level of organized society: nonprofits, businesses, city councils, county commissions, state legislatures and at the federal level. That is why I am such a fan of the Climate Action KC and their Climate Action Playbook.

I am going to unabashedly repeat their mission statement, because it informs, along with other expertise, my views:

Climate Action KC is a compact of elected officials and community leaders that works throughout the Kansas City region to draw down greenhouse gases, improve climate resilience, invigorate the economy, promote public health and improve the collective quality of life.

As a state legislator, I believe the first step is for the state of Kansas to recognize the science of climate change and declare it to be real. While the GOP platform, to which my opponent is committed, quibbles about declaring carbon monoxide a pollutant or not, we know that it is the IMBALANCE that challenges our survival.

Innovation and change are always a challenge, especially if elected officials are stuck in the old way of doing things. I owe it to my children, my grandchildren, your children and grandchildren and all the youth in Kansas to be forward thinking and proactive about climate change policy.

Kansas House District 21

Jerry Stogsdill (incumbent Democrat)

I believe climate change is the major challenge facing our state, our country and the world. If we don’t take better care of our planet our children and grandchildren may be faced with a world that is quite simply and literally unlivable.

Kansas is doing some exemplary things to address this issue. We are a leader in clean energy production. We are also working on a comprehensive water plan that will allow us to use our water resources in a responsible and sustainable manner. We seem to have the initial beginning of a bipartisan understanding that this is a critically serious issue, that it is science based and that it absolutely has to be addressed. With such a diversified population of urban and rural interests this is going to be a challenging process but I think it is one that will continue to attract bipartisan support

I will most certainly continue my support for expanding our clean energy industries in Kansas and the creation of a comprehensive and effective water plan. I think we also need to look at the use of single use plastics, the impact of fracking on the environment, the proper disposal of animal waste and the use of chemicals throughout our agricultural community.

As a member of the Tax Committee I have suggested that we prepare a long range plan to convert our fuel tax revenues from fossil fuel resources to the clean energy sources that will power our future modes of transportation. Gasoline powered cars and trucks will be rapidly replaced by electric powered vehicles. We need to make sure we have the infrastructure to support that transition as soon as possible. We also need to make sure we have the revenues to build and support that infrastructure. We do that by converting from fossil fuel taxes to clean energy taxes. Making that transition as soon as possible will be good for our environment and good for the Kansas economy.

Bob Reese (Republican)

Did not respond.

Kansas House District 23

Matthew Clark (Libertarian)

The state government can ensure its own buildings and vehicles are environmentally friendly and cost efficient. Beyond that, most of this climate change discussion usually turns to what mandates can the government put in place. This is not the role of state government. Use your voice and your money to fight climate change. Purchase sustainable products, buy from green companies and convince you friends and colleagues to do the same. Climate change can best be addressed with free speech and free markets by presenting a compelling argument which convinces a population to change their actions.

Susan Ruiz (incumbent Democrat)

The first step our state government should take is to formally recognize that climate change is real and that it is currently impacting our environment, health and agriculture economy. There is no single solution, we will have to come together to address climate change in a variety of ways. Changes in climate and weather patterns impacts our Kansas agriculture economy, especially due to changes in rain patterns.

These changes also increases adverse health conditions. Hotter temperatures lengthens the allergy season and adults/children with asthma will use treatments for a longer period of time. There is also an increase in cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Many of the people experiencing those chronic diseases lack access to primary healthcare and will over utilize emergency room services regardless if their condition rises to that level of care. Medicaid expansion will go a long way with reducing ER visits and increasing access to primary healthcare.

Jeff Shull (Republican)

Did not respond.

Kansas House District 29

Brett Parker (incumbent Democrat)

The state should be encouraging a switch to sustainable energy sources like wind and solar. While Kansas is a growing leader in wind energy, we should do everything we can to maximize that resource for our state and replace nonrenewable energy sources. It is time to take decisive measures to protect our future. I would continue my support in the House for these measures. In the legislature, we should work towards setting long term goals for energy efficiency standards for new construction, incentivize a transition to more electric and hybrid vehicles, and prepare for climate resiliency. I am proud to work with local elected leaders from all areas of the political spectrum as a part of Climate Action KC.

Jerry Clinton (Republican)

Did not respond.

Kansas House District 30

Laura Williams (Republican)

Climate change is a real concern and something which requires action on the part of everyone.  We all have a job to do in taking steps which keep our air and water clean, limit pollution and shrink our carbon footprint.  I am a supporter of alternative forms of energy.  While sustainability and clean energy policies are critically important, we also need to find ways to make these policies limited in their impact to our own personal cost of living or the cost of doing business.

Brandon Woodard (incumbent Democrat)

Climate change is real and caused by human activity, as recognized by 99% of scientists. Addressing the rapidly changing patterns in our climate is forward-thinking policy that will help create jobs, move away from a dependence on non-renewable energy sources, and protect National Security. In Kansas, we’ve seen first-hand the impact of our changing climate, with increasing frequency of flooding, wildfires, and drought. This also has a negative impact on our grid. We must work to enact legislation encouraging microgrids in our state to protect our military operations, schools, and university campuses, investments in wind and solar energy to move toward renewable energy, identify sustainable agricultural practices, and enable the ability to store power in homes and businesses. I will continue to approach climate change, like all issues, by creating a coalition of supporters from across the state to move these bipartisan issues forward.

Kansas House District 39

Les Lampe (Democrat)

The most recent report by the International Panel on Climate Change projects that the average temperature in Kansas will rise by 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. If the average temperature is almost 10 degrees warmer, the impact on health, industries, and agriculture will be profound. The climate change will be marked by greater extremes, including some episodes of extreme cold, but also marked by more intense rainfall events that lead to greater flooding and prolonged hot, dry periods that lead to crop failures and wildfires.

The role of the state will be to promote reductions in greenhouse gas emissions plus adopting practices and policies to help residents and businesses adapt to the changing climate. The first step in promoting these measures would be to form a Climate Change Task Force to make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature.

Kansas leads the country in the percentage of electric power produced by wind energy. It is now over 40% and is projected to increase. Once the Grain Belt Express transmission line is completed from Kansas through Missouri and Illinois into Indiana, Kansas will be providing renewable energy to much of the Midwest. Kansas also has an opportunity to greatly expand the use of solar power, particularly for residential and commercial applications. Current regulatory obstacles to the use of solar power should be addressed and minimized or eliminated.

Kansas is in a unique position to be a leader in development of renewable energy through advances in energy storage and distributed power generation. This innovation would also create huge economic benefits and thousands of sustainable jobs.

We already have excellent examples of practices to address climate change for both urban and rural settings. For urban environments, the practices endorsed by Climate Action KC and presented in the Climate Action Playbook should be promoted. For agriculture, both Kansas State University and the Land Institute have programs focused on regenerative agriculture where the focus is on developing perennial crops that take more carbon from the atmosphere and restore carbon to the soil rather than mining carbon from the soil.

The impacts of climate change on health are presented in the 2019 Climate and Health Declaration signed by many organizations and individuals, including myself.

The impacts of climate change on flooding have been demonstrated by prolonged flooding of agricultural land along the Missouri River and intense, local events such as the flooding on Wildcat Creek in Manhattan. The state should be involved in improved floodplain mapping and working with communities to reduce development in floodplains.

The state has many opportunities to mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve the resilience of the state against these impacts.

Owen Donohoe (incumbent Republican)

Did not respond.

That’s it! Thanks to all the candidates for participating.