Capitol Update: Rep. Linda Featherston warns election postcards won’t tell whole story of this session

Rep. Linda Featherson, Democrat from Overland Park. Image courtesy Linda Featherston.

Each week during the 2022 Kansas legislative session, we will provide Shawnee Mission area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol.

Below is this week’s submission from Democratic Rep. Linda Featherston of Kansas House District 16, which covers parts of Lenexa and Overland Park. 

Democratic Rep. Rui Xu, Democratic Sen. Ethan Corson and Republican Sen. Molly Baumgardner were also offered the chance to submit columns this week.

The views expressed in each Capitol Update are solely those of the lawmaker and are not reflective of the Post’s position on any matter discussed. 

The postcards are coming! The postcards are coming!

This year is an election year for many important races. That means the few political ads that you’re currently seeing will multiply dramatically and your mailbox will soon see postcards by the dozen. Some will focus on what the candidate supports. Many will feature attacks on other candidates. You’ll see footnotes and citations that make everything seem legitimate, yet they rarely tell the whole story. (Side note: you might want to check some of those links out. I’ve personally tried links that literally went nowhere.)

In this Capitol Update column, I’d like to provide a wider view of some potential headlines you could find in your mailbox this summer.

“He voted against lowering your property taxes!”

HB 2239 did provide a property tax break for many Kansans. This seems like a good thing that everyone would support. What you might not know is that this bill was a bundle of 29 other bills. Many of these hadn’t been completely vetted or had been vastly expanded in committee. The bill passed by a wide margin, which allowed a number of representatives to vote “no” on principle.

“They don’t really support teachers!”

HB 2239 also contained a $250 state income tax credit to teachers who purchase any school supplies out of their own pocket. Many, many legislators feel teachers should’t be using their own money to buy supplies. Yet again, the bundling of 29 bills along with this measure was problematic for some legislators.

“She voted against additional protections for our frontline heroes!”

SB 286 did include increased protections for hospital workers. I worked long and hard to bring together interested parties and find strong bipartisan support for the issue in the form of HB 2620. This bill sailed out of committee but was held up for unknown reasons and then amended onto SB 286. That bill contained expanded immunities for health care facilities that many felt lessened patients’ ability to seek legal recourse in cases of malpractice.

“They voted against updating the Kansas Department of Labor’s (KDOL) outdated technology!”

HB 2196 included a provision to fund KDOL modernization. However, funding was already included in the governor’s budget, meaning there was no need for a separate bill. HB 2196 tied modernization funding to benefit reductions at a time when many of us still had constituents calling regularly seeking employment and unemployment benefit help.

“She vetoed money for COVID-19 research!”

SB 159 included $500,000 for the University of Kansas Medical Center to conduct COVID-19 stem cell research. Legislators received many automatically generated emails about this topic, and a state senator insisted that this provision be included in this appropriations bill. In reality, the funding recipients said they could’t use this money and didn’t want it. Clinical studies typically cost ten times this amount, rendering $500,000 nearly useless.

I could go on, but you get the point: what you see in an ad or on a postcard isn’t always what you get. If something seems fishy, it probably is.

You can look up bills, legislators’ voting records and their contact information at www.kslegislature.org.

I am honored to serve the people of House District 16. Constituents should always feel free to text or call me at 913-735-3635. You can email me at Linda.Featherston@house.ks.gov.