Capitol Update: Sen. Ethan Corson files bill to raise Kansas’ minimum wage

"It’s a matter of basic dignity: no one who works full-time should be living in poverty or forced to rely on government assistance. We can and must do better by our fellow Kansans," Sen. Ethan Corson writes in this week's Capitol Update.

Each week during the 2023 Kansas legislative session, we will provide Shawnee Mission area lawmakers the opportunity to share their thoughts about what is happening in the state captiol.

Below is this week’s submission from Democratic Sen. Ethan Corson of Kansas Senate District 7, covering the northeast corner of Johnson County. 

Last week, I introduced a series of bills to raise the minimum wage, outlaw gerrymandering, restore trust in government, increase diversity among elected officials and help veterans.

Here are more details about each:

  • SB 70, known as the “Making Work Pay Act,” would raise Kansas’s minimum wage to $10/hour on January 1, 2024 and then by $2 more per year until it reaches $16/hour on January 1, 2027. The bill also addresses tipped workers. It’s a matter of basic dignity: no one who works full-time should be living in poverty or forced to rely on government assistance. We can and must do better by our fellow Kansans. The evidence is overwhelming. For example, child poverty rates are the highest in states, like Kansas, that have not raised the minimum wage above the federal $7.25/hour standard. By comparison, on Jan. 1, Missouri’s minimum wage became $12/hour, increasing wages for 677,000 Missourians.
  • SB 69 bans gerrymandering and mandates a redistricting process that serves communities, not political parties. It would enact some basic requirements for redistricting that citizens of all political stripes have a right to expect but were sorely missing in last year’s redistricting. This includes things like making it illegal for a redistricting plan to favor one political party over another, or to dilute minority voting strength. The bill also requires taking communities of interest into account, keeping counties whole and preserving the core of existing districts.
  • SB 64 would prohibit statewide elected officials from receiving income from other employment or performing work for any entity other than the State of Kansas. I know, you’re probably thinking “Wait, that’s not already the law?” Unfortunately, it isn’t, and one current statewide elected official recently made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing outside legal work while also serving as Secretary of State.
  • SB 63 aims to increase diversity among elected officials at all levels by allowing candidates or office holders to use campaign funds to pay for the care of a child, disabled person or elderly family member who lives in their home when the need for care arises from candidate or official duties. My hope is that this will allow more parents with young children, single parents and caregivers to run for office and serve their communities. 
  • SB 58 honors our commitment to our military veterans by providing a sales tax exemption of 100% for disabled veterans on most purchases. It’s a small thing, but something we can do to honor the service and sacrifice of those who have given so much to our great country.

It’s a privilege to represent our community in the Kansas Senate. I can be reached at Ethan.Corson@senate.ks.gov or (785) 296-7390. 

Each week the Legislature is in session, I send an email newsletter discussing what I’m working on. If you’d like to receive it, please go here and select “Legislative Updates.” 

Additionally, myself, along with Reps. Stephanie Clayton, Jerry Stogsdill, Jarrod Ousley and Rui Xu, as well as Kansas State Board of Education member Melanie Haas and Johnson County Commissioner Becky Fast, hold a monthly town hall at the Powell Community Center, 6200 Martway St., in Mission.

During this current session, our town halls are at 9 a.m. on the following Saturdays: Jan. 28, Feb. 18, March 25, April 22 and May 27. You can also join us virtually. I hope to see you at this coming Saturday’s town hall!