Capitol Update: ‘There is no easy fix and some of the decisions we face are going to be painful’

Each legislative session, we provide northeast Johnson County’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Jerry Stogsdill submits this week’s

Rep. Jerry Stogsdill
Rep. Jerry Stogsdill

Each legislative session, we provide northeast Johnson County’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Jerry Stogsdill submits this week’s udpate:

Being a “freshman,” my first month in the legislature has been exciting, frustrating, eventful, irritating and hopeful. The first week or so was spent trying to figure out the routine of the legislative process, finding committee rooms, meeting other members of the House of Representatives, setting up my office, and learning what to do when we are actually in session on the House floor — all while attending meetings, more meetings and more meetings! Having a very strong and experienced House Democratic leadership team along with a great group of 40 Democratic Representatives including five other Representatives from Johnson County (Representatives Ousley, Lusk, Parker, Holscher, and Neighbor) has made learning the legislative “ropes” a much easier process.

I am very pleased with my committee assignments. I am on the Veterans and Military Committee, the Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee and the Education Committee. I know the people of the 21st District expect me to be an active member of the House and I have started off with that directive in mind. In the Education Committee Representative Steve Crum and I have co-authored a bill to restore full due process rights to every teacher in the state of Kansas. This is a critical issue for teachers and is an important part in helping to retain and attract the very best teachers for our schools and students. The bill is presently in the House Education Committee and we hope to have hearings on the bill beginning this week. There will be numerous other important issues coming before the Education Committee this session and I will keep you informed.

In the Veterans and Military Committee, I have organized a meeting for this Wednesday which will bring together members of the Committee, members of the Kansas medical community and members of the medical staff at Irwin Army Community Hospital. I am exploring what we need to do in order to provisionally license the medical staff at Irwin so they would be able to work, in their off duty hours, in some of the medically underserved small towns around Ft. Riley. Thanks to the Governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid in Kansas, some of these small towns need all the help they can get and getting military medical personnel provisionally licensed in Kansas will help address that need.

In the Commerce Committee we are working on a variety of issues including the protection of the current Workman’s Comp program and on legislation to attract and grow the aviation industries in Kansas.

Over the next few months the Legislature will be dealing with a great many important and complicated issues including the development of a fair, equitable and broad based tax code, school finance, guns on campus, healthcare and economic development just to name a few. I plan to use this column, my Facebook Page (Rep. Jerry Stogsdill for the 21st District), my Web Site (JerryforKansas.com) and a newsletter which will start this week to keep my constituents informed of what is going on. If you ever have any questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. My phone number in Topeka is 785-296-7682, my office number is 452-South and my email address is Jerry.Stogsdill@house.ks.gov. You can also reach me here at home at 913-579-9208 and at jws4414@aol.com. Please contact me if you would like to be on our e-mail list.

Finally it is very important to note that over the last six years the Governor and his conservative followers in the Legislature have created an unprecedented economic disaster that will take years from which to recover. I am cautiously hopeful that with the 51 new members in the Legislature we can form Democratic / Moderate Republican coalitions which can begin to address these issues in a positive way for the people of Kansas. There is no easy fix and some of the decisions we face are going to be painful, but, with your help and, hopefully, some bipartisan cooperation we will make a strong start in returning Kansas to fiscal health, to educational prominence and to a national image that will make us proud.