As a Wichita native, a daughter of a deeply politically active father, and a lifelong advocate for social justice, I’ve seen, won, and lost many tough political scraps. Paired with the politics I’ve witnessed as a small business owner, I thought I’d seen some doozies. Then I came to the Kansas Senate.
I’ve learned quickly how solidarity, a main concept of the labor movement, can establish itself as a powerful force for good in the face of extreme pressures. As any reasonable person knows implicitly, Kansas values don’t wear a party label. I’m proud to work with courageous men and women who work hard in good faith to help make our state the best place possible to live, work, and raise a family.
I want to specifically recognize my colleagues from across the aisle, Sens. Mary Jo Taylor and John Skubal. In defiance of a party establishment intent on returning Kansas to the failed economic policies of the recent past, these Republican senators showed great courage this last in standing up for working people in Kansas. Unfortunately, Senate President Wagle was successful in muscling through Senate Bill 22, a wrong-headed approach that secures hundreds of millions in tax giveaways primarily to multinational corporations without a promise of job creation.
We've been down this road before, but thanks to the courage of my colleagues, this bill critically lacks a veto-proof majority. Thankfully, Gov. Kelly is all but certain to assign this Brownbackish bill to the circular file.
It’s shaping up to be a challenging session, and Kansans are ready for a Legislature that works together. With a bit of luck, and a lot of courage, I think we can get there. But it’s only possible if working people stand up for one another, and those representing them in Topeka share those values. I think we have reason for optimism.
Like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, KPERS, the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, represents a promise our state made with our state workers to provide for them after their years of service are complete. Unfortunately, politicians have in recent years used KPERS as a slush fund to help shore up fiscally reckless tax schemes and other pet projects. This is wrong, and I join Gov. Kelly in her determination to put KPERS on firmer fiscal ground.
I made my intentions clear by voting YEA on SB 9, which authorizes a one-time payment of $115 million to help get our system back on track.
Kansas Public Employees Retirement System
I welcome Gov. Kelly's proposed plan to renegotiate our KPERS liabilities. I believe this puts our state in a better position to tackle our budget problems in the near term while respecting our promises in the long term.
I will always stand with our state workers and their families.
A New “Tax Experiment?”
Speaking of moving away from the failed political machinations of our recent past, I’m deeply troubled by Sen. Wagle’s insistence on ramming through SB 22, which creates a multimillion dollar tax handout that goes largely to global corporations (sound familiar yet?) without any guarantee of job growth here in Kansas. The cumulative effect would be an immediate loss of nearly $200 million from the State General Fund, almost certainly dooming hopes for Medicaid Expansion or putting our school finance troubles to rest.
We’ve been over this already, and the people of Kansas have spoken loud and clear both in 2016 and 2018. Voters told Sen. Wagle they want leadership that respects fiscal responsibility and properly funds our obligations.
As we all know, the tax experiments from years past didn’t work then, and they won’t work now. I hope Sen. Wagle changes course. Meanwhile, I welcome Gov. Kelly’s coming veto of this wrong-headed legislation, should it come to that. I was proud to join a bipartisan group of senators who voted NO to the reintroduction of failed tax experiments in Kansas. For my part, I’m disappointed my Wichita colleague would continue down this disappointing path.
Momentum for Medical Cannabis
If there's an issue that has lit up the hopes of countless Kansas families, it's the prospect of legalizing medical cannabis sales in Kansas. As a small business owner who deals in providing relief through products like CBD, I'm thrilled to join a bipartisan coalition of legislators supporting SB 113, an act providing for the legalization and regulation of cannabis for medical purposes.
Public support of cannabis for medicinal purposes is staggering, topping 75 percent in some polls.
There are many unanswered questions, but for the sake of veterans with PTSD, children who suffer from seizures, and the thousands of Kansans for whom medical cannabis can provide real relief, we have to get this done right.
I look forward to this discussion, and I welcome your feedback as this process continues.
Around Wichita and in Topeka
I’m always so grateful to see visitors from Wichita in Topeka and to visit with you while I’m here in town between days at the Capitol. If you would like me to join you at an event, please email me! Please include as much information as possible in your email.