It's turnaround week in the Legislature – we're halfway through! Because of our deadlines, all bills that are to be considered must move forward by Thursday. It's going to be a busy week, and I'm eager to work through everything coming.
I want to thank my assistant Jan Jahanbani who has been so helpful in keeping the office running smoothly during this hectic time. If you have any questions about legislation and connecting with the office, she's a great resource.
It's been great hearing from you all, and please continue to keep in touch. It helps to hear from friends and neighbors in Wichita when these work days in Topeka stretch into work nights. There's some good, and not so good, work being done up here and I'd like to hear what you think.
Hope to talk again soon.
Strengthening Kansas Healthcare
As you probably know by now, I am a strong advocate for reforming and strengthening our healthcare systems in Kansas, ensuring as close to universal coverage as we can realistically deliver. That's why I'm such a strong supporter of Gov. Kelly's plan to expand Medicaid in Kansas, which will bring millions in investment, new jobs, and expanded healthcare options for thousands of our neighbors. It's a no-brainer, and it's the right thing to do. I will continue to press the fight forward in the Senate. If you want to get involved, please email me to find out how you can help the cause!
I was so disappointed with the recent passage of SB 32, a piece of legislation that bills itself as a solution, but does little more than line the pockets of a handpicked provider, while stripping away the commonsense rules and protections that Americans have come to expect from their insurance companies. All the while, they claim it's meant to "protect our rural communities."
Proponents of this bill should remember something: as a Kansas native, I will always fight for our rural communities and our ag producers. That's why I oppose this bill. We all want more Kansans insured with as good coverage as possible, but this bill just takes us back to pre-2010 failures in our healthcare system, like losing health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.
Domestic Violence Legislation
Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D-Wichita) addresses reporters in Topeka I was honored to stand with my strong female colleagues in the Senate on the need to address domestic violence in Kansas.
On Feb. 13, I joined a group of legislators led by Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D-Wichita) and Sen. Dinah Sykes (D-Lenexa) talked about the need to pass a bill focusing on housing protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking, and a bill increasing penalties for abusers.
According to Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, domestic violence deaths are at a 20-year high. This is simply unacceptable, and I am proud to fight for this legislation.
No-Bids, DCF and More
There's been a lot of discussion about the infuriating delay of an upgrade to the state’s tax return processing, awarded no-bid by the Brownback Administration at the price of $110 million.
As we're learning, no-bid contracts were a big part of the Brownback Administration's strategy. I think it goes without saying this is reckless and hurts the public's faith in our leaders.
That's why I'm glad Gov. Kelly has severed ties on a shady Brownback-era DCF contract, and is promising to investigate several more. This is such a positive step for Kansas families, and it's an issue that so many neighbors have reached out to me about.
We have thousands of kids who depend on the state for care, and it's near criminal to continually put their lives at risk because of lack of accountability and competent oversight. I'll continue to monitor this issue.
KDOT Turnover Concerns
We learned the Kansas Department of Transportation has a 100 percent turnover rate, with more than half of the 1,200 jobs in the department unfilled. Part of the problem? KDOT is only budgeted to pay employees roughly half of what they can earn in the private sector, putting the department in a permanent crisis.
This is holding us back as a state. I will continue to push for smart policies that fully fund our infrastructure programs that help spur growth in Kansas.
Around Topeka, Around Wichita and Contact Me
Last Saturday I had the great pleasure of viewing the KPTS documentary, "Brown V. Board - The Mural", as well as hear the story of the long struggle it has taken to finally install this important part of Kansas history on our Statehouse walls.
It's almost as if the mural represented other social constructs that took forever to change.
We got to hear Charles Jean-Baptiste describe his original passion for bringing this mural to life, and hear Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau explain the incredible machinations she and other legislators had to go through to make it happen.
Having the artist, Michael Young, join the panel made for a truly fascinating evening. Even though Mr. Young spoke with great humility, I could tell he was immensely proud of his role in telling this powerful story to the people of Kansas, and to the rest of the world.