Legislative update from Rep. Pam Curtis

Rep. Pam Curtis

Opinion column

by Rep. Pam Curtis, D-32nd Dist.

The Kansas 2020 Legislative Session is in full swing, it was a very busy week, with much of the work still being done in committees as we hear and work bills to advance forward. We are just two weeks away from Turnaround Day when non-exempt committee bills must pass from the House to the Senate or Senate to the House for consideration.


During the session organizations, individuals and advocates fill the Capitol to participate in the process. Kansas Wealth Day, Environmental Advocacy and Education, was held on Monday bringing together organizations, advocates and legislators to learn about and advocate for water, energy, air, land, transportation and health.


It was so good to see my friends from Friends of Yates at the Capitol for KCSDV’s Advocacy Day. They joined coalition members from across the state to spend the day educating legislators and the public about the services their organizations provide to victims and survivors. I am very thankful for the work they do every day in our communities.

The Wyandotte County-Leavenworth County Delegation Luncheon this week was with the Kansas City, Kansas, Chamber of Commerce. We appreciate the presentation from the KCK Chamber on their legislative priorities and the discussion that followed on matters before the Kansas Legislature.

Weekly lunch and learns are very helpful with our work in the Kansas Legislature. This week Patrick Hubble was the guest speaker at the House Democratic Caucus Thursday Summit. The topic was railroads, which are an important part of Kansas history. Rail service, particularly freight, continues to be important to Kansas today with major railroads, along with regional and shortline carriers, operating key routes within the state. Many of my family members worked for the railroad including my dad, my Grandpa Horton and Grandpa Shirley. I still love hearing the train whistles, hearing the cars bump against each other and have such fond memories of the many trips we took riding the train. Here is a link to learn more about the history of railroads in Kansas: https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/railroad-industry-in-kansas/17156.

It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and appreciate your input on issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 452-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at 785-296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. You can also email me at pam.curtis@house.ks.gov.

Response to constitutional amendment failure
As soon as the constitutional amendment regarding abortion failed to receive the two-thirds vote required for passage in the House, Senate President Susan Wagle announced she was pulling any bill that could be germane to Medicaid expansion back into committee. The Senate Majority Leader, Jim Denning, responded to that announcement with a tweet calling Wagle an obstructionist and accusing her of not following the legislative process. It is unfortunate that Medicaid expansion, that would help so many Kansans that fall in the coverage gap, is being held hostage by those trying to force a different outcome on the constitutional amendment.

House Democratic caucus rolls out 2020 agenda
On Thursday, the House Democratic Caucus held a press conference to roll out their 2020 policy agenda and priorities. Minority Leader, Rep. Sawyer, spoke alongside a number of Democratic representatives on the five policy objectives: affordable, quality healthcare; investing in children; supporting workers and families; equal opportunity for all; and investing in a sustainable future. It was my privilege to participate and talk about supporting our working Kansans and their families. House Democrats have introduced many bills under each of these categories. Here is a link to watch the video of the press conference, https://www.facebook.com/kshousedems/videos/138081804016001/UzpfSTY5MDM4MDY5NjoxMDE2Mjg1NTU2Mjc2NTY5Nw/.

Hearings
In House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee a hearing was held on an anti-labor union bill (HB 2586) that would affect payroll deduction for union dues. Most of those testifying in support of the bill are not from Kansas and are not from right to work states. There was no testimony in support of this bill from anyone in Kansas that would be directly affected. We did hear from a number of Kansans opposed to this bill stating that it is not needed. The fate of the middle class is directly tied to the strength of our unions and strong unions are an important part of the balance for income equality. Democrats have always stood in support of unions and we will continue to do so.
HB 2385 – Designating the polka as the official state dance will have a hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 19, in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. I thought this might be of interest to my Polish friends, particularly those I grew up with on Polish Hill in KCK. Here is a link to the bill page which includes instructions in case you want to testify or send a letter or email in support of the bill: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2385/.

Looking ahead
We hope to get past the current gridlock regarding Medicaid expansion. Though the constitutional amendment failed in the House last week, it is fully expected to come back at some point during the session. Coming up in two weeks is turnaround – when we will be on the floor all day long dealing with bills the Senate has sent over to the House.

Bills passed through the House floor
We took our third final action vote Monday on HB 2466, enacting the Kansas taxpayer protection act and requiring the signature and tax identification number of paid preparers on income tax returns, it passed 118-1.

State Library
Learn online with Universal Class
Universal Class https://kslib.info/uclass is an online resource provided by the State Library of Kansas. Universal Class offers over 500 lifelong learning courses in more than 30 areas of study at no charge. Join a full course with instructors and readings or just watch the lecture videos to brush up on a topic. The wide range of courses offers something for everyone: from accounting to yoga, babysitting to parenting, cake decorating to computer training.

State of Kansas Fun Fact: In 1990, Kansas produced enough wheat to give everyone on earth 6 loaves of bread (33 billion loaves). Thus, Kansas is known as the Wheat State for a reason.

Resources
My Legislative Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/PamCurtisKCK/?ref=bookmarks
My Twitter Account , https://twitter.com/pcurtiskck.
My Website, https://www.curtisforkck.com/?utm_campaign=2020ksleg4&utm_medium=email&utm_source=pamcurtis.
Kansas Legislature Website, http://kslegislature.org/li/.

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