Legislative update from Rep. Pam Curtis, D-32nd Dist.

Rep. Pam Curtis

by Rep. Pam Curtis

It was a very busy week. We are quickly approaching bill deadlines and Turnaround Day, Feb. 28, after which the House takes up Senate bills that have passed and the Senate takes up House bills that have passed.

Former Rep. Kenny Wilk and Reagan Cussimanio provided information about the University of Kansas Health Systems at the Wyandotte-Leavenworth County Delegation Tuesday Lunch and Learn. It was good to have an opportunity to hear about the hospital’s new presence in downtown KCK, as well as support for an organ donor bill and Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Jerry Stogsdill and I have been working with the arts community to advocate for additional funding for the arts.

On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee increased the funding for the arts from about $188,000 to $500,000. This is very encouraging and if the amount remains in the budget when it is approved by the House and Senate, it will put Kansas on a good pathway to show a commitment to the arts as well as leverage federal grant funding.

It was such a pleasure to hear from Secretary Delia Garcia, Kansas Department of Labor, at the House Dem’s Thursday Summit. Garcia served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2005 to 2010 and is returning to Kansas with a wealth of experience from Washington, D.C., for this cabinet-level position.

HB 2279, a bill that Rep. Ponka-We Victors and I introduced, is scheduled for a hearing before the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 152-S. This bill will enhance the notification process for domestic violence victims.

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 at the Statehouse 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.

Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence Advocacy Day at the Capitol
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the Kansas State House was the host for KCASD for their 16th annual advocacy day at the Capitol. The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence posted their display throughout the Statehouse. It honored 56 Kansans who lost their lives to domestic and sexual violence. Organizations and their members from across the state were at the Capitol to educate the Legislature on the breadth and depth of services they provide to victims and survivors every day in local communities.

In addition to HB 2279 that Rep Victors and I introduced, several Democratic members in the House and the Senate have spearheaded legislation that would aid in the prevention and elimination of sexual and domestic violence and to advocate and strengthen resources for survivors and their communities.

Kansas Department of Corrections declares state of emergency
On Tuesday, Feb. 12, Interim Secretary Roger Werholtz declared an emergency at El Dorado Correctional Facility effective immediately due to critical staffing shortages. In the last few years, prisons across the state, especially in El Dorado, have seen rioting, problematic prison conditions, overcrowding, and severe understaffing, which has posed a safety risk to prisoners, staff, and the public.

These issues, and the current state of emergency, are largely because of the Brownback administration’s failed tax plan which led to severely neglecting and underfunding state agencies. Gov. Kelly and legislative leadership are working together to address this issue. Several proposals to remedy this are being discussed such as: changes in sentencing laws that could lessen prison crowding, additional funding for the prison system, and increasing pay and improving working conditions to attract and retain employees.

Kansas Public Employees Retirement System re-amortization on the floor
This week, the governor’s KPERS Re-amortization bill (HB 2197) landed in the House Financial Institutions and Pensions Committee.

In an unusual move, two committee members were replaced, one of whom made a motion to suspend the rules. This motion bypassed the two-thirds majority rules of the committee, merely to kick it out of committee immediately. Once on the floor, Democrats raised the procedural concerns with the full legislative body, making a motion to return it to committee. The motion was denied.

Democrats attempted to add four amendments to the bill, including a cost of living adjustment for retirees. They did not pass. Ultimately, the underlying bill did not pass.

Rep. Curtis’ committees include:
Local Government Committee – Ranking Minority Member
Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee – Member
Judiciary Committee – Member
Joint Committee Information Technology – Member
Wyandotte County Delegation Chair

My Legislative Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PamCurtisKCK.
My Twitter account, https://twitter.com/pcurtiskck
My website, https://www.curtisforkck.com/
Kansas Legislature website, http://kslegislature.org/

Kansas Congressional delegation split on border wall funding emergency

by Jim McLean, Kansas News Service

Kansas U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is one of several Republicans who expressed concern about President Donald Trump’s declaration Friday of a national emergency to fund construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Both Moran and fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts voted for a bipartisan appropriations bill, which prevented another partial shutdown of the federal government and passed the Senate 86-16. Democrat Sharice Davids was the only member of Kansas’ U.S. House delegation to support the measure, which passed 300-128 in the House.

Moran told the Kansas News Service last month during the government shutdown over the wall funding that he shared Trump’s concerns about border security, but that he hoped the president wouldn’t use emergency powers to circumvent Congress.

“Throughout my time in the Congress, particularly in the Senate, I have complained about administrations taking more and more of what is constitutionally the responsibility of the United States Congress,” he said. “But I also complain that Congress allows it to happen.”

The 1976 law that gives the president authority to declare a national emergency also gives Congress the power to terminate the order.

On Friday, Trump signed the appropriations bill. The president then declared an emergency on Friday because the measure included only $1.3 billion of the $5.7 billion he wanted for the wall. Unless blocked by Congress or the courts, the declaration will allow the president to redirect money appropriated for the U.S. military and for disaster response.

In a statement, Davids called the bill a good compromise that “funds smart and effective security at our borders and many other important investments in our communities.” The congresswoman, who is serving her first term in the 3rd District seat she captured from Republican Kevin Yoder in November, also criticized the president’s emergency declaration as “dangerous to our democracy.”

The Republican House members from Kansas all opposed the funding bill.

“It is shameful that these negotiations failed to secure our border, so I understand and respect the president’s declaration (of a national emergency),” U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall said in a statement. Marshall, who represents the vast western Kansas 1st District, voted it down because it included only enough money to build 55 of the 230 miles of border wall sought by Trump.

“I’m fed up with it, and the more than 70 percent of Kansans in my district who want the wall built are sick and tired of the political games and dysfunction in Washington,” he said.

Rep. Ron Estes, a Republican from Wichita who oversees the 4th District, also said the lack of funding for the wall justified emergency declaration.

“Rather than President Trump needing to declare a national emergency to protect our country, Congress should have done its job to provide increased border security,” Estes said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins, a Topeka Republican serving his first term, ran as a “build the wall guy.” He said the funding bill doesn’t do what’s needed.

“Our border agents told us what it will require to secure our border and this is not it,” Watkins said on Twitter.

Jim McLean is the senior correspondent for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

See more at https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-congressional-delegation-split-border-wall-funding-emergency

Snow in forecast for Tuesday

About 3.6 inches of snow is in the forecast for Wyandotte County from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning. (National Weather Service graphic)

Wyandotte County will have today to rest before looking at the possibility of 3 to 5 inches of snow on Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service says today’s forecast, Presidents Day, will be mostly cloudy with a high near 27 and a west wind of 5 to 7 mph becoming north in the afternoon.

No precipitation is in today’s forecast.

Moderate to heavy snow will return to the area on Tuesday afternoon and last through Wednesday morning, according to the weather service.

The storm will be heavier toward the north, with as much as 7 inches of snow expected near the state’s northern border.

Motorists should expect hazardous road conditions overnight Tuesday into Wednesday afternoon, the weather service said.

Looking ahead to the weekend, more snow is possible Friday night and Saturday, according to the weather service.

Tonight, it will be mostly cloudy with a low of 19 and a northeast wind of 5 to 7 mph, according to the weather service.

Tuesday, there is a 40 percent chance of snow, mostly after 3 p.m., the weather service said. The high will be near 31 with an east wind of 6 to 11 mph.

Tuesday night, there is a 90 percent chance of snow before 2 a.m., then snow and freezing rain. The low will be around 27 with an east wind of 7 to 11 mph, gusting to 21 mph, according to the weather service. New ice accumulation of less than a tenth of an inch is possible, and new snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches is possible.

Wednesday, there is a 20 percent chance of snow and freezing rain before 11 a.m., then a slight chance of rain between 11 a.m. and noon, the weather service said. It will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 36 and a southeast wind of 5 to 8 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Wednesday night, skies will be partly cloudy, with a low of 17, according to the weather service.

Thursday, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 39, the weather service said.

Thursday night, it will be mostly cloudy, with a low of 27, according to the weather service.

Friday, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 44, the weather service said.

Friday night, there is a 60 percent chance of rain before 3 a.m., then rain and snow likely between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., with snow likely after 4 a.m., according to the weather service. The low will be around 33.

Saturday, there is a 60 percent chance of rain and snow, with a high near 44, the weather service said.

Saturday night, there is a 60 percent chance of rain and snow, with a low of 25, according to the weather service.

Sunday, it will be mostly sunny, with a high of 38, the weather service said.