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Mark's Musings - 2018 Legislative Session
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January 22, 2018 - Lofty Goals, Notable Challenges


The 2018 Kansas legislative session kicked off Monday, Jan. 8, and Governor Brownback delivered his final State of the State address Tuesday, Jan. 9. Unfortunately, I was in Houston Jan. 9 for the funeral of a close friend. But as your legislator, I was anxious to hear the speech, which outlines initiatives important to the administration, so I viewed the address on YouTube.
 

Funding Education

To address the Kansas Supreme Court ruling, which found that the current school funding plan is unconstitutional, the governor proposed adding $600 million for K-12 education during the next five years — without a plan to generate those funds.
 
The governor also outlined goals that the Kansas Board of Education should use to evaluate the equitable use of school funding:
  • Attain a 95 percent statewide high school graduation rate, with 75 percent of our students continuing their educations beyond high school by attending college, earning a post-secondary certification or joining the military.
  • Accelerate the movement of Kansas schools to the Kansans Can model for school redesign launched by the Kansas Department of Education.
Providing Kansas students a strong educational foundation is crucial to the future of our state, and I support increased funding. But I am concerned that the governor did not recommend how to pay for the $600 million increase, nor did he mention how much it will cost to achieve the goals that he pointed to as measures of success.
 
As my legislative colleagues and I work to formulate commonsense funding approaches, we have contracted for a study to determine the appropriate level of funding for K-12 education. The report, due March 15, will be another data point that will further deepen our understanding of what constitutionally required “suitable funding” looks like for Kansas children.

Proposed State Budget: The Highs and The Lows

The governor’s proposed budget fully funds the Career and Tech Ed Initiative, which is good news for Flint Hills Technical College. It also adds $500,000 in fiscal year 2019 for the Emporia State University (ESU) School of Nursing.
 
But there is no funding to restore the earlier 4 percent cuts to higher education.
 
I also noticed an unusual funding source for K-12 schools — about $14 million from the Children’s Initiative Fund (CIF), otherwise known as the Tobacco Settlement. I checked with the Legislative Research Department, which reported that money from the CIF had been used to help fund education only one other time, about 10 years ago. I do not support transferring money away from the CIF priorities of early childhood education, physical and mental health, and child welfare. Further details from the administration may clarify the use of those particular funds.

During his Jan. 17 State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the House and Senate, Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss stressed that, because judges and their staffs across the state need additional salary dollars, the judiciary requested roughly an additional $20 million … but the governor did not include any increase in his budget recommendation. This is an important area to address. We should not place public employee pay on hold for years while we continue to ask them to do more on the public’s behalf. Our country and state were founded on the principle of three co-equal branches of government. Even if we disagree with some of their decisions, each branch deserves our respect and should be provided with adequate resources to conduct its responsibilities on our behalf.
 
The needs that exist across the state far exceed the resources available. Years of failed tax policies and neglect have left this legislature with difficult choices. We know it cannot all be fixed immediately or even in a couple of years. Rather, we will be forced to implement solutions in steps across several years. I welcome and value your feedback — and your patience — as we strive to correct poor decisions of the past in ways that will benefit our state.
 

Committee Briefings: The What and the Why

I remain on these committees for 2018:
  • Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications
  • Water and Environment
  • Transportation
  • Education
 
Most of the first two weeks, committee members focused on bill introductions and background briefings. We soon will begin hearings and, within a few weeks, voting on bills.
 
The House Transportation committee heard briefings about autonomous vehicles, also known as driverless cars. We learned that the U.S. Department of Transportation has identified six levels of driver automation, with zero being no automation and five meaning the vehicle is capable of all driver functions, although the driver can take control at any time. Some manufacturers currently have vehicles that meet level three, “conditional automation.” Importantly, the impetus for developing these vehicles is not to have the latest bells and whistles. It’s driver safety. During 2016, there were 37,461 U.S. traffic fatalities, of which 90 percent were caused by driver error. Driver-assist technology can reduce traffic deaths, and make our roads safer for drivers and highway workers. No new Kansas legislation is being proposed, but technology is advancing rapidly, so future legislatures will need to address how autonomous vehicles affect driver license requirements, and highway funding and design.
 
Jan. 18 was Higher Education Day at the Capitol, and all community colleges, technical colleges and universities were represented. Flint Hills Technical College and ESU representatives were out in full force to share impressive success stories. It was a great day to be from Emporia!

Learning More to Serve You Better

While the legislature was adjourned last year, I took advantage of opportunities to gain a more in-depth understanding of issues that I may encounter in the committees on which I serve. These opportunities allowed me to meet with legislators from other states to find out whether and how they have addressed similar challenges in ways that we might be able to adapt for Kansas. I participated in the:
  • Council of State Governments (CSG) Midwest meeting. CSG-Midwest is a bipartisan legislative group focused on issues relevant to Midwest states and Canadian provinces. Because of my background in energy issues, I was appointed to the energy subcommittee of the CSG Midwest-Canada Relations committee and, later, was appointed an at-large member to the full committee.
  • The National Council of State Legislatures annual meeting. This is another national, bipartisan group of legislators and is probably the largest of the three major legislative organizations. Kansas is not alone in facing budget/tax difficulties, and many were interested in how our tax polities are changing direction.
  • The Kansas Geological Survey bus tour of northeast Kansas. This annual event is geared toward helping legislators from urban parts of the state learn about rural communities, and vice versa.
 
I also took part in the Kansas Energy Conference, the Energy Council quarterly meeting, the League of Kansas Municipalities regional meeting and the Kansas Water Conference.
 
You may wonder how much my travel costs the state — I would wonder that, too! I have paid the majority of the expenses either personally or through campaign funds — not with taxpayer dollars.

Watch the Legislature At Work

The House chamber is set to be video live-streamed this session ...  but the live-stream camera currently is not working.  It should be replaced in about 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, you can view recordings of daily legislative sessions. Once the camera is replaced, the same link will carry the sessions live.
 
You also can listen to audio live streaming in all committee rooms.  Check the House calendar for a list of committee meetings.

Mark Your Calendar: You’re Invited

Please join me, Senator Jeff Longbine and other area Representatives for the first Legislative Dialogue of the year, Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Sauder Alumni Center. Doors open at 8 a.m., and dialogue begins at 8:30 a.m. Thank you to the Emporia Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters for coordinating these dialogues, and to the sponsors who provide funding for them. I look forward to hearing your feedback and questions in person.
 
The second dialogue will be Saturday, March 10. Stay tuned for location information.
 

Paging All Pages

If you know a child ages 12-16 who would be interested in serving as my Legislative Page for a day, please contact my assistant, Deborah, 785-296-2721. It’s a great opportunity for young students to see the legislative process and tour the Capitol.
 

I’m Here to Serve You

As I begin my second year as your Representative, you have my pledge that I will continue to seek commonsense solutions to the challenges our state faces, and that I always will be candid and transparent. I welcome your input and thoughts — contact me any time. I am honored to represent you.

Contact Me

If you have questions about the activities in my committees or want to share your views on other issues before the legislature, please feel free to e-mail, text or call me. If you are visiting the Capitol, please stop by to say hello.
 
Representative Mark Schreiber
Visit my website at http://www.schreiberforkansas.com/
 
Home
1722 Yucca Lane
Emporia, KS   66801
Home: 620-342-6954
Cell: 785-230-0897
Email: markschreibe60@gmail.com
 
 
Legislative Office
Room 167-W, State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, KS   66612
Phone: 785-296-2721
Email: mark.schreiber@house.ks.gov

 Paid for by Mark Schreiber for Kansas House – Cindy Lore, Treasurer
 

Contact Mark

 

StateHouse Office

Room 167-W
300 SW 10th Street,
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: 785-296-2721
Mark.Schreiber@house.ks.gov

Home

1722 Yucca Lane
Emporia, Kansas 66801
Phone: 620-342-6954
markschreiber60@gmail.com
 

Communities of
the 60th District

 
 

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Copyright © 2018 Mark Schreiber for Kansas House, All rights reserved.


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