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My Two Cents of Common Sense
"Northwest Kansas holds some truly inspiring scenery, contains a wealth of Old West history, possesses some of the finest educational institutions, promotes an entrepreneurial spirit, and is home to some of the most hard-working, genuine people I've ever met!"    ~ Adam Smith
1970 RD 3 Weskan, KS 67762
785-821-2568 (Cell)
300 SW 10th St, Suite 512N Topeka, KS  66612
785-296-0715 (Office)
It was a busy week, so for this week's newsletter I have edited portions of a summary report from our communications staff to include my personal opinion and interpretations of this week's activity. Time simply did not allow me to personally draft a completely original report as has been my newsletter standard practice.

Kansas tackles cybersecurity

Last Session, the Government, Technology, and Security Committee was created to study issues like Cybersecurity, making sure there is a system to protect citizens and state government from dangerous attacks and breaches on personal and critical data.  The Committee heard extensive testimony on the risk that Kansans and government agencies face from cyberattacks. The Legislature is tasked with balancing the probability of cyberattacks and fiscal costs to the state to protect personal information and defense against potential attacks.  Kansas has not been immune from cyberattacks and release of personal information, as a few examples have shown recently.

House Bill 2359 creates the Kansas Cybersecurity Act.  The bill contains the contents of HB 2560, which was introduced at the request of OITS.  The bill establishes the position of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and delineates the duties for the position.  The bill also creates the Kansas Information Security Office (KISO), which for budgeting purposes, will operate separately from the Department of Administration.  The CISO and KISO were created by Executive Order.  The bill also spells out the Information Technology and Cybersecurity duties of Executive Branch agency heads.  The bill was supported in the Government, Technology, and Security Committee by representatives of OITS, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.
The cost of defending and protecting sensitive data was provided for the in the legislation. The bill creates the Cybersecurity State Fund, which is financed with the imposition of an annual basic cybersecurity rate per employee for all governmental and nongovernmental entities connecting to state network services.  The rate could not exceed $700 per employee per year.  Collections begin on July 1, 2020. The bill allows governmental entities to pay for cybersecurity services from existing budgets, grants, or other revenues to offset costs associated with the rates.

New Livestreaming in House chamber

Thursday marked the first day that the House session was video streamed live with the new camera system.  Video can be viewed at: Kansas Legislature Livestream Channel

At the beginning of the year, our camera system from last year failed and in an effort to provide the public with the opportunity to observe online, we quickly installed a temporary system that was a lower quality video and audio quality. This newer system is much better; easier to understand sharp, clear audio - especially when speakers forget to speak forcefully into the microphones during debate, plus a higher resolution video quality that allows for better recognition.

This effort did have an expense, but Kansans have clearly spoken about wanting more transparency recently. Allowing real-time public observation of the proceedings in the Kansas House of Representatives chamber is a critical part of keeping everyone informed about legislation as it happens. For viewers much like my constituents in northwest Kansas that are significantly separated by distance from our state Capitol, this (and the livestreaming of all committee meetings) provides a great opportunity to be involved in their state government proceedings like never before.

State Revenues ahead of Estimates

On Friday, KLRD released the revenue report for monthly receipts in FY ’18.  With February revenues included, the total SGF receipts from taxes only are up $275 million from the November estimate.  Individual income tax receipts are $269 million above the estimate.  KLRD cautions that “as with the previous two months, a large portion of the growth in individual income tax receipts above the forecast appears to have been driven by the recently enacted change in federal tax law.” 

Regardless of why it has happened, the legislature has a responsibility to proceed with extreme caution, in my opinion. We have, in case you have forgotten, incurred significant debts due to shortfalls in recent state history. Last year, we borrowed most of the long-term investment fund to fill the gap at the end of the fiscal year. That has to be repaid. Some in Topeka are tempted to say this is "new" money, but that is a dangerous logic. We have kicked the proverbial can of KPERS, KDOT, mental health, education, and many others down the road and that can't continue. This is NOT "new" money - it's revenue that needs to be put toward our already encumbered expenses first and foremost.
I strive to create and maintain constituent relationships through good communication. Two-way communication is essential to my effectiveness as a legislator in promoting successful solutions for Northwest Kansas! Please consider subscribing to my contact list or send me an email and I will add you.
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