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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)

Local bills moving through the process

How does a bill become law? For some northwest Kansas people, the process is a first-hand reality this year. It all started by contacting their legislator…

I was contacted by a constituent about an idea to allow golf carts on city streets after dark if they were equipped with proper lighting. Currently, state law allows a city to decide whether or not to allow golf carts and ATVs on their streets during daylight hours, and ATVs after dark if equipped with proper lighting. The idea was to give golf carts the same potential rights after dark as ATVs.

I also had a local government official contact me wanting to propose an increase in their local sales tax rate for a specific project. State law allows local county and cities to implement a local sales tax rate up to 1% for counties and 2% for cities, but anything above that requires additional authority. After they are granted the authority, local government officials must define the proposal on a ballot question for a public election. No local government can impose a sales tax without an approving vote by their people.

The amusement ride act is another issue affecting communities across the state, but was especially significant to northwest Kansas because most of the hometown carnivals are in our area. Amusement organizations met over the course of several months to develop collaborative solutions and presented those ideas to Senator Billinger and myself to help in crafting a new bill to address their concerns.

The first step is taking the idea to the Revisor of Statutes office. These are the legislative lawyers that carefully develop consistent language for all state laws. After hearing an explanation of the idea, a revisor will craft the concept into legal reality.

The draft is then reviewed against its intended purpose. Simple ideas can be created quickly. Complex laws may take many drafts and days to create. Once satisfactory, a legislator will introduce the newborn bill into a committee pertaining to its topic. After introduction, the bill is read in on the chamber floor and assigned a number. The bill then goes back to the committee chair for possible consideration. I say possible, because if the chair does not think the bill has any merit or credibility, they can choose to ignore it.

The first meeting is a hearing, where proponents and opponents are invited to come testify and make their arguments in favor or against the bill. Following that, the chair once again has the power to decide whether or not to move the bill further on into the process. The next step is a debate among the members of the committee on the bill, referred to as “working” the bill. Committee members can offer amendments at this point, based on the testimony offered during the hearing. The carnival bill is in this stage.

After working the bill, the committee can pass it for consideration by their entire chamber. If passed favorably, it is placed on General Orders. Chamber leadership then decides which bills are brought before the entire chamber for debate. The other two bills have made it through this process.

On the day I am writing this story, there are four bills being considered for debate in the House (one is my sales tax bill!) and 34 remain on General Orders - some of which have been there since last year.

When a bill is presented to the entire chamber for debate, one person is designated to “carry” the bill. That person explains the bill, provides arguments in favor of the bill, answers questions, and makes the motion to pass the bill. Typically, the carrier is either the original sponsor of the bill or a member of the committee of origin. I was selected to carry the sales tax bill, and I am pleased to announce it passed 109-14. That bill now goes to the Senate and into the committee process again: hearing, working, and General Orders. If any changes are made in the second chamber, the bill must go back to the chamber of origin for approval. Both chambers must ultimately approve of the final version before it can be sent to the governor.

As you can see, it is an extensive process. There are MANY hurdles a bill must jump to become law. I applaud the folks that have brought their proposals to me and came to Topeka to testify. Do you have a good idea for a new law or changing an existing law? It can become a reality! All it takes to get started is a simple phone call or email.

On the day I was selected to carry one of my bills on the chamber floor, my good friend and fellow "western" Kansas colleague, the Honorable Representative Ken Rahjes was selected as chairman of the committee of the whole.

Statue Statute

A new bill honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower has moved through the legislative process and is on the way to the governor. Senate Bill 262 authorizes the Capitol Preservation Committee to approve plans for the placement of a large statue of our Kansas-grown President on the capitol grounds. All funds for the project would be in the form of gifts, grants, contributions, etc. and no public funds would be used to construct and erect the statue.

The full cost of the statue, estimated at $127,000, has been raised and the final fundraising effort now goes toward the solid granite base, estimated at $40,000. Excess funds raised would be preserved for maintenance of the statue. The completion date is expected to be around October of this year if approved.

The statue of Eisenhower outside his museum in Abilene.
Meet our new governor, Dr. Jeff Colyer

The position of lieutenant governor is not always a highly visible position in Kansas. Making the transition into the governor's office now allows Dr. Jeff Colyer to formally speak about his plans for Kansas in the upcoming months of the legislative session and his vision for a path forward.

Below are some video links from inauguration and address, interviews, and his address to a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives from Wednesday this week.

Governor Colyer, joined by his wife and daughters,
being sworn in by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss

Governor Colyer addresses the media on his first day in office.

Governor Colyer addresses a joint session of the Senate and
House of Representatives, detailing his priorities and vision for Kansas.

Options expanding to Colby Area

Since 1983, Options Domestic & Sexual Violence Services has worked to empower victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault through more than a dozen services.  They serve 18 counties in Northwest Kansas including: Cheyenne, Rawlins, Decatur, Norton, Phillips, Smith, Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, Graham, Rooks, Osborne, Wallace, Logan, Gove, Trego, Ellis and Russell counties.

Their Executive Director, along with other advocates, met with me in the Capitol this week to explain their services, statistics from recent studies, and their own data from 2017. Last year, they provided 7,061 services across the counties they represent. With the national attention on sexual abuse, their office has seen an increase of 44% in the number of services provided. Staff remarked that number may not necessarily represent an increase in the occurrences of abuse, but rather the willingness for victims to come forward and seek help.

They also informed me that they are in the process of getting a facility in the Colby area to better serve needs in northwest Kansas. Many victims may not feel they can be helped if it means traveling to Hays, so this facility would give victims in northwest Kansas a more feasible option to get assistance.

It is very unfortunate that this service is even necessary in today's world, but it is crucial that rural areas have access to victims of abuse. We are fortunate to have this organization expanding to Colby!

Are you, or do you have a friend or loved one, experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or sex trafficking? Contact Options 24-Hour Helpline at 800-794-4264 to talk with a trained Advocate who can help!

House of Representative Page Opportunity

These are just a few of the Pages I sponsored during the 2017 legislative session.

Do you know any young adults who may be interested in being a Legislative Page for a day? I am taking requests for the new session!

Here's some quick info:

  • You must apply - there are limited spots available.
  • Check in at 8:00 a.m. with the Page Coordinator.
  • Serve as an assistant to the Kansas House of Representatives, running small errands as necessary for myself and other legislators.
  • Take a photo at 9:30 a.m. with the Governor (if available).
  • Observe the House Chamber as we gavel in and debate legislation on the agenda.
  • Receive a $5.00 voucher for the snack bar.
  • Tour the Capitol, including the inspiring "Dome Tour", as your time allows.

A certificate of appreciation recognizing your service to the state!

Recommended for young adults at least 12 years of age through High School Seniors, the Legislative Page program offers a memorable experience in the Kansas Capitol. Learn how the state government process works by becoming a part of it for a day!

Each legislator is allowed a limited number of Page sponsorships per month on a first-come, first-serve basis. Be sure to get your requests in as soon as possible. If you have further questions, please contact me at 785-296-0715 or Adam.Smith@House.KS.Gov

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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! Only together can we develop good solutions for the people of Northwest Kansas!

You play a key role in the efficiency and effectiveness of my communications! 

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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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