Newsletter - January 24, 2021
Transitions – Change - Community
Last week we witnessed a transition of leadership in our community. I want to thank County Commission Chair Nathan McCaffery, Mayor Connie Siegrist and USD 480 Board President Alan Brown for their leadership. I also want to thank retiring leaders County Commissioner Jim Rice, Sheriff Bill McBride, and USD #480 Superintendent Renae Hickert for their years of service.
Local Government is the one closest to the people and affects us the most. We see our local leaders every day. Any of us can run for these offices and keep our day jobs. We work with them, go to church with them and see them at the restaurant. Every trip to the grocery store is a listening tour for them of your concerns and issues. They live everyday with the results of their decisions.
The last year has shown how important our local elected officials are and how important your input is. Democracy builds consensus and makes sure you are heard. No one has all the answers but listening to your perspective helps make sure the best decisions are made.
All of this brings me back to being thankful for our County and City Commissioners, our School Board Members, College Trustees, other local elected officials, hospital board, and government employees. It has been a hard year for everyone. Our leaders have made mistakes, we all do, but importantly they have made many good hard decisions and worked to build consensus.
House Passes “Value Them Both” Amendment
The House passed the “Value them Both” Constitutional Amendment with the required two-thirds majority vote. If approved by Kansas Senate, Kansas voters will have the opportunity in the August 2022 election to vote on whether they believe the state should be able to regulate abortion procedures. This amendment is in response to a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling, known as the Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt
House Passes COVID-19 Plan:
Keeping Kansas Safely Open
On Thursday, the House passed SB 14
, the Legislature’s response to keeping Kansas safely open through the COVID-19 pandemic. Modeled after last year’s 2020 Special Session HB 2016
, SB 14 continues the state of disaster emergency until March 31, 2021 and protects the checks and balances the 2020 Legislature put in place. This includes protecting Kansas’ ability to continue receiving federal disaster resources. It also limits the Governor’s ability to issue statewide mandates regarding business closures and mask mandates with no ability for local officials to make decisions for their communities.
SB 14 also protects temporary licensure for certain health care providers, access to telemedicine and business immunity from unwarranted COVID-19 claims so that health care providers and small business owners can continue to care for their patients and safely operate through the duration of the pandemic.
This week, House committees received an update
from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Media reports
as of December 31, said “Kansas had the lowest vaccination rate among states.” The CDC said Monday that the state is now up to 2,650 shots per 100,000 residents and that 25 states have lower vaccination rates, including Missouri, where the rate is 2,445 per 100,000 residents.
The governor has released a vaccine dashboard
with data on doses given, doses distributed, and the percentage of Kansans vaccinated. In Seward County information on vaccine availability, locations, and to get on a waiting list can be found at Seward County Connect
. The governor announced on January 21, that Kansas was moving into Phase 2, when seniors age 65 and older, high contact critical workers, and those in congregate settings will begin receiving the vaccine.
Unfortunately, there is more work to be done on getting information coordinated on vaccine distribution, especially as the number of individuals eligible to receive vaccines grows in Phase 2. Counties are seeing problems with getting enough vaccines to meet the demand. The January 21st
KDHE vaccine update indicates there are 1 million Kansans eligible in Phase 2, but the next shipment of vaccines from the federal government will only total about 40,000 doses.
Following the Legislature
Many of my committees are making use of technology so we can meet safely and get important work done. While there are hiccups from time to time, I encourage you to follow this session on the Legislature’s website at www.kslegislature.org
and by clicking on the audio/video tab in the upper right corner.
“This democracy of ours, which sometimes we've treated so lightly, is more than ever a comfortable cloak, so let us not tear it asunder, for no man knows, once it is destroyed, where or when he will find its protective warmth again.” - Ronald Reagan
Thank you for the opportunity to continue serving working families in Seward County. Please reach out to me any time I can assist you with a state agency concern. I do ask that you send the request to me by email. This ensures that I get the information correctly to the agency we are working with. You can reach me when I’m in Topeka by email Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org
, by phone (785) 296-7466, or by mail at 300 SW 10th
Avenue, 274-W, Topeka, KS 66612