Newsletter - February 23, 2020
I can smell the pancakes cooking on the grills and regret that I can’t be home for Pancake Day this year. The legislature is debating and voting on bills on the House floor Tuesday. I must make sure our community is represented in those debates just as you all are representing our community back home.
I know that General Chairman Mike Brack and lots of volunteers have worked incredibly hard to continue the tradition of Pancake Day which has helped make Liberal known across Kansas and around the world.
I am so proud to be a member of this community. Run fast and I’ll be waiting anxiously to hear the winner of the race.
Kansas Promise Scholarship Act
The House approved the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act (HB 2515
) this week, which will provide scholarships to Kansas graduates who agree to complete a certificate or two-year program at a community college, technical school, or trade school in one of 10 high-demand areas for skilled workers. These students will work part-time or provide 100 hours of community service while in school and commit to remain and work in Kansas for two years upon completion of their education. This bill is one of the five bills proposed by House Republicans in the Make Kansas Work Plan.
Governor’s Executive Reorganization Orders (EROs)
Last week House Committees held hearings and took action on all three of Governor Kelly’s EROs. Under House rules, committees have 15 days to consider an ERO. The full House or Senate can reject the ERO, which nullifies it; both chambers can implement the ERO with identical amendments; or either chamber can choose to do nothing, which results in the ERO going into effect on July 1. House resolutions regarding each of the EROs have been placed on the House calendar for the full House to take up consideration. Both chambers have until March 30th to act on these measures.
Department of Human Services
- The Governor’s proposed ERO #44 would take three existing operations and merge them into one large $2.9 billion state agency. Specifically, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, Department for Aging and Disability Services, and all functions related to juvenile services under the Department of Corrections would be combined into a newly-created Kansas Department of Human Services.
- These agencies handle some of the state’s most important work, including oversight of our foster care system, services and reform for at-risk juveniles, and services for Kansas seniors. Given the number of concerns that have not yet been resolved, including foster children sleeping on office floors, it is difficult to see how those issues would receive the attention they deserve and not get lost in the shuffle of a larger agency.
- There are also concerns about whether a behemoth agency handling all social services would become even more cumbersome for Kansans to navigate.
- The Governor’s administration has indicated there would be no cost-savings in creation of a combined agency. Without cost-savings or efficiencies to point to, there doesn’t seem to be justification for a change that would create a larger government agency for children, their families and seniors to navigate.
- The House Appropriations Committee’s recommendation is to disapprove the ERO, HR 6032.
Employee Health Plan Shift
- The Governor’s proposed ERO #45 would transfer the state employee health benefits plan and the state workers compensation self-insurance fund from the Department of Health and Environment to the Department of Administration.
- This transition was recommended as part of the Alvarez and Marsal Efficiency Study as a more efficient and cost-conscious way of administering these two functions.
- House General Government Committee’s recommendation is to approve the ERO, HR 6034.
Governor’s Energy Office
- The Governor’s proposed ERO #46 would create a Kansas Energy Office and remove those responsibilities from energy division of the Kansas Corporation Commission.
- Mechanisms are already in place for handling energy policy and operations without duplicating efforts and creating a new government office. The Legislature has the ability to create a state energy plan, which was a recommendation that came out of the recent London Economics utility rate study.
- This proposal would also interject partisan politics into our state’s energy operations by placing a gubernatorial appointee in charge of the proposed new division.
- The House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee’s recommendation is to disapprove the ERO, HR 6031.
The Shrove Tuesday competition began February 21, 1950, between people in Liberal, Kansas, and Olney, England. Each year we hold a 415-yard race to determine the fastest runner who can also flip a pancake.
Commemorated elsewhere as Mardi Gras, Pancake Day, Fat Tuesday, and Carnival, Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, a 40-day fasting period in preparation for Easter. The verb shrove
is Old English and relates to judgment or penance in preparation of Lent.
Observers of Lent traditionally quit eating richer foods with ingredients such as eggs, milk, and sugar. These ingredients were often used up in recipes before the feasting period began.
The Olney tradition dates to around 1445. Legend holds that a woman in Olney was making pancakes when the church bells began ringing to announce the service. Carrying her frying pan and wearing an apron, she raced to arrive at church on time. In subsequent years, others in the community joined in the race. The prize was the "Kiss of Peace" from the verger, or bell ringer.
The Liberal/Olney competition began when members of the Liberal Junior Chamber of Commerce learned about the Olney race and proposed a friendly competition with the English community. The contest, which continues today, requires that runners wear a traditional apron and scarf and carry a frying pan in which they toss a pancake at the beginning and ending of the race. The event concludes with the “Kiss of Peace” and a Shriving Service.
Excerpts from the Kansas Historical Society "Kansapedia"
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. My office at the Capitol is 274W, second floor west wing.