It was great visiting with Seward County Treasurer, Kitty Romine, about the issues she faces every day.
Sally Fuller with Liberal Convention and Tourism was in Topeka to promote Liberal to the Lieutenant Governor. When we met, she shared with me concerns about funding for the state agency. Kansas’ State Tourism Budget consistently ranks in the bottom five of all states nationally. We also talked about what all of us can do to improve the international and national image of Kansas to encourage tourism. We have a rich history and beautiful vistas to show visitors. To learn more about all we have to offer in Kansas visit the Kansas Tourism Website.
Cory Barnett and Karem Gallo were in Topeka for Kansas Realtor Association Meetings. Sen. Ryckman and I had the opportunity to visit with them. It’s always great to see them, and Cory don’t let me forget to write that letter of support for the Archery Tag Grant.
Broadband Expansion Projects
Speaking of letters of support, I was glad to write two for broadband expansion projects in our area. Epic Touch is seeking a cost share grant to expand its service in Liberal. Ideatec is working on a project in rural Seward County. Because of funding related to Covid-19, there is a lot of federal funding for high-speed internet currently. Now is the time to get these projects done. I’m glad it’s happening. Before it was cool and before Covid, Rep. Pam Curtis and I convened several brown bag lunch-and-learn meetings on expanding high-speed internet in Kansas. These meetings led to the reinstitution of the State Broadband Office for Kansas and infrastructure funding in the IKE Transportation Plan. These steps have allowed Kansas to quickly access federal dollars for our community.
Legislature Overrides Governor’s
Veto of Redistricting Legislation
Last week, the Governor vetoed SB 355
, the Congressional map, known as Ad Astra 2. This week, the Legislature overrode the veto with the House voting 85-37
. The next step is for the Congressional map to undergo court review, providing a check and balance for Kansans that the map is drawn fairly and that it does not disenfranchise minority or other voting populations. Below is a comparison between the Ad Astra 2 map and the Bluestem Map proposed by the Democratic Party.
Major Economic Development
Legislation Becomes Law
On the news we always hear about the big economic development project that some other state got. Whether its Tesla in Texas or Rivian in Georgia you wonder why Kansas isn’t in the running. Frankly, we have not been competitive. This week, the House approved SB 347
, known as the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion (APEX) Act. APEX would ensure that companies make a minimum investment in Kansas of $1 billion over a five-year-period and, in exchange, would grant tax incentives to those companies. The Department of Commerce has announced that Kansas is one of two finalists for a $4 billion, 3-million square foot advanced manufacturing facility that would employ 4,000 people and create 16,000 temporary jobs during construction. SB 347
retools the current Kansas tax incentives to win this megaproject, as well as attract other projects in the future.
This bill is about creating a new set of incentives so Kansas can compete to attract large scale, job producing companies. The Governor proposed a bill that was, to put it kindly, a trainwreck. The bill raced through the Senate where it was done no favors, before ending up in the House Commerce Committee where members applied the brakes and made positive changes in the bill. During the floor debate House members further amended the bill to clarify the role of the legislative members of the State Finance Council in providing oversight of offers made under the new program and tightened the belt even further on certain incentives related to training new employees. If a company using this program leaves Kansas within 15 years, it must pay back incentives received from the state. We are working to improve the business climate in Kansas for every business, building and bringing good-paying jobs so all Kansans can experience the purpose of having a job, and increasing prosperity for every Kansas family.
This year the page program is active again. The Page program is designed for students in middle school, junior high or the first years of high school. Working as a page in the Kansas Legislature is an excellent way to learn more about the legislative process. Older High School and College Students can contact me about spending the day in Topeka with me, attend committee meetings, and learn more about the daily operations of the legislature. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact me for more information.