December 7, 2016 Newsletter
I am writing this 75 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This led me to reflect on the sacrifices of our forefathers and veterans. We live in the best of times. We are blessed. But we must always be vigilant and not take our great country for granted. We must work together and stay focused. If we do this, the sacrifices required of us will be minimal compared to what those before us have given. I can’t thank our veterans and forefathers enough for their sacrifices.
Kansas House Leadership Elections
Monday the leadership of the Kansas House was elected. Southwest Kansas will be well represented this session.
Ron Ryckman, Jr. of Olathe was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, Representative Ryckman grew up in Meade and his father represented the district including Meade and Plains last session. Last session Rep. Ryckman chaired the Appropriations Committee. The Speaker of the House selects the chairmen and vice chairmen of the committees, the committees representatives serve on, which committees work bills, and in conjunction with the Majority Leader determines the sequence of bills on General Orders.
Don Hineman, a lifelong resident of Dighton, 21 miles east of Scott City, was selected Majority Leader. This is the 2nd
most powerful position in the House and in addition to determining the sequence of bills on General Orders he is the only representative that can make certain procedural motions.
Scott Schwab of Johnson County was selected Speaker Pro Tem of the House. Representative Schwab is a native of Great Bend. The Speaker Pro Tem chairs the House when the Speaker is busy with other business, which happens a lot, and is responsible for interns and assigning mentors to new representatives. Representative Schwab has a great understanding of the rules and procedures of the House.
Tom Phillips of Manhattan Kansas (most in Johnson County think that’s Western Kansas) was selected Assistant Majority Leader. This position runs the education program for new Republican Representatives.
Susan Concannon from Beloit is the new Caucus Chair. She is responsible for chairing the Republican Caucus meetings. Her husband grew up in Hugoton.
Kent Thompson from Iola is the new Republican Whip. Iola is a town about Liberal’s size on Highway 54 in Southeast Kansas. He works with Leadership and the members to secure enough votes to pass legislation.
On the Democratic side the major change was Jim Ward of Wichita being elected Minority Leader. Representative Ward is expected to more actively challenge the Republican Leadership in the House than prior leadership.
I am hopeful about the upcoming session. It will be difficult. I know many of you are aware of the continuing financial difficulties we face. We are currently projected to have a $350 million deficit that has to be covered by June 30th
and over $500 million next year. I believe our new leadership realizes we have a problem. They want to fix the problem and “Want to make the trains run on time.” What does that mean? Getting away from crisis management. Begin to fix our structural deficit. Fill the vacant positions in our government that led to no investigators for welfare fraud within 180 miles of Liberal
and 20% vacancies among our Highway Patrol Officers. Restore the loss of Medicaid funding for our mental hospitals, eliminate backlogs of over 90 days for patients that require Kancare funding for the nursing home, restore cuts of 30% to the Senior Care Act, restore the 4% Medicaid provider reimbursement cuts to our health care professionals, nursing homes and hospitals. Fund the highway projects promised. We didn’t get here overnight folks and we won’t fix this overnight. It won’t be pretty or easy. But as I said earlier this isn’t Pearl Harbor and it isn’t the Revolution. We just need to toughen up and get a plan. I think we have the leadership to solve this.
Please reach out to me regarding issues with our state government that I can help with. I do ask that you send the request to me by email. My email address is: Shannon.email@example.com
. This insures that I get the information correctly to the agency we are working with.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Please contact me anytime. My email is: Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org