Career and technical training and retraining in fields where there are job vacancies is critical. I am a strong proponent of the Promise/Rise Act, that Laura Kelly vetoed on June 1. Getting our un- or under-trained workforce through the FAFSA/Pell Grant process and into certificate and degree programs that meet the regional needs in Kansas are essential to growing our workforce.
I can't say enough about the need for high speed internet access. The key to economic development - and improved education access - is high speed internet. Our EcoDevo policies must center on solutions to the lack of high speed internet access. Though this is a significant issue in our rural counties, the COVID pandemic has brought to light that Johnson County is NOT exempt from spotty access. It is an issue the Spring Hill community leaders have grappled with for years. No internet, limited new jobs!
Education is the foundation for the future of our children and our economy. Our state is dependent on robust pre-K through advanced degree educational opportunities for ALL students. The ongoing efforts of the Senate education committee are to assure access to Kansans for learning that includes “the basics” – reading, writing, and math – along with career and technical training that is needed to fill job vacancies throughout our state.
With the Kansas Supreme Court approval of the education funding formula that I was honored to negotiate as Chair of Senate Education, parents, students, and educators need leadership from people that truly understand the education landscape in our state. That's why I've hosted education Town Hall meetings in Stilwell and Louisburg, to help parents, teachers and administrators navigate COVID-related issues impacting our schools, and am coordinating another Town Hall for Gardner-Edgerton.
I'm a 4th generation educator that taught and coached at the high school level for seven years and served as a faculty member and program coordinator at Johnson County Community College for ten years. I now serve as Communications Coordinator at JCCC.
I believe we must continue to work to elevate life. This is a fundamental value that’s always been near and dear to my heart – and always will be. Kansans know that I support life from conception to natural death. And I will continue to battle against taxpayer-funded abortions and late-term abortions, and remain vigilant in protecting our parental notification law.
In the Kansas Senate, you can count on me to stand strong for the most vulnerable among us, regardless of age, disability or illness. During the last six years representing the 37th Senate District, I’ve been a pro-life leader. Last legislative session, I was an advocate of the Value Them Both Amendment. While legislators and the governor tried to portray this as an effort to usher in back alley abortions, nothing could be further from the truth. The Kansas judicial activists “found” a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution. In doing so, they support taking away the right of the people to enact reasonable abortion regulations into law, including partial-birth, live dismemberment and sex-selection abortion bans, and parental involvement for minors. This has brought to the state of Kansas a New York-style rationale for unregulated abortions.
Kansas – not unlike all other 49 states – continues to experience an increase in patients needing AND seeking mental health services and treatment. As a state, we don’t have enough doctors, nurses and therapists licensed in psychiatric care to come close to meeting the need. And the problem is even worse for our rural communities. Though we have community mental health clinics (CMHCs) and health clinics (CHCs) throughout the state, many of the clinic jobs have remained unfilled for years at a time.
Due to the unmet needs in Kansas when it comes to mental health, I've sponsored legislation to make necessary changes in our state.
Just when my legislative colleagues and constituents have grown tired of me beating the drum for Foster Care reform, another tragedy strikes an innocent child. 3-year old Olivia was murdered, even though her concerned grandparents notified DCF and law enforcement repeatedly since June. KCK police were called to her home five times in 2020. This is just one example in Kansas of how, too often, children in foster care are not getting the protection and resources they need to survive and thrive. Here's one of the recent bills that I sponsored to help foster children in Kansas.
KPERS is our commitment to Kansas Public Employees. The stated mission: “The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System in its fiduciary capacity, exists to deliver retirement, disability and survivor benefits to its members and their beneficiaries.” I was the lead co-sponsor for SB 9, which was the first bill to be passed in the Kansas Senate and House – unanimously – during the 2019 session.
The Senate tax committee worked hard all legislative session to vet a property tax bill that would stop the non-stop increases in property appraisal values which automatically increase your property taxes. The property tax transparency bill was important for homeowners. It didn’t strip local taxing authority, but it required a vote by the governing body before they raised your taxes. No more automatic property tax increases. During our final legislative session, we debated and passed the property tax transparency bill that also removed penalties and interest on property and income taxes during the pandemic, and allowed county treasurers the option to setup property tax payment plans. Senate vote 35-2, House vote 89-28. Governor Laura Kelly VETOED this important tax relief bill!
I support responsible gun ownership and participation in lawful hunting and shooting sports enjoyed by Kansans. As a lifetime NRA member, I have worked to defend the 2nd Amendment. My father was and siblings are life-time hunters, as are many of my constituents. With a growing anti-gun movement intended to chip away at 2nd Amendment rights in Kansas and suggestions of “collecting all guns like they do in Australia,” I refuse to support legislation that could strip away the right for law-abiding Kansans to own guns.
I’ve sponsored and co-sponsored six different transparency bills. The governing process, be it local boards, county commissions, or state agencies and lawmakers, Kansans deserve access. Likewise, Kansas Open Records and Meetings (KORA and KOMA) laws MUST be followed.
You can learn more about local, state and national elections by accessing our election websites. Follow the work of Kansas Legislature by accessing the different websites. Live video streaming is provided, and virtual ZOOM meetings, for both chambers by accessing the Kansas Legislature YouTube page. In addition, Senate and House committees are audio streamed for interim meetings and during the legislative session. Finally, the Kansas Legislature’s website remains an important resource. Here are the relevant links: