Rahjes Report -February 17, 2020

Hello from Topeka!  Despite some reports, the House is not shut down and we are continuing to hear bills and work bills in a diverse number of areas. From criminal justice reform to suicide prevention, protecting KPERS to allowing Kansans to itemize their tax deductions and take full advantage of the Trump tax cuts, we are hard at work vetting bills and finding ways to make our state work better for our families and neighbors.

This week the committee I chair, Higher Education Budget, will hear from our Regent institutions and work on a plan to fund universities, community colleges and technical schools.  As a budget chairman, I also sit on the full Appropriations Committee is hard at work examining the governor’s budget. Just this week an error was discovered that costs $25 million this year, and then compounds to $50, $75, and $100 million in the out years. This work is not glamorous and does not include big floor debates, but it is critical to the fiscal health of our state.

The governor has proposed several executive reorganization orders to the legislature. Under the law the legislature needs to take an in depth look at them. If they are good ideas, I will support them. When they have problems or do not lead to good outcomes I will not.   

Our committees are hard at work looking at these EROs. They will be making their recommendations to the full House (some have) and then the full House may consider those recommendations.

By House Rules committees have 15 days to consider EROs. If they do nothing the ERO will go into effect automatically. The Senate has 30 days and will begin reviewing them next week. The entire legislature has 60 days to: 1) have either house reject the ERO which kills it; 2) both houses approve the same amendments; or 3) do nothing in which case the ERO goes into effect on July 1.

I am keeping an open mind on these proposals but will be guided by the core principles of improving service for Kansans, increasing efficiency and cost savings, limited government, and doing what’s best for us, not what’s best for bureaucrats and political appointees.

Progress continues on the House Republican economic agenda titled “Make Kansas Work.”  HB 2515: Kansas Promise Act—passed out of Commerce.  HB 2522: Rural Healthcare Innovation Fund—in Appropriations to be heard this week.  HB 2516: First Time Homebuyer Accounts—heard by Rural Revitalization last week. HB 2416: Targeted Employment Act—in Commerce, heard last week and HB 2542: Social Security Exemption—in Taxation, heard this week.

There will be a series of Town Hall meetings on Friday, February 28th, thanks to the county Farm Bureau’s.  We will be in Ellis, Palco, Phillipsburg, Norton and Hill City. Once we have locations and times confirmed, they will be shared. Watch the newspaper and social media for updates also.

When you come to Topeka during the session, my office is in Room: 149-S.  My phone number is (785) 296-7463 and email is: ken.rahjes@house.ks.gov and you can always try my cell number at (785) 302-8416.  More updates at kenforkansas.com

I look forward to seeing you around the 110th District. It is my honor to be your representative.