Jerry's Capitol Journal
Democrats Roll Out Transparency Package

On Tuesday, House and Senate Democrats held a joint press conference at which they rolled out a package of transparency bills. One of the cornerstones of our democracy is that voters can hold their representatives accountable; the bills offered by Democrats take major steps toward opening up the legislative process and state government.
The transparency bills introduced by Democrats in the House are as follows:

Gut and Go Prohibition  This bill would create statute that specifically prohibits removing the contents of a bill in its entirety and replacing with new material.  This prohibition would apply to any action on the floor, in committee or in conference committee in either chamber.     

Gut and Go Tracking  Currently, not all actions taken on a bill are fully transparent to the public.  This bill would provide a mechanism for fully reporting bill action to a publicly accessible website – including any gut and go actions.

No Secret Votes  This bill would require that all votes taken in the Kansas Legislature be recorded.  This would include all votes in committee as well as all votes on the floor of either chamber (including GO votes and amendment votes).

Civil Asset Forfeiture  Among other changes, this bill would require all law enforcement agencies to report to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) a listing of all property seized from law enforcement activities and requires the KBI to make that list available to the public.  The bill would also provide a clear system for how citizens can reclaim their seized property.  

Lobbyist Cool-down Period  HB 2155 would create the Kansas Integrity in Government Act which would prohibit an individual from lobbying or being employed as a lobbyist within one year of the date of that person's resignation from a term of any state-elected office to which the individual was elected or appointed. 

DCF Death Records  HB 2309 would amend the Kansas Code for Care of Children by requiring that all reports received by the Secretary of the Department for Children and Families, a law enforcement officer, or any juvenile intake and assessment worker, regarding sexual abuse, great bodily harm or death of a child in the custody of the Secretary be made public record and subject to disclosure through the Open Records Act.

Election Reform  Would create law requiring manual audits of elections and would amend law related to the timing of the election canvasses and electronic voting machines. The bill would also require all voting machines to provide a paper copy of each vote cast at the time the vote was cast. 

Prohibiting Outside Employment  This bill would prohibit any statewide office holder from being engaged in any outside employment while holding statewide office.

Increasing Penalties under KORA and KOMA  The current penalties within the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) and the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) are virtually nonexistent. Additionally, state agencies oftentimes charge exorbitant fees before releasing the records and too often take months before fully responding to a request. This bill would remedy these issues and help ensure the public has appropriate access to the records of its government.   

State Finance Council Passes Lansing Prison Contract
During the first procedural vote to confirm Brownback’s nomination on Wednesday, another vote was taking place in Kansas – whether or not to approve a contract with CoreCivic to build a new corrections facility in Lansing.

The deal was approved 6-3 by the State Finance Council. Kansas now enters into a lease-to-purchase contract with a for-profit prison company. The three no votes were made by House Democratic Leader Rep. Jim Ward, Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Anthony Hensley, and Republican Sen. Carolyn McGinn.

While Democratic Leadership and caucuses understand that Lansing desperately needs a new corrections facility – and advocate that the facility must remain in Lansing – CoreCivic is an unreliable partner with a substandard history nationwide. A project of this magnitude would be better vetted by the full legislature, rather than a small group of nine members.

Republican Leadership Attacks Deputy Education Commissioner
Conservative Republican Senate President Susan Wagle and conservative House Speaker Ron Ryckman sent a letter on Wednesday to the Chairman of the Kansas State Department of Education. The letter attacked the Deputy Education Commissioner of School Finance, Dale Dennis, a decades-long public servant who has dedicated that service to the children of Kansas.

Their letter sparked a bipartisan backlash from me and a great many of my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, in the Kansas legislature, in state agencies, from school administrators, teachers and from the public from across the state. They were outraged that Dale Dennis who is the utmost authority on school finance in the state was being attacked for purely political purposes by the ultra-conservatives in the House and Senate who did not want him available for the upcoming debate on school finance.

His removal, which was recommended in the original letter from the Senate President and House Speaker, would have been detrimental to Kansas schoolchildren, teachers and parents.  It would have also been detrimental to the  Legislature as we head into a session where crafting a new, adequate, and equitable school finance formula is not only a major priority, but a requirement by the Kansas Supreme Court. Dale Dennis is the most reliable and trusted source for school finance information in the state of Kansas and, it seems, the conservative Republicans would have liked to have authored their own statistics and facts rather than rely on the statistics and facts available through the universally recognized expert in this area.

Fortunately, the Kansas State Board of Education on Friday saw through this blatant political maneuvering by the conservatives and voted overwhelmingly (9-1) to reject the demands of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, retain Mr. Dennis and his entire staff making them available as trusted resources for the upcoming debate and action on school finance.  Congratulations to Dale and his staff and hats off to the Kansas State Board of Education!

First Floor Votes of the 2018 Session
On Friday, the House held the first vote of the 2018 session. Two bills came above the line, and passed through easily.   I voted yes on each bill.

HB 2439: An act concerning crimes, punishment and criminal procedure; relating to involuntary manslaughter; aggravated battery; involving certain violations of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

HB 2482: An act concerning alcoholic beverages; relating to the hours of sale of alcoholic liquor by the drink.
Kansas Teacher of the Year Award
It was a pleasure and a privilege to spend some time last week with the winner and seven finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year Award. I had the honor of representing the Kansas House of Representatives on the group of judges who selected the eventual winner from among these outstanding group of Kansas public school teachers. 

Now, we have to find more ways to attract and retain these great teachers and their outstanding colleagues from all over the state.  Competitive pay and the return of Due Process rights would be a good start.

Again, my congratulations to these very caring, talented and professional teachers.


As always, I am seeking your support, your questions and your suggestions as we go about representing the people of Kansas. We are indeed stronger and wiser when we as Representatives and constituents work together on these issues. It is a pleasure and a privilege to represent the people of the 21st District and I look forward to working WITH you and FOR you in this very important 2018 session of the Kansas Legislature.

Please consider a donation towards my 2018 re-election campaign



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4414 Tomahawk Road
Prairie Village, KS

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