Written by Bob Brookens Tuesday, 03 February 2009 14:02
When I first arrived in Topeka for the legislative session, one of the legislators referred to the legislative process as trying to drink from a fire hose. Well, I now understand fully what that feels like!
We’re being fed so much information so quickly we cannot gulp it all in, so we learn to prioritize—to study and digest our own committees’ work first, the issues of the upcoming week second, and then fill in the spare moments.
I’m getting better at that.
I’d like to say thanks to all of you who have contacted me this past week. I appreciate your input and questions, and I especially appreciate your kind words about this column.
I hope you all find it helpful. That is its purpose. These are challenging times, and the more Kansas citizens know and understand the better off Kansas will be.
I am likely to get to vote on a bill this week for the first time. Most of us have been regularly working in our committees on substantive bills—bills dealing with programs and policies, not funding bills—and they are not ready to be presented for final decisions. But the 2009 budget modifications are now ready for the House of Representatives to tackle.
I hope you’ve been following the reporting in the daily papers on the drama here in Topeka over the 2009 budget; the story is too long to report here. The Senate passed its version of the ’09 budget modifications on Thursday and the House Appropriations Committee worked overtime Friday crafting a bill we will consider in the full House this week,.
If what we pass is different from the Senate version, the two versions will be reviewed by a conference committee made up of senators and representatives, and the committee will hammer out the details for us all to consider.
I expect next week’s column will address the final product. I predict a far gentler set of modifications than first thought. That’s great for 2009, but it could mean a very lean, very tight 2010 budget.
As for my committees....
In Education, we have heard from the Department of Education about all the gains K-12 education has made because of the 2005-2008 push to appropriately fund education. It is clear that the additional funding has paid off.
So far, the Judiciary Committee has done very little, but a host of bills relating to abortion have been introduced, as well as proposals relating to the Kansas Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. Judiciary’s tempo is likely to pick up soon.
The Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee has heard reports from the Department of Corrections and from the Juvenile Justice Authority relating to the effectiveness of the programs now in place in Kansas.
I gave you a bit about Corrections last week and will give you more later as time and space permits.
You can contact me by email me at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at: 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861.