Written by Rep. Bob Brookens Tuesday, 07 June 2011 13:23
June 1 was Sine Die. The governor had signed the budget with a few line items vetoed and we had one last look at those matters.
The one that gave me concern related to the Arts Commission. His veto of the roughly $680,000 budget completely unfunded it.
Like many of you who contacted me throughout the session, I disagreed with cutting out the Arts Commission, and I voted to override the governor’s veto. While I knew we didn’t have the votes to override, I thought I ought to stay true to my advocacy during the session.
We mustered a majority of those representatives who came to Sine Die (50 of us voted to override), but that was way short of the constitutional two-thirds majority.
I hope the arts flourish; I guess we’ll do it without funding from our state. The governor did appoint a new commissioner and he pledged some of the funds remaining from his inauguration to the Arts Commission, about $150,000.
With our adjournment sine die, the session is officially over until next January. I hope you will think through the things you hope the Legislature ought to accomplish in the next year, and in the next five years. Setting long-term and short-term goals are essential for an effective legislature, just as they are important for every family.
I need your input and will likely contact you again—possibly through this column—to learn your current views on spending, tax matters, etc. We’ve now cut about $1.8 billion in state spending since my election. In the meantime, please contemplate what other funds you advocate funding. What restructuring of, or modifications to, our tax system do you propose or oppose?
The 2012 session will include the necessary reapportionment of the 125 House districts and the 40 Senate districts. The national census is taken every 10 years and our most recent was taken in 2010. By spring 2011 the totals had been calculated and adjusted for accuracy and we learned that the “ideal” House district would have about 22,000 Kansans in it.
Each legislative house will re-draw its district lines so each approximates that ideal, and that means the 70th District will need to add about 2,000 people or so. I don’t know where they will come from, but that is up to the reapportionment committee.
I hope to continue representing the whole 70th District plus, another 2,200 folks, but that is also undecided as of yet. With the de-population of many western counties and the influx into eastern counties—Douglas and Johnson in particular—we will see a shift of legislators from rural to urban districts. The balance of power will again move east. Two or three new districts will be taken from rural areas and move into that urban corridor.
What will reapportionment mean for us in the center of Kansas? No one yet knows. The plan for reapportioning the districts is only beginning this summer; it will be completed by the end of the 2012 legislative session.
You likely will see an announcement in our local papers this summer about a “listening tour.” Members of the reapportionment committee will be in larger cities throughout the state to glean views from all Kansans who care to participate.
If you have thoughts for the committee about redistricting, I’d encourage you to attend one of the meetings. For you information, the Legislature also will reapportion the national congressional districts.
It is a pleasure to represent you. This is my last regular column, but there may be sporadic ones during the summer and fall, if important information surfaces. Meanwhile, please contact me at: Brookens70@sbcglobal.net, or write me at 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861, or call 620-382-2133.