To learn more, visit!
View this email in your browser


Kansas Legislature
Johnson County Election Office
Register to Vote

Communities of the
25th District

Mission Hills
Mission Woods
Prairie Village
Roeland Park
Westwood Hills


In Topeka: 
State Capitol Room 352-A
Topeka, KS 66612

At home in Fairway
4124 Brookridge Drive
Fairway, KS 66205

State Resources
Department On Aging
Child/Adult Abuse Hotline
Child & Family Services
Consumer Protection
Crime Tip Hotline
Crime Victim Assistance
Gov- Brownback
Highway Road Conditions
511 (in Kansas)
Housing Hotline
KanCare Assistance
Kansas Lottery
Legislative Hotline
Mental Health Services
School Safety Hotline
Social Security
Taxpayer Assistance
Tax Refund Status
Unclaimed Property
Unemployment Insurance
Vital Statistics
Voter Registration
Welfare Fraud Hotline
Worker's Comp

Dear Melissa:

The 2017 legislative session is underway and it has been a very busy week. We were sworn in Monday by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss in a very simple ceremony in which we swear a solemn oath to uphold both the Kansas and US Constitutions – a responsibility I take seriously.
In the News
State of the State Address (SOTS)
It is a longstanding tradition that House members invite their Senator to sit with them for the State of the State address, which takes place in the House chamber and is actually a joint session. I was honored to have newly elected Senator Barbara Bollier sit with me for the address.
According to our governor, the 2012 tax breaks are spurring record job growth, and Kansas is “the envy of the world.” (Nevermind the $350 million shortfall we are currently facing, and the $580 million projected shortfall in the next fiscal year.)  The governor voiced continued opposition to Medicaid expansion and listed a set of policy proposals with scant detail regarding the source of funding for these new programs. The general sentiment among many colleagues is that funding long-term programs with one-time, borrowed funds is reckless and irresponsible. My comments were included in a number of articles: Governor’s Budget Proposal
On Wednesday, the governor’s budget report was released. The package was broadly panned, which has served to both point out the dire situation we find ourselves in and help bring lawmakers together with a sense of purpose when it comes to providing long-term sustainable solutions instead of continuing to kick the can down the road with risky one-time maneuvers.
FY 2017 (ending June 30):
  • Liquidate long-term investment fund designed to offset the unclaimed property fund.  Direct transfer of $45 million in interest earnings to State General Fund (SGF), then transfer the principal of $317 million to SGF and repay over seven years.
  • Reduce payments into KPERS by $86 million. 
FY 2018 and 2019:
  • Securitize (sell off) the revenue stream from the tobacco master settlement in order to receive upfront payments of $265 million in both FY 2018 and 2019.
  • Continue reduced payments to KPERS at the 2016 rate rather than staying the course as statutorily required.  This generates SGF savings of $140 million in 2018 and $199 million in 2019 but extends the reamortization of KPERS by ten years and therefore extends the timeline before KPERS is fully funded.
  • Continue to divert all sales tax revenue from KDOT to SGF.  Produces $288 million for the SGF in 2018 and $293 million in 2019.
  • Budget for efficiencies in K-12 school operation totaling $47 million in 2018 and $89 million in 2019.  This is based upon recommendations contained in the efficiency study commissioned by the legislature in 2015.  Legislative committees have already begun consideration of this proposal in order to determine if the proposals are feasible and whether the projected savings are attainable.
Governor's Tax Proposal
  • Exclude rents and royalties from the business income tax exemption granted to small business entities in 2012.
  • Freeze the bottom income tax rate at 2.7%
  • Increase annual report filing fee for businesses from $40 to $200
  • Increase tax on cigarettes $1 per pack
  • Increase tax on other tobacco products from 10% to 20%
  • Increase liquor enforcement tax from 8% to 16%
Cumulatively, these proposals would produce $179 million in 2018 and $199 million in 2019. 

On the Floor
This is the earliest I can recall having substantive votes and a rules debate. With the very limited amount of time and the severity of our fiscal crisis, I’m glad to see us get down to business.
HB 2017 was introduced in response to the selection of Wichita Congressman Mike Pompeo to be the next CIA Director, which requires him to vacate his seat in Congress and for a replacement to be elected by special election. This part of our election statutes was more than 50 years out-of-date, and the timeline it laid out did not comply with federal law. We needed to quickly enact an update to allow time for the overseas and military ballots to be printed and mailed. Easier ballot access for independent and third-party candidates was also included. Prompt passage of this bill will ensure an orderly selection process.
HR 6004 The rules under which the House and Senate operate are adopted for two years at a time. This year’s rules committee made some updates:
  1. Whether the House should stop work at midnight;
    1. Our work is best done in the light of day – both for transparency for the public, and clear minds for legislators. I have always supported the “midnight rule” and was pleased we were able to enact it in 2014. However, it needed to be amended to deal with an unintended consequence. The first time it was tested, we were left with a procedural dilemma that meant the House had to recess mid-debate and leave staff on duty all night long (clerks, security, etc) while we went home to sleep. We cleaned up the rulebook to resolve the conflict and ensure the midnight rule will function as intended.
  2. Pay-Go (requires amendments to the budget to include a source of funds to pay for the additional cost of whatever the amendment adds);
    1. The body came to its first major compromise of the session. Republican leadership sought to maintain full Pay-Go so every budget amendment offered, regardless of cost, had an accompanying funding source. Democrat leadership sought a complete removal of Pay-Go. The compromise position was to respect the concept of a rainy day fund and maintain Pay-Go until the state reaches its statutory ending balance of 7.5%. This is a fiscally responsible compromise that reflects our current fiscal reality while softening Pay-Go to allow input once we have money in the bank that can be spent.
Committee Work
K-12 Budget
Our first week included a school finance overview from Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis and a legal history provided by our revisor (revisors are our non-partisan legal staff). This will be an excellent foundation for committee members not already versed in the intricacies of school finance. Next week, we will begin budget hearings from the various agencies whose budgets we will develop, starting with the Kansas School for the Blind and School for the Deaf and continue with informational hearings in preparation for our work on the school funding formula.
This committee will focus on education policy issues and began work with an informational hearing on Kansas school/student performance measures provided by Mark Tallman of KASB (Kansas Association of School Boards). Because his presentation coincided with the KASB annual meeting, many school officials attended the hearing. I was delighted to see Deb Zila and Brad Stratton from SMSD, as well as Amy Martin from the Olathe Board of Education in attendance. I also had the chance to sit down with Superintendent Jim Hinson for a good talk afterwards.

Federal & State Affairs
Following committee and staff introductions, the committee heard briefings from the legislature’s technical services department, and an overview of Home Rule for local cities and counties. This committee focuses on the intersection of state and federal law, but that can be broadly interpreted and the subject matter this committee covers is not limited. Fed & State is considered an “exempt” committee, meaning that the deadlines for requesting bill drafts, introductions, debate, and voting do not apply. In other words, a bill introduced in this committee is automatically “blessed” and will survive until we adjourn the second year of our legislative biennium (2018). This will come in handy when we get into the school funding formula debate.
I have a new office and a new assistant. My office is now on the third floor in 352-S and my assistant is named Jeff. My phone number remains the same 785-296-7686. If you are in the statehouse, I invite you to stop in to say hello. 
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance to you. Your comments and questions are welcome.


Rep. Melissa Rooker
Kansas State Representative, District 25
Serving Northeast Johnson County
Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved.
Melissa Rooker,