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Kansas Legislature
Johnson County Election Office
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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

Dear Melissa:

As 2016 comes to a close and attention turns to the challenges ahead in the 2017 legislative session, this seems an appropriate time to pause and reflect. Thank you so much for your support. I am honored to have earned a third term to represent you in the Kansas House. My opponent and I chose to keep our campaigns clean, classy and focused on the issues in an election season that was as nasty as any in recent memory. The two of us spoke on Election Day (before the polls closed) and thanked each other for that. Civility matters, and I remain committed to fostering courteous relationships with you.

It is interesting to focus on what happened in Kansas in the 2016 election cycle. There will be 45 new House members when the 2017 legislature convenes (there were 25 retirements, 9 incumbents lost in the August 2 primary, and 11 incumbents lost in the November 8 general). The Kansas House make-up will include 85 Republicans (down from 97) and 40 Democrats (up from 28). Within the Republican caucus, there is a fairly balanced mix of political ideology - think of it as the House divided into roughly equal thirds. 

The 2017 leadership team is also politically balanced and there is a strong desire to work in a collaborative manner to solve the serious challenges ahead. Any governing that is done will require tough compromises which should result in better policy coming from the state legislature. The wild card is how the governor chooses to respond. I welcome the opportunity to work toward consensus as we tackle the major issues facing our state.

Official Business
We met on Monday, December 5 in the House chamber to cast leadership votes. Here is a breakdown of what happened:
Speaker of the House:
Reps. Ron Ryckman (Olathe) vs. Russ Jennings (Lakin). Rep. Ryckman won 57-28.
Majority Leader:
Reps. Don Hineman (Dighton) vs. John Barker (Abilene). Rep. Hineman won 44-41.
Speaker Pro Tempore:
Reps. Scott Schwab (Olathe), Kyle Hoffman (Coldwater), Ron Highland (Wamego). Rep. Schwab won 52-19-14.
Assistant Majority Leader:
Reps. Tom Phillips (Manhattan) vs. Dan Hawkins (Wichita). Rep. Phillips won 44-41.
Majority Whip:
Reps. Kent Thompson (Chanute) vs. Blake Carpenter (Derby). Rep. Thompson won 48-37.
Caucus Chair:
Reps. Susan Concannon (Beloit) vs. Willie Dove (Bonner Springs). Rep. Concannon won 55-30.

Committee Assignments
Just before Christmas, House committee assignments were announced. I am very pleased to report that I will serve on these three committees in the session ahead:
  • 9am daily Federal & State Affairs – this committee is considered an “exempt” committee, meaning bills can be introduced at any time during the entire session and are exempt from deadlines.
  • 1:30pm daily K-12 Budget - this committee has been formed to handle the development of the K-12 school finance formula.
  • 3:30 daily Education – this committee will handle education policy.
I am pleased with my assignments and look forward to playing a meaningful role in shaping a number of key issues facing public education in Kansas. In addition, my seat on Fed & State will dovetail beautifully with several projects I have been working on in the interim. Stay tuned for more information as the session begins!
State Revenues
Since my last newsletter, the state again downgraded expected revenues in hopes of developing a more accurate assessment of the state’s income (taxpayer dollars). In fact, some estimates show the state is already more than $300 million down from what it budgeted to fulfill the current-year budget through June 30, 2017. November’s revenues were announced December 1 and the drastically lowered expectations were exceeded by  little more than $1 million.
When we return to work, tough choices await. Any easy sources of short-term money to cover the shortfall were exhausted long ago. My hope is that we can map out a strategy for providing structural reform and create a long-term recovery plan that will restore stability to our state budget.
I look forward to continuing our work together as one of northeast Johnson County’s voices in Topeka. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments, and let me know if your travels bring you to Topeka as I would love to see you in the statehouse. Please note my new office location, 352-A, right around the corner from the House chamber. 

Rep. Melissa Rooker
Kansas State Representative, District 25
Serving Northeast Johnson County
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved.
Melissa Rooker,