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Dear Friend:
Before I wrap up my first legislative year, I want to thank everyone who took time to reach out to me over the past year to share your concerns, ask questions and be engaged. It has been an incredible year for me and I am proud to be part of a broad bi-partisan coalition of sensible lawmakers who are working hard to return Kansas back to sanity and solvency. Kansans have always been pragmatic, common-sense people who expect their leaders be the same. Kansas has always governed best when it is governed from the center, not from either extreme. And, that is how I try to approach the problems we face as a state.  
 
Over the past two months I’ve attended several meetings and forums to continue to learn about many of those problems:
  • KU - 2017 Kansas Economic Policy Conference. Walling off the Kansas economy: Trade, immigration, and economic growth.
  • JOCO/WYCO Council of Mayors Legislative Dinner
  • Journey Home Foster Care Tour
  • Realtors Association Legislative Breakfast
  • Prairie Star Elementary School Cub Scouts
  • County Commissioner Dinner and Legislative Briefing
  • Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Metro KC Legislative Breakfast to learn about successful aging in our communities.
  • United Community Services (UCS) of Johnson County public policy forum on Health Equity & the Federal Budget’s impact on states.
  • UCS of Johnson County 50th Anniversary Luncheon
  • Overland Park Chamber of Commerce 50th Anniversary Luncheon and Annual Meeting

About the 28th District

Contact Joy

JoyKoesten.com

At the Capitol: 
Room 268
joy.koesten@house.ks.gov

At home in Leawood:
jkoesten@gmail.com
913-972-7883
3310 W. 137th St
Leawood, KS 66224

Voter Resources


Legislative Information

I was especially proud to catch up to our Leawood Mayor, Peggy Dunn, and Chief of Police, Troy Rettig at the UCS anniversary luncheon. Leawood was one of several cities receiving the Excellence in Community Service awards for their participation in a program that dispatches trained professionals with offices on mental health calls. These trained professionals are called co-responders and they are critical to successful intervention during a mental health crisis. While we still have a lot to do in the way of building capacity in our mental health systems across the state, this is an exciting and much needed partnership.
 
We held our last Town Hall forum of the year last Thursday. Monthly Town Hall forums will be held starting in late January. Watch your newsletter for more details about when and where. You don’t have to wait for a forum, however. You should always feel free to contact me with your questions and concerns.
 
The 2018 Legislative Session will begin on January 8th. You can review the 2018 House Legislative Calendar to give you an idea of our schedule for the spring. Below are just a few of the issues we will be tackling in the upcoming session.
 

Under the Dome
Transparency in Topeka
A recent Kansas City Star investigation revealed a disturbing level of secrecy within many levels of state government. This culture has been made worse under Gov. Sam Brownback’s leadership, and the damage is severe. There have been years of underfunded schools, state employee pensions, and infrastructure. Turnover rate is high in all of our state agencies and morale is low. The state’s foster care system has literally left kids missing, unaccounted for, and a few have even died. The Department of Commerce gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts to consultants with little oversight or results.

Sadly, these are not the only examples. There must be a change in culture and priorities within Kansas if we are to restore our state and regain the people’s trust. We began that transformation in the last session by reversing Brownback’s failed tax policies. The recent news of increases in actual and projected state revenue for the rest of this fiscal year and the next are positive signs. However, we must continue the challenging work ahead of us by properly funding schools, infrastructure, and government services, as well as bringing more openness and transparency to Topeka.
 
On the positive side, we have increased transparency in the committee process by providing live-streaming video in most committee rooms. The House and Senate floor is streamed on audio only, but I support adding live video as well. Many of these changes need to be made in the Rules of the House and Senate, which are voted on during the first few days of a new term. I can’t change the rules on my own, but I can control my own conduct and make sure you are updated on how I vote and why. Moving forward, while committee rules do not require recorded votes in committee, I commit to request my vote be recorded on all committee votes. Moreover, the best transparency I can provide to you is that I keep you informed via email, social media, and host regular public forums. And, that I answer your questions face-to-face and screen-to-screen.
For a record of my votes taken during the 2017 legislative session, click here.
 
School Finance
The House and Senate formed a joint committee to meet between sessions. The Special Committee on a Comprehensive Response to the School Finance Decision met for a few days and heard testimony from education experts on various options to respond to the multiple components of the decision. They do not have a bill yet, but I know bits and pieces of one are floating around, so I will keep you updated as things begin to gel. This will have a deep impact on the budget discussed above! By far, this will be the driving force of the session. So, stay tuned!
Over the next few weeks, as we end the year, I’ll be spending time with my family and hope you get to do the same. It is truly my pleasure and honor to serve you in the Kansas Legislature.
 
Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
Warm regards,

Representative Joy Koesten, PhD
Kansas House District 28
Serving Leawood and Overland Park


PS – if you like my newsletter, please share it with your friends!!
Copyright © 2017 Paid for by Joy for Kansas, Bob Regnier, Treasurer, All rights reserved.


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