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Honor Flight Day, veterans headed to DC!
Senator Elaine Bowers
R-Concordia

Capitol Office

Room: 223-E
Seat: 33
Phone: 785-296-7389
Email: Elaine.Bowers@senate.ks.gov

Home Information

1326 N. 150th Road
Concordia, KS 66901
Phone: 785-243-4256
Email:elaine@concordiaautomart.com

About the 36th District


Map of the 36th District
Demographic Profile
Counties Served: Cloud, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, Ottawa, Republic, Rooks, Russell, Smith, Washington and parts of Marshall and Phillips.
 

Committees

Vice-Chair, Financial Institutions & Insurance
Senate Select Committee on KPERS
Public Health and Welfare
Capitol Preservation Committee
Agriculture
Rep. Troy Waymaster and I joined ElDean Holthus with Michael Martin Murphy, who headlined the fundraiser for the Home on Range highway signs. We met our goal and the signs will be unveiled soon!

The Bowers Bulletin

Senate Scene - 2015 Kansas Senate Wrap-up
 
On the 113th day of session, June 12, 2015 (known now as the longest session on record) the Senate and House reached a compromise on a tax proposal.  Session officially ended on June 26th Sine Die, with the ceremonial closing. There were a total of 311 Senate bills introduced; 39 to date signed by the Governor, 1 vetoed, 1 line-item vetoed, 19 Senate bills killed in the Senate and 13 Senate bills killed in the House.  Of the remaining 238 Senate bills carried over into the 2016 session; 162 of these are still in Senate committees, 54 in House committees, 15 remaining on the Senate calendar and 7 on the House calendar.  
 
The Kansas Senate approved HB 2109, which was the tax proposal debated for nearly a month.  For weeks the Legislature was at an impasse on tax policy determining which way the state should approach the $400 million shortfall in state revenue that is currently required to balance our state budget.  Sadly, much of the policy was crafted on the Senate floor skipping the usual committee hearing process with testimony from people across the state – both pro and con.  

When an issue is truly vetted through the House and Senate committees, floor votes and finally a conference committee, then we can then say we worked together for the best bill possible.  HB2109 passed with a vote of 21-17.  I was a NO vote - believing that is the wrong way to pass legislation especially such a large tax policy from amendments (no hearings) and more options could’ve been possible. Often times with rushed policy, a trailer bill is required to repair portions of the bill and in this case, two bills SB270 and HB2142 needed to be debated and passed.  These bills included restoring the food sales tax rebate program which provides approximately $15 million in credits for the working poor. 

Beginning in 2016, an estimated 388,000 low income Kansans will be excluded from paying income taxes, for example, a married couple earning $24,500, a single parent making $17,250 or a single person making $10,250 would pay zero income tax.  Also included in the tax plan is a delay in the property tax date to 2018 and cities would not have to hold a mandatory election if the taxes were triggered by new infrastructure, certain property taxes for bonds and interest and certain road construction costs.  The Rural Opportunity Zones will be extended to 2022 under this tax plan as well. 

Legislative Leaders have publically committed to exploring ways of lowering the sales tax on food next year which was removed in the conference committee process for this year’s tax bill.  Hearings were also promised to take a look at taxing business entities which was lowered to zero in the 2012 tax bill.  It is interesting to note that seventy-one percent of the 2012 tax cuts went to individuals with twenty-nine percent to businesses.  
I was fortunate to visit the Pentagon with the Council of State Governments Toll Fellows Program.
Budget 
Senate Bill 112 (SB 112) contains the remaining 43% of the proposed two-year budget. The Judicial budget and education budget that makes up the remaining 57% of the state budget were passed at an earlier date.  Some of the budget policies agreed to include a 25% cut to state executives’ travel, a 50% cut on advertising and subscriptions to all state agencies except the Judiciary, the Regents, and the State Libraries. The Budget will also hold tuition at state run universities to current levels with a 2% increase except for those universities that’s tuition is less than $2,000 a semester. It will also continue fund the construction of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Lab at the Washburn campus. The committee found $15 million in various savings for FY 2016 and $30-35 million from FY 2017. Core services such as public safety and care for the most vulnerable were a priority for negotiations on both sides.  The budget passed the Senate with a vote of 23 to 11. For more information on the State Budget visit: http://li.kliss.loc/li/b2015_16/measures/sb112/

Kansas Legislative Website
The Kansas Legislature has an excellent website at http://www.kslegislature.org/li/ where you can find calendars, past Senate and House journals, bills, statutes & legislation, legislators and general information about the Kansas Legislature.  The Research Department tab covers all the legislation from the 2015 Session in a Summary of Legislation by topic and committees.  The Research Department has been providing nonpartisan, objective research and fiscal analyses since 1934.

Anti-Human Trafficking Bill
Senate Bill 113 (SB 113) contains provisions to combat human trafficking in our state. The bill will allow victims of human trafficking the opportunity to bring civil suits against those who caused them harm and allows the Kansas Attorney General’s Office the prosecutorial right to pursue these cases. The Attorney General’s Office would be allowed to seek attorney fees and costs. All other damages would be awarded directly to the victim. The Senate passed SB 113 unanimously with a vote of 37-0. 
 
Veterans 
The 2015 legislative session was successful for Veterans’ issues.  We passed good policy that will make it easier for veterans to become more involved in the work force after their service and will help veterans and their families return to school.  HB 2154 allows private employers to adopt a hiring policy that gives preference to a veteran who meets the requirement of the job.  This bill also grants in-state tuition to veterans and their family members who are attending post-secondary institutions in Kansas.  The legislature also passed HR 6026, which urges Congress to enact the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015.  This would establish in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs a national center for research on the health conditions of descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxic substances with unknown consequences with serving the U.S. Armed Forces.  Veterans’ issues are very important to me and I am glad I was able to help pass this legislation that makes it easier for veterans and their families to return to Kansas and helps protect the health of those who served.  
 
Senate Appointment 
On May 21, 2015, The Kansas Senate confirmed Commissioner Jay Emler for a four year term to the Kansas Corporation Commission.  Jay was appointed to this position in January 2014 by Governor Brownback to fill a vacancy.  Commissioner Emler previously served in the Kansas Senate where he was elected Senate Majority Leader. He represented the 35th District in central Kansas for 13 years which included Lincoln County. Emler also served as Chairman of both Ways and Means and Utilities committees. Prior to the Senate, he was Vice President and General Counsel for Kansas Cellular. He is the past national Chairman of the Council on State Governments.  
 
Interns and Pages
The Kansas Legislature will have internships available for the 2016 Legislative Session. Any student who is enrolled in a secondary or post-secondary education institution and will be earning credit for their learning experience or is making academic progress in their educational course of study is eligible to apply. No specific major is required, but strong oral and written communication skills and a basic understanding of government and the legislative process are helpful. Internships will begin on January 11th on the first day of the 2016 Legislative Session and end in April.  Interns are required to attend a minimum of 12 days during the legislative session. Legislative internships are non-paid positions; however, legislative interns who complete program requirements are eligible for up to $600 in mileage reimbursement.   Please call or email me and I can help with the application process.   I have had wonderful interns in the past including Laura Hansen, Concordia, Kansas National Guard Major Murl Riedel, Tipton, Kansas Air Force Reserve 2nd Lt. Jody McCready Cope, Chapman, Katie Krug, Russell and Zach Lowry, Stockton.  
 
Pages dates are assigned to us by the third week of January from the Page office in the Capitol.  The Page program is designed for students in middle school, junior high or the first years of high school. Please email me and I will save the students names over the summer and fall and be ready to fill the slots as soon as we receive the dates from the page supervisors.  I was a page for Rep. Bill Fuller from Miltonvale in 1980 as a student at Minneapolis High School and still have my black and white picture with Bill and Governor Graves along with my friend from Delphos, Heather Hurtig.
Tours at the Capitol
A new display in the Visitor Center in the State Capitol features Kansans as proud Americans who had a part in the victory for the United States and allies.  Featured in the display are a deck of military playing cards, a helmet worn by a crew member of a Boeing B-29 and a short coat dubbed the “Ike jacket” which was a waist length uniform jacket named after General Eisenhower.  Also highlighted in the display are military uniforms of a Rooks County sister and brother, Emma and Ray Snavely of Woodston.  Ray was part of the Army signal corps stationed on the Aleutian Islands and returned home after the war to operate a terracing company.   The Army Nurse Corp seersucker jumpsuit uniform in the same display case was worn by Emma while she was serving in France in 1944.  She died overseas in 1945.  
The exhibit is part of the 70th anniversary commemoration of Victory in Europe and with be displayed throughout the summer.  The hours of the Visitor Center are Monday through Friday 8AM-5PM with guided historical tours and Saturday until 12:00 with no scheduled tours.    
Off Session Contact Information
The 2016 Kansas Legislative Session will begin January 11, 2016 when we will be back in our offices in Topeka.  Over the summer and fall, I can be reached at my legislative email at elaine.bowers@senate.ks.gov or my work email elaine@concordiaautomart.com.  My work address in Concordia is 212 E. 6th St., Concordia, KS  66901 and if you are in Concordia, drop by.   My daytime work number is 785 243-3325x2 or email me questions, concerns or ideas for legislative bills for the next session.  It is an honor to serve you in the 36th Kansas Senate District and please feel free to contact me anytime.
Sincerely,
Senator Elaine Bowers

Kansas State Capitol Building
Room 223-E
300 SW 10th St.
Topeka, KS  66612 
elaine.bowers@senate.ks.gov
785 296-7389
www.kslegislature.org
Copyright © 2015 Paid for by Elaine Bowers for Kansas Senate, Shea McMillan, Treasurer, All rights reserved.


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