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Contact Susan

 
In Topeka:
State Capitol, Room 149-S
785-296-7644
susan@concannonforkansas.com

At home in Beloit:
921 N. Mill Street
Beloit, KS 67420
785-738-8087
susan@concannonforkansas.com


About the 107th

Committee Appointments

Dear Friend:

Welcome to the 2021 Kansas legislative session. It is redundant to say this year will be unique, but it seems around every corner, we find a new facet of our lives which COVID-19 has changed dramatically. In the case of the House, it means:
  • Every other seat is occupied instead of each desk, 
  • Some members sit in the House Gallery or the gallery behind the Speaker’s Chair, 
  • We have new voting software that allows voting on our laptops (must be in the building),
  • We have WebEx (like Zoom) option for all committee meetings,
  • Hardest of all – getting to know the new people while they wear a mask!
Personal Notes
2020 in my world meant catching up on all the projects laid aside during the legislative session. My grandsons were the main beneficiaries of this time:
My older grandsons, Burke and Carter, got Chiefs blankets (#RunItBack), Beau is reading with his, Kingston and Brooks both got "minky" ultra-soft blankets. 
Two other important updates - Craig got his first COVID vaccine shot, and Curtis got engaged!
STATE OF THE STATE

While this is normally a very formal occasion, this year’s SOTS was delivered online. Governor Kelly struck a conciliatory tone, reminding Kansans that working together shouldn’t be just a talking point but that we owe it to all Kansans to work together to get our businesses and residents through to the other side of this pandemic. 

You might recall her office developed a Framework for Growth and asked Kansans to provide their input to ensure priorities align. If you haven’t already completed the survey, do so here. The speech outlined specific initiatives included in the Framework with five key areas of focus: small businesses, infrastructure, new job creation, agriculture, and broadband.
FROM THE HOUSE FLOOR

The House and Senate passed HCR 5003, the “Value Them Both” amendment, which would amend the constitution to state the legislature has the sole power to govern abortion law in the state. The amendment will be placed on the August ’22 primary election ballot. I voted yes.
 
The House also passed a resolution (HCR 5005) honoring the hard work and resiliency of frontline workers during the Covid19 pandemic:

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION honoring the hard work and resiliency of frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHEREAS, On February 3, 2020, President Trump declared a public health emergency due to the outbreak of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, COVID-19 presents a daunting challenge that our healthcare workers, food service workers, childcare workers, transportation workers and other frontline workers face everyday; and
WHEREAS, The state of Kansas has called upon our frontline workers to serve their state during this pandemic; and
WHEREAS, Frontline workers have answered this call and carried out critical work to protect the health and safety of our communities and to minimize the disruption that COVID-19 has caused; and
WHEREAS, Kansans owe a debt of gratitude to Kansas frontline workers for their selfless service during the COVID-19 pandemic: Now, therefore,
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Kansas, the Senate concurring therein: That the State of Kansas honors the hard work and resiliency of all frontline workers who continue to serve Kansas during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
Be it further resolved: That the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives shall send three enrolled copies of this resolution to Representative Finch.
The Rules: At the beginning of each biennium (2-year legislative term), the House and Senate propose, debate, and pass the rules by which each chamber will govern themselves. The chambers also compromise, debate, and pass joint rules (HCR 5001) under which the two chambers will work together. This year’s House rules (HR 6004) include many COVID-related changes (for example, seat assignments mentioned above are part of the rules). 
  • Under this year’s rules, masks are not required to be worn by legislators, lobbyists, or visitors to the Capitol. However, the Speaker of the House has strongly encouraged it, and those refusing are required to sit away from others in the House Chamber. 
  • Committee rooms are a tighter fit, but efforts were made to reconfigure all rooms to allow for social distancing. Committees have their own rules set by the chairman, many of which do require masks. Members can attend remotely, if desired. 
SB 14: The priority for this year is to continue helping Kansans survive the pandemic and thrive beyond it. This bill extends the COVID-19 state of emergency through March 31 of this year, giving the state more flexibility with funding. The bill also extends emergency licensure for most health professions due to the increased need for vaccine delivery and hospital staff, and extends provisions expanding the use of telemedicine. It also extends business liability protections for businesses in cases of COVID exposure. It passed the Senate 34-1, the House 119-3 (I voted YES), and was signed by the governor on Monday, January 25. 
UNEMPLOYMENT ISSUES

The Kansas Department of Labor is facing huge challenges with antiquated computer systems (nearly 30 years old!) to keep up with the demand of claims while fighting fraud. This week held some rocky committee meetings with KDOL where tempers flared over the lack of appropriate response. In response, the Governor announced the systems will shut down for a few days with an entire reboot this week. I do not support shutting down the unemployment system, but I understand it will stop the bleeding of massive fraud. A bill was introduced this week to hold schools, universities, not for profits, and businesses harmless for the fraud committed. It is so important to plug this hole in the system that takes away from the folks who truly need an unemployment check.
COMMITTEE WORK

Children & Seniors
Listen Live

I am honored to again serve as Chair of this committee and intend to have a robust hearing schedule in hopes we can complete our work before a legislative COVID outbreak. We started the year with briefings from the various organizations frequently before our committee, those representing children’s and seniors’ organizations: KS Children’s Service League, Children’s Alliance, Kansas Action for Children, KS Appleseed, TFI Family Services, Boys & Girls Clubs, KVC, St. Francis Ministries, Cornerstones of Care, YMCA, and DCCCA. 
 
We hosted the Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas for an update on the state of mental health in Kansas, the Attorney General’s Office for a presentation on the Child Death Review Board, and held hearings on confidentiality exceptions to their work (HB 2062) and two other bills:
  • HB 2004 would allow a resident to appeal their involuntary discharge or transfer from an adult care facility.
  • HB 2114 would create the Kansas senior care task force.

Social Services Budget 
Listen Live

Every year begins with an overview of the work of various departments and their activities since the end of the legislative session last year. The first week, we focused on child support review. Week two was on the elderly, disabled, vocational rehabilitation, and mental health. This week we heard from the state hospitals and nursing facilities, as well as an overview of the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Please take a moment to view the video below for more information.

We wrapped up the week beginning the budget process for the departments we oversee, with a budget analysis on the departments of Health, Children & Families, and Aging & Disability Services.

Appropriations 
Listen Live

This is the House’s budget committee and this is a budget-making year, so we will be very busy. To start, we hosted hearings from the Department of Labor with a specific emphasis on unemployment claims, the website, filing process, and concerns about fraudulent claims. On the other end of the revenue spectrum, we hosted a briefing on the expanded lottery from the Lottery, Racing, and Gaming Commission, and from the state’s new Office of Recovery. 
 
We held an interesting hearing on HB 2021, which would allow the issuance bonds to fund the required match with the US Department of Veterans Affairs for the construction of a state veterans home. 
Please wear a mask and stay safe!

Sincerely,

Rep. Susan Concannon
Serving North Central Kansas
Copyright © 2021 Paid for by Concannon for Kansas, Tamarah Pruitt, Treasurer, All rights reserved.


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