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STATEHOUSE: League of Women Voters' Emporia Branch begins second year of vote-tracking effort

This story was originally published by KVOE.

The League of Women Voters’ Emporia branch will be busy the next few months.

Why, you might ask? It’s tracking votes for lawmakers representing Lyon County for the second straight year.

The first weekly report can be found below.

This year’s project will track bills related to gun legislation, Medicaid expansion, voting rights, K-12 and higher education, climate change, LGBTQ issues and other major topics that emerge. Co-President Bob Grover says it’s important for this effort to be nonpartisan.

Co-President Teresa Briggs calls this a “huge venture.”

Reports will track the votes of 17th District Senator Jeff Longbine of Emporia, 60th District Representative Mark Schreiber of Emporia, 13th District Representative Duane Droge of Eureka and 76th District Representative Eric Smith of Burlington. A team involving Grover, Doug and Mary McGaw and Gail Milton will prepare the weekly reports, including a brief description in layman’s terms, status reports and lawmaker votes.

The League of Women Voters will also be involved in the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Dialogues this winter and spring. Two dates have been finalized — Feb. 18 at Flint Hills Technical College and March 18 at a location to be announced.

League of Women Voters Tracking Report issued Jan. 15, 2023

Again in 2023 the League of Women Voters of Emporia will report weekly on the Kansas Legislature and votes of Lyon County state legislators Senator Jeff Longbine and Representatives Mark Schreiber (60th District), Eric Smith (76th), and Duane Droge (13th).

Bills will be described briefly and objectively in understandable language along with a report of the local representatives’ votes Y (Yea) or N (Nay)—for example: HB123, Bill to end food sales taxes. Longbine-Y, Schreiber-Y, E Smith-N, Droge-N. These reports will be distributed weekly during the legislative session January through May.

This project is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Emporia and preparing weekly reports will be Bob Grover, Doug McGaw, Gail Milton and Mary McGaw.

Week 1 of the Kansas Legislature began January 9 with the inauguration of Governor Laura Kelly. In her inaugural address, the Governor noted the strife in our country today and called for civility: “It is civility that enables collaboration that enables compromise. And it’s compromise that enables good policy. And good policy means better opportunities for Kansans.”

Governor Kelly’s State of the State Speech has been delayed to January 24 because on Monday she tested positive for Covid-19 although she had been fully vaccinated. Thursday her office reported that subsequent tests were negative, and she was cleared to return to work in person Friday, January 13.

The Governor’s office released her Fiscal Year 2024 budget on January 12. “My budget reflects my plan to responsibly cut taxes, continue growing our economy, fully fund education, and strengthen our infrastructure and workforce,” Governor Kelly said. “We’re building a better Kansas for working families and retirees — all while maintaining a balanced budget.”

Senate President Ty Masterson (R-Wichita) said the governor’s call for political civility in the Capitol is welcome. He called for the Senate to meet the governor in the middle of the political spectrum.

Republican House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita), said “We will work across the aisle when we can.” Republicans outnumber Democrats 85-40 in the House, retaining enough seats during the November election to keep a GOP supermajority in place. With the majority of seats held by Republicans, the GOP has enough votes to override any Kelly veto. Hawkins said priorities would be water, fixing the economy and foster care, among others.

This vote tracking project will follow bills on the following topics: Gun legislation, Medicaid expansion, voting rights, school issues, climate change, higher education, LGBTQ issues, and other major issues that emerge during the session.
Legislation will be followed daily through the House and Senate journals, and the committee will prepare a summary during the weekend. Among bills introduced this week that we will follow include SB5, which would prohibit prescribing of drugs intended to cause abortion and restricts the governor’s power to alter it; SB12, The Child Mutilation Prevention Act, which would criminalize performing gender reassignment surgery; and SB 30, which would increase the Kansas standard tax deduction.

This first week of the session numerous bills were introduced and assigned to committees, but no votes were taken.