Back to Top

Week 6 Newsletter

The Kansas Legislature wrapped up week six with significant committee work and important votes on the House floor. Many of the bills were technical in nature, but the House did vote to to send the Governor a bill making the long overdue KPERS payment in SB 9. It passed the House and Senate Unanimously. This payment of $115M will save the state nearly $24K per day in interest. The payment was to be made if there was an ending balance and indeed, the state ended last fiscal year with a $300+M ending balance. I was proud to support this bill. It is my hope the Governor chooses to sign it.

The House Corrections Committee heard HB 2282 this week. This bill would abolish the Death Penalty in Kansas and create the crime of Aggravated Murder which carries a true Life in prison without parole sentence. Talk about a tough subject. There are so many moral, ethical and emotional arguments for and against. There are some crimes that are so heinous it only seems right that someone should be put to death for pain they inflicted on others. This punishment has been carried out since civilization began. While Kansas has not put someone to death since 1965, law enforcement has testified that is a tool in their tool box that they want to keep. Today, the Committee voted to let the death penalty remain in place. The vote was split evenly, 6 to 6 and the chair cast the final dissenting vote.

After much prayer and consideration, I voted to keep the death penalty in place in Kansas. It was the Absolute hardest vote of my tenure thus far. I cannot in good conscience allow people such as the Carr Brothers and Justin Thurber to be released from the sentence a jury of their piers handed down. While this bill indicates it would only take effect on cases being heard after July 1, 2019, other states have held it to apply retrospectively once the law passes.

The Higher Education Budget was heard in the House Committee of Appropriations this week. While higher education costs continue to increase as does the amount of debt college students are carrying, the public universities continue to see increases in their budgets. The 2019 budget for all public colleges and universities was increased by nearly $150 Million with $33 Million coming from the state general fund. It is proposed for their 2020 budget that they receive another increase from the state general fund to the tune of $21 Million. One question comes to mind: Where is the corresponding decrease in tuition and fees? Our tax money funds the state general fund yet parents and children are still responsible for the ever increasing amount of tuition and fees. Something doesn’t sound right about this. I voted against their budget, however it passed for now. More to come on this topic.

Earlier this week I had the honor to carry my first bill on the floor of the Kansas House of Representatives. HB 2104 codifies the work done by the Kansas Judicial Council in ensuring those charged and convicted of a DUI have been done so in a manner consistent with the Kansas Constitution. This was a straight forward bill that passed resoundingly, but not without a little fun hazing of a new freshman. Both Republican Leo Delperdang and Democrat John Carmichael took turns giving me a hard time by playing “stump the chump” from the well. It wasn’t to bad, but I assure there will be time for paybacks.

There are a few hot topics floating around the Capital this week. Committee votes on wind energy zoning requirements and the Farm Bureau health plan are expected this week. Hopefully that means we will debate them on the floor next week.

Speaking of next week, we spend nearly all week on the floor debating bills. If your interested in more information throughout the week, follow me on:

Please let me know if you have any concerns or topics of interest. I would be happy to visit with you. It is truly an honor to be your Representative.

Until next week,
Rep. Stephen Owens
PH: (785) 296-7500

Committee to Elect Stephen Owens,
Gloria Arrellano, Treasurer
Powered by - Political Websites
Close Menu