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Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich

As the 2019 Legislative Session is set to convene on Monday, January 14, I wanted to thank all of you for your support during the General Election and to share some information about the up-coming session.

Leadership Team in the House

All new and returning House members met on Monday, December 3, 2018 in the House Chamber to vote on leadership positions that will be in place for the next two years.  The leadership team is important because we are often faced with serious challenges that require tough compromises.  The best policies are typically derived from respectful collaboration and thoughtful discourse and our leaders are key to reaching reasonable solutions. Here are the results of our elections.
Speaker of the House:  Rep. Ron Ryckman (Olathe)
Majority Leader:  Rep. Dan Hawkins (Wichita)
Speaker Pro Tempore:  Rep. Blaine Finch (Ottawa)
Asst. Majority Leader:  Rep. Les Mason (McPherson)
Majority Whip:  Rep. Blake Carpenter (Derby)
Caucus Chair:  Rep. Susan Humphries (Wichita)

House Membership

When the Legislature convenes on Jan. 14, 2019, there will be 24 brand new members in the House, with 3 additional members having served in the House before and then re-elected after a short break in service.  The make-up will include 84 Republicans and 41 Democrats.  Within the Republican Caucus there is a slightly more conservative leaning than in 2016.

Committee Assignments

I am very pleased to share with you that I will serve on 4 Committees in the House and one Joint Committee of the House and Senate.

9:00 a.m. M-W – Financial Institutions and Pensions.  I have been on this committee for 2 years and we focus on policies involving the state retirement plan (KPERS) and regulatory issues with banks and credit unions.

9:00 a.m. T-Th – Veterans.  This is a new committee for me.  It deals with any issues impacting our veterans in Kansas. I am excited to serve on this committee and to track military and veterans issues.

1:30 p.m. daily – Education.  I am Vice-Chair of this Committee which will deal with Education Policy and this will be my 3rd year on the Committee. Education will continue to be a key focus for the legislature and will handle all education policy directed at our schools.  I look forward to the opportunity to help our schools through good policy that honors local control.

3:30 p.m. daily – K-12 Education Budget.  This committee was formed in 2017 to craft the new school finance formula.  The committee will continue to meet and will probably analyze the many different components of the current formula and debate any changes or modifications. There is an issue that still must be addressed.  The good news is, when the Supreme court ruled in 2018, they recognized the good work done by the 2018 Legislature to make our school funding formula both adequate and equitable.  They recommended one adjustment to make our formula constitutional, which is to adjust our funding by inflation or CPI (Consumer Price Index) now…..rather than waiting until 2023.  The formula already includes an inflation adjustment.  The court says that we need to do it now, rather than wait several years.  That is not unreasonable.  We are so close to a solution, we can finish the job this session if we can stay focused on doing what’s best for our Kansas students.

House and Senate Joint Committee on Pensions and Benefits – I was appointed by the Speaker to serve on this committee and I am pleased to participate.  Meetings are scheduled by the Chair (Rep. Steven Johnson) when he deems it appropriate.

Other responsibilities

Dyslexia Task Force Vice-Chair.  The Task Force met several times and completed its work on Jan. 10th.  A report to the Governor, Legislature, and Kansas State Board of Education has been finalized and the results will be shared and actions taken during this next session.  There are concrete recommendations that are primarily the responsibility of the State Board of Education to implement.

Governor’s Education Council – Member.  Governor Colyer created this Council by Exec. Order in 2018. We have completed our report and recommendations on how we can build partnerships and reduce obstacles to provide technical education opportunities all across Kansas in order to create a more skilled workforce.

To learn more about all Legislative Committees, visit www.kslegislature.org and click on the Committees tab. 

State Revenues

The state is no longer deficit spending and will have an ending balance that will allow us to focus our dollars on strategic investments that will help Kansas grow.  The state is halfway through the current fiscal year, FY 2019, and continues to have a revenue stream that is above estimates for the year.  Now that we are not constantly in the red, we have opportunities to consider meaningful tax policy that supports Kansas families.   The Governor’s Budget, which we will learn more about after the State of the State address on Jan. 16th, will guide our deliberations.

Contact Information

Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can do for you.  I am honored to represent you in the Kansas Legislature.  During the session you can reach me in my new office location…..165-W (1st floor, west wing).   My office phone number is still 785-296-7648.
Representative Brenda S. Dietrich
Statehouse Office:
Room 165-W
State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: 785-296-7648
brenda.dietrich@house.ks.gov

Home:
6110 SW 38th Terrace
Topeka, Kansas 66610
Phone: 785-221-3853
dietrbre@gmail.com

Contact Brenda

Room 165-W
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66610
Phone: 785 296-7648
Email Brenda


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