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Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich

Summer Update

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July!!  We had a great time at the Lake Sherwood 4th of July celebration on Wednesday!  Thank you to all of the volunteers and families who helped along the route!

This has been a very busy summer organizing for the campaign season, attending meetings and events throughout the community, working on some legislative issues and bill drafts in preparation for the next session, and helping constituents with a variety of requests. 
 

In the Community

I participated in HB 2470 bill signing in front of Westar on Kansas Ave. with Governor Colyer which, among other things, allows a new Topeka Business, “Brew Bank”, to start operations.

I attended the Greater Topeka Small Business Awards at the Capitol Plaza. Congratulations to:
  • Let’s Help, Inc. (Non-profit Award)
     
  • Bowser Johnson Funeral Chapel (Minority Business Award)
     
  • Happy Bassett Brewing (Emerging Entrepreneur Award)
     
  • Century Business Technologies (Women Business of Distinction)
     
  • TK Business Magazine (Small Business Advocate)
     
  • Schendel Lawn and Landscape  (Capital City Business of Distinction)
I was honored to be present for the dedication of the Brown v. Board Mural outside the Old Supreme Court Room on the 3rd floor of the Capitol.  This mural is a magnificent visual testament to an important piece of our state and nation’s history.



I served Brunch at Let’s Help with my Rotary Club, Topeka South Rotary.  We always have a great time doing our small part to help individuals and families in need.   Love those aprons and hairnets, too!





On Thursday, June 21, I celebrated with my fellow Boy Scout Board members at the Ramada to honor the 2018 Distinguished Citizens, Larry and Anita Wolgast.  It was a grateful community that recognized such an outstanding civic minded couple. A huge “thank you” to the Wolgasts!



Friday, June 22nd was the National Teachers Hall of Fame Induction at Emporia State University.  Five teachers were inducted from Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, California and KANSAS! Our own Jeff Baxter, the 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year, was inducted. Here is the class of 2018!  Jeff Baxter is the second from the left.

US Army War College
National Security Seminar


It was my honor to be selected to attend the USAWC National Security Seminar in June.   I was one of 160 business, government, academic and community leaders selected from across the country to take part in the week-long academic seminar alongside the resident students of the Army War College.  We engaged in discussions with the next generation of senior leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces and had presentations from Ambassadors, Admirals, Generals, and award-winning correspondents.  It was a phenomenal experience with international officers and leaders from all branches of the Armed Forces.  In the picture below, the front row are the civilians who participated in our group (Seminar 16) and the others are the students (mostly Colonels and Lt. Colonels).  At the conclusion, we received a Certificate of Leader Development.



 

At the Capitol

At the Capitol
I am serving on several committees that are meeting throughout the summer and into the fall. They are:
  • Governor’s Education Council, which was established by Executive Order 18-10 in March of 2018.  We are divided into sub-committees that meet outside of the larger Council’s quarterly meetings and my sub-committee is researching and making recommendations on College and Workforce Preparedness.  Per the Executive Order, we are to make a report to the Governor each year by December. Our next meeting as a Council is in September.
  • Dyslexia Task Force.  I introduced the Dyslexia Task Force bill this past session, which is Substitute for HB 2602, in the Education Committee, when it became clear by the frustrated parents who testified that we need to do much more at an earlier stage for students who are clearly struggling with reading that tends to manifest itself in phonological deficiencies.  This task force is going to recommend evidence-based reading practices to address dyslexia, research and recommend professional development activities, and identify valid and reliable screening and evaluation assessments that can be used in order to identify children with reading difficulties at the earliest ages.  We are on a fast track to complete our work by January 2nd and our first meeting is July 12th.
  • National Conference of State Legislatures Education Finance Fellows.  The Speaker appointed me as an Education Finance Fellow, primarily because of my background as a school district Superintendent who understands school finance.  This is a group of legislators and researchers who meet twice each year to look at how states are financing public education, how they use research to make decisions, and what the current research tells us about education funding and student outcomes. Our next meeting is in July.
Other Legislative Activities
  • Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, Youth Civic Leadership Institute. On July 12th we will host over 60 high school seniors from across the state at the Capitol.  Several legislators have volunteered to facilitate the student groups. Our role is to talk to them about our own civic involvement and public service in order to encourage them to focus on civic engagement, public service, and leadership opportunities in their own communities. 
  • BILLD Fellow.  Three Kansas Legislators were selected to attend the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development sponsored by the Council of State Governments, Midwestern Conference.  I am honored to be one of those selected.  We will be traveling to Minneapolis in August to learn more about the Legislative process and how we can be exceptionally thoughtful legislators who add value at every opportunity.

Legislative Issues

Supreme Court School Finance Decision
January 25, 2018

Here is the good news.  The Supreme Court said the Legislature can restore suitable school funding if it takes inflation into consideration in its calculations.  The court accepted the method (formula) for calculating constitutionally suitable funding.  They found no issues with the equity portion of the formula which we corrected this past session. The decision is very measured in its scope, and narrow in terms of what we have been ordered to do.  The court was deferential to the legislature’s work, accepting the premise of the plan:
  1. Use the terms set out in the Montoy settlement as a baseline,
     
  2. Adjust for inflation moving forward, and
     
  3. Apply it to the current formula and student headcount.
The court simply identified a weakness in the timeline of the inflation adjustments. We can correct this next session within our existing resources.
 

Internet Sales Tax


South Dakota v. Wayfair.  You may have heard about this in the news.  The U.S Supreme Court ruled that states can require internet retailers to charge sales tax in some circumstances, even if they have no physical property or employees in the state.
This decision opens the door for states to tax internet purchases.  Many see this as having a positive impact on our state’s ability to restore our pension plan (KPERS), reinvest in T-Works projects (roads and bridges), invest in the child welfare system and mental health programs, and….consider a tax reduction, such as lowering the sales tax on food.  This is an issue that will have to be researched and good data compiled and analyzed so that we make prudent decisions that are in the best interests of all Kansans. 

Sports Betting


Murphy v. NCAA.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of betting on sports, and allowed the decision to be left to the individual states.   More than 15 states have either passed or introduced sports betting laws in preparation for this decision.  A bill was introduced in the House last session which would have created the Kansas Sports Wagering Act, authorizing the Kansas Lottery to allow sports betting in Kansas, but it did not become law.
I expect this legislation to be updated and reintroduced at the beginning of the 2019 session.
 
As with any policy topic, there are lawmakers on both sides of the issue. Some have a moral opposition to gambling, others are concerned about disrupting existing gaming terms, while some are supportive. I remain open-minded and look forward to learning much more about the issues that need to be addressed before moving forward.
 

VOTE!

Elections are extremely important and have tremendous consequences.  When you choose not to vote, you double the value of another’s vote. You have options - vote by mail (helpful if you will be on vacation August 7), or go to the pollsIn-person advance voting begins July 23. In either case, you should check to ensure you are registered to vote – the deadline for new registration or to change your address is July 17. Primary election day is Tuesday, August 7. For unbiased information about candidates in your area, visit KanVote.com/learn.

I do not have a Primary opponent, but I do have a Democrat opponent in the General Election.  I will be distributing yard signs next week (tentatively around July 13th).  If we had you on our sign list in 2016, we’ll deliver a sign (or more if you want!) and ask that you keep them in your yards until Election Day, August 7th.  We will put them back out in October prior to the General Election.

There is much more work to be done in 2019 and it would be my honor to continue to serve you as your Representative in the 52nd District.  I take my responsibility to you seriously.

Please consider a donation to my campaign.  There are two easy ways to contribute.  To make an online donation, visit my website at https://www.kansansforbrenda.com/checkout2/ or you are welcome to send checks to:
 
Kansans for Brenda
6110 SW 38th Terrace
Topeka, KS   66610
 
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, comments, or concerns regarding the issues facing our community and our state.  It is my honor to serve and represent you at the Capitol.

If you or your friends would like to receive my Legislative up-dates, you can click here or visit my website at http://kansansforbrenda.com, and enter your email address in the space provided on the right side.

Contact Brenda

Room 166-W
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66610
Phone: 785 296-7648
Email Brenda


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