OPINION

LETTER: Legislative process

Tom Bishop/Leavenworth

To the editor:

It is most important to respond to the letter published in the May 1 edition from Terry Rogers. Ms. Rogers spent considerable time outlining the Kansas legislative process and how to find legislative details, clearly to contrast the performance of Rep. Pat Proctor (R) and Sen. Jeff Pitman (D). This was to imply that there was no work completed, or effort offered, by Sen. Pittman to serve his constituents or Kansans.

To really discover the truth, as Terry Rogers suggests, it is imperative that you understand that Republicans hold a majority in both the House and Senate in Kansas. They are in leadership of both chambers. Thus, they completely control the calendars in all House and Senate committees where legislation is introduced, heard and acted upon to send to the Senate floor for action. 

As a result, bills introduced by Democrats do not get scheduled for debate or a vote. This would be the case for all bills introduced by Sen. Pittman regardless of his earnest efforts to have his bills heard and acted upon.

This was the case when I served in the Kansas House of Representatives during the early 1990s when Democrats were in the majority for two years. I also served with a true Leavenworth gentleman, Rep. Clyde Graeber, who I considered a good friend from the other side of the aisle. During those years, and the decades prior, there was more willingness for members of both parties to work together for the common good of Kansas citizens.

I am very pleased that Rogers’ letter shows how to get to the Legislature website (www.kslegislature.org) to see what Sen. Pittman worked on to move forward this past session. These bills include:

- SB 76 – Establishing the golden years homestead property tax freeze act to provide a refund for certain increases in property taxes

- SB 108 – Creating the veterans’ benefit lottery game funds and transferring moneys to veterans’ service programs

- SB 109 – Requiring the Kansas commission on veterans’ affairs office to submit an initial application for a VA state veterans’ home construction grant

- SB 110 – Authorizing the issuance of bonds for the construction of a state veterans’ home

- SB 135 – Providing membership in the KP&F retirement system for security officers in the Department of Corrections

You can read and review these bills on the legislative website. These are but a few of the bills sponsored by Sen. Pittman for the benefit of Leavenworth and Kansas.

During my time in the Legislature, I had the unusual opportunity to serve in both the majority and the minority representing House District 91. I experienced the ability to introduce and pass bills when in the majority while not being allowed to do so as a minority member. What sometimes occurred and still occurs to this day is the good minority party ideas are adopted by the majority party and introduced by them as their bills, but they change the bill titles and numbers. That is how the system works.

It is important to remember that Sen. Pittman is working hard to provide constituent services, as should others you have elected. This includes helping you deal with state agencies, manage state regulations and reporting and scores of other items. Call or write these persons to share your concerns, ideas and issues. And please realize that they, with very few exceptions, work hard for you.