OPINION

GUEST COLUMN: Legislative update from Topeka

Rep. Pat Proctor
Rep. Pat Proctor

Last week, the Legislature completed its “veto session,” overriding many of the governor’s vetoes and accomplishing many last-minute priorities for Kansas. I am happy to report that we won a number of victories for Leavenworth last week. I wanted to take just a moment to tell you about those issues that I worked on for you in the people’s House this session. 

When I was running to serve you, I promised that my top priority would be bringing jobs and opportunity back to Leavenworth. After the governor’s disastrous coronavirus economic shutdown, that priority became even more urgent. Job No.1 has been lowering the cost of owning and running a business so that our small business owners have the resources to rehire employees and put Kansas back to work. Earlier this session, we passed a key bill to finally bring accountability back to our property tax system. And, after years of trying, the Legislature finally eliminated arcane rules that effectively confiscated federal tax cut dollars, putting them in the state coffers instead of returning them to you. Last week, we overrode the governor’s veto to return nearly $300 million over three years to Kansas families and businesses. 

Confidence in our elections is at the very heart of our democracy. The Elections Committee, of which I am a member, has been working hard all session to improve the integrity of our elections. Last week, the Legislature overwhelmingly approved two of our measures, overriding the governor’s veto. The first will make it harder for out-of-state groups to unduly influence Kansas elections by requiring that third-party ballot request forms contain disclaimers that the form did not come from a government agency. The second measure combats ballot harvesting by limiting individuals to turning in 10 ballots or less and making it illegal for candidates to fill out or turn in mail-in ballots for voters, a practice one Democrat representative admitted on the House floor that he does every election. Whether it happens at the polling place or at a home, unduly influencing voters while they’re voting is electioneering, and we put a stop to it.

The Legislature passed a number of measures this session to help our military and veteran families, doing right by those who serve us. One, a bill that I cosponsored, allows military spouses, service members and veterans to have their professional licenses and certifications from other states recognized in Kansas. Another, a bill I sponsored, provides state matching funds for the construction of a veterans’ home in northeast Kansas. That bill was amended before passage to also include tuition waivers for dependents of public safety officers and fallen service members. And one of the last measures passed this year extends vehicle property tax exemptions, currently only available to active duty service members, to reserve component service members as well.

I am honored to serve you as your state representative. Thank you for the trust and confidence that you’ve placed in me.

Rep. Pat Proctor represents District 41 in the Kansas House of Representatives.