Greetings from the newly dedicated Kansas Statehouse. We are beginning to pick up steam as we’ve now closed out the third week of the session and headed into February. Committees have been meeting hearing bills, and will now start working bills, considering amendments and passing certain bills out of committee for consideration by the whole House.
I was honored last week to be asked to chair a subcommittee on juvenile justice. Our task is to look at evidence based solutions that will reduce the number of young people in state’s custody, keep young offenders from re-offending and ultimately reduce the need for as much state funding in this area. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to explore these issues and find workable solutions.
Last week, I also was appointed to a special subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee that is tasked with looking at our current “one judge per county” rule. This rule requires that each county in Kansas have one judge assigned and living there. As population trends have changed in the state, we now see a greater need for judges in certain areas of the state while others have a smaller case load and less demand for services. A careful reallocation of some of those judicial resources could be as valuable as adding 22 new judges to the system without costing any additional dollars to the public.
In other news, last week we saw the dedication ceremony for the Kansas Statehouse, which was well attended and featured speeches from leadership and historical re-enactors. There was even a 21-gun salute from cannons on the south lawn. It was a grand celebration for a grand building. I highly encourage you to come see the building and stop by my office if you find yourself in Topeka.
I was fortunate enough to have two great pages last week from Ottawa Middle School, Alli Kerns and Katie Frank. They did a fantastic job and represented their school very well. I also met with Commissioner Gaylord Anderson of the Osage County Commission at the Osage County Republican Women’s meeting and Franklin County Commissioner Steve Harris joined me on the floor of the house when he came to Topeka to testify before a senate committee.
As things are heating up, I encourage you to keep tabs on the mortgage registration fee debate. The outcome of this debate could have significant financial impacts for Franklin and Osage Counties. The bill is SB 298. It would repeal the fee which would cost Franklin County about $250,000 and Osage County about $150,000. The debate on this bill is only beginning and will be one to watch.
I am ever thankful for the opportunity to serve you in the Kansas House and proud to say I am your representative.
Blaine Finch is a Kansas House member, representing Franklin County.