On Jan. 7, there was a legislative coffee at the Ottawa City Hall, the first of the new year.
These meetings represent an opportunity to meet our Kansas legislators face-to-face the first Saturday each month while the legislature is in session. They are sponsored by the Farm Bureau Association, the legislative action committee of the Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion.
We had a party and nobody came. Only the legislators. Their attendance was perfect. State Reps. Bill Feuerborn, TerriLois Gregory, Bill Otto and Willie Prescott, along with Sens. Pat Apple and Jeff King, made presentations and answered questions. The program was moderated by Almeda Edwards.
There was a sparse crowd of perhaps 24 citizens. Media coverage was provided by KOFO and the local cable channel. There was no print media representation.
The coming legislative session will have great impact on the economy and Franklin County. People better start paying attention. The governor has announced plans to change the school funding by freezing state aid and allowing each school district to increase their funding through unlimited local option taxes approved by voters. This might have a profound effect on local property taxes. All our elected officials seem to have a full understanding of the impact that legislation would have on their constituents.
The information flows both ways. The legislators seemed somewhat surprised by the effect the governor’s plan for Medicaid funding may have on the elderly, the disabled and the mentally ill. The proposed KanCare plan is a managed care model that will be administered by out-of-state insurance companies and change the way health care is delivered in Kansas. This model failed 25 years ago and, although the promise is for no change in reimbursement to doctors and hospitals, there is no way to save money by adding a new set of middlemen.
There also were questions about the problems of the under-funded KPERS program, the effect of Boeing’s departure from Wichita, the legislature’s drain on the highway fund and the condition of the capital dome.
I urge everyone to become involved and attend these worthwhile sessions. We are a nation of sheep. We must become informed about the agendas of our elected officials in Topeka as well as Washington.
— Dr. Bud Gollier, Ottawa