Greetings from the Statehouse.


As I write to you the weather has taken a turn for the snowy and cold but things continue to warm up in the capitol. We have had a couple of busy weeks as most of the action is in committees on both sides of the dome.


A few weeks ago we unveiled the “Make Kansas Work Plan.” This five-bill package addresses a number of needs I have heard from many of you. From encouraging young people to come home to Kansas and start a life, to reducing the tax penalty for seniors who want to continue to work, to promoting innovation and helping our rural hospitals, removing obstacles for those who want to work, and helping develop our workforce by giving every Kansas graduate a path to a job in a high demand field, this plan is designed to help make our state work for the people of Kansas.


The Kansas Promise Act (HB 2515) was heard last week in the House Commerce Committee and was worked out of committee this week. This bill would provide scholarships for Kansas graduates who agree to attend community college, tech school, or trade school in one of 10 high demand areas where the state needs skilled workforce. These students would work or donate some time for community service while in school and agree to remain and work in Kansas for two years upon completion of their education. I look forward to seeing the bill on the floor in the near future.


The Kansas First Time Homebuyer Act (HB 2516) was heard in House Rural Revitalization Committee this week and will be worked in the coming days. It allows for Kansans to save some money each year in tax deductible savings accounts. Similar to educational 529 plans, these accounts can be used for down payments and closing costs for a first-time home purchase or construction. The bill allows parents to save for their children, or members of a community to join together to create an account to help recruit a teacher, doctor, or other needed profession to their community.


Next week the House Appropriations Committee will hear HB 2522 creating the Rural Healthcare Innovation Fund. This fund creates a public/private partnership to help rural communities determine what health care needs exist in their communities and get ahead of the curve to make changes that will allow them to deliver care in the future. By leveraging private dollars with some public investment, we can help communities develop unique solutions that are tailored to their specific situations.


In other news this week I was honored to attend a Department of Commerce ceremony awarding CDBG grants which included $421,000 for the City of Williamsburg for street improvements. We hosted the Franklin County Leadership Class for their day at the capitol. I heard from dedicated advocates from the SOS, Care Center and Willow Domestic Violence Center on their work to help survivors of domestic violence, and met with members of the team at COF Services to hear about their advocacy on behalf of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


It remains my honor to serve as your representative in Topeka. If I can be of help to you, please do not hesitate to reach out. My email is blaine.finch@house.ks.gov and my phone number is 785-291-3500.