There’s been a lot going on, even though the Legislature is not in session.
When you go to vote this November, the ballot will include a state constitutional amendment, Kansas Eliminate Revision of Census Population Amendment. After the U.S. Census is complete, the Kansas Constitution requires an additional survey and calculation to adjust for the permanent residence of military and college students. It counts the person at their permanent place of residence rather than where they are stationed or attending school. This may not seem like a big deal but it does impact our representation. The census numbers are used in establishing congressional districts, state house and senate seats, school board, county commission and other elected districts. The Secretary of State (SOS) said they pay a contractor around $800,000 for this final survey and to make adjustments. It seems to me like money well spent to get an accurate count. However, if the amendment passes it will remove the requirement to adjust for temporary residents. The SOS said that it impacted about 13,000 people in the 2010 census. Is making the census less accurate to save some money worthy of a Kansas constitutional amendment? We’ll know in November when your votes are counted.
The Kansas Supreme Court is out of control! Recently, our Attorney General had to spend time and money defending a state’s right to prosecute a person who steals or uses a false ID. Three immigrants were arrested in Kansas for using stolen Social Security numbers. The Kansas Supreme Court said they couldn't be prosecuted for breaking state law — that immigration is a federal issue. Are they serious? If you were to use a fake ID, you could be arrested and prosecuted under state law but, according to the Kansas Supreme Court, a person who broke federal law to enter our country cannot be prosecuted for breaking state identity theft laws. The U.S. Supreme Court will most likely rule on the case next spring.
This summer and fall, I have been working on several issues. One that stands out is property tax. After much analysis of our broken system, there will be several bills to address and make our property tax system more transparent. One of the ideas (proposed by an appraiser) will put a dollar amount on the valuation statement you receive. The dollar amount is on your tax bill at the end of the year but this simple change would show what the dollar amount would be if the mill levy remains the same and how the valuation change impacts your tax bill. I’ll continue to update you on legislation and what we are doing to make the property tax system more transparent and fair.
A couple of weeks ago, Kansas Wildlife and Parks announced to the Joint Committee on Rules and Regulations that it is suspending the Fall 2020 turkey hunt for almost two-thirds of the state, and the Spring 2020 hunt will have a one-bird limit. I requested a copy of the data used to make this decision. The committee has yet to receive the information. Hunting and fishing is a multi-million dollar industry and important to the Kansas economy.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.