Last week, two House committees examined the importance of mental health issues in Kansas. The House Children and Seniors committee heard a presentation on the Kansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center, along with an overview on the Community Health Centers across the state. The specific testimony that the Children and Seniors committee heard was regarding suicide prevention. Suicide deaths in the state of Kansas have increased by 45% from 1999 to 2016.
This committee also heard from the Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas. Currently, there are 26 licensed mental health centers across the state that service all 105 counties. The testimony that was provided stated that these Community Mental Health Centers are “the State’s public mental health safety net,” providing care to over 140,000 Kansans.
The Social Services Budget Committee was briefed on the report of the 2018 Kansas Mental Health Task Force.
This task force identified seven topics of concern regarding mental health: system transformation, maximizing Federal funding and funding from other sources, continuum of care for children and youth; nursing facilities for mental health, workforce, suicide prevention, and learning across the systems. The task force prioritzed outcomes.
Starting this week, the House Appropriations committee began with the budget reports from certain state departments agencies. On Monday, we heard the budgets of the Board of Cosmetology and the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. We continued the rest of the week by having the specific budget chairs report out the budgets for the State Historical Society, State Library, Department of Commerce, State Banking Commissioner and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, just to name a few. Overall, the committee had budget reports for 16 departments or agencies. We held bill hearings this week, as well. When comprising the entire budget, we use these reports from the budget committees. The committee also conducted a bill hearing on House Bill 2121, the overall budget bill and on Senate Bill 9, the $115 million payment to KPERS that passed the Senate last week.
Kansas Department of Transportation Press Conference
After the Kansas Legislature convened in early May of 2018, I served as a member of the Joint Legislative Transportation Task Force. This task force held numerous meetings all across the state of Kansas identifying the transportation needs of all regions and generating a new transportation ten-year plan. On Wednesday, February 13, the current secretary of Transportation, Julie Lorenz and Governor Laura Kelly announced the Kansas Department of Transportation’s plans to invest $160 million in transportation funding. The $160 million derives from reducing the amount of money transferred out of the State Highway Fund.
Secretary Lorenz outlined that with the additional $160 million in Fiscal Year 2020, KDOT will:
• Increase the highway preservation investment from $350 to $400 million
• Move forward with four delayed T-WORKS projects:
o US-54 in Seward County (Expansion project; let for construction Fall 2019)
o US-169 in Anderson County (Modernization project; let for construction Fall 2019)
o US-281 in Russell County (Modernization project; let for construction Spring 2020)
o US-50 in Lyon County (Expansion Project; let for construction Spring 2020)
• Reinstate the Kansas Local Bridge Improvement Program
• Implement a new cost-share program for state/local partnerships
• Enhance its safety program
• Increase City Connecting Link maintenance payments
• Increase funding for modal programs (e.g., transit, aviation, rail and bike/pedestrian)
Bills Passed the House
Here is a list of bills that have passed the Kansas House of Representatives during the last couple of weeks:
House Bill 2044 – This bill enacts a new income tax credit for tax years 2019 through 2023 on goods and services purchased from certain vendors or non-profit businesses that provide employment to blind or disabled individuals.
House Bill 2063 – This bill allows for the taxes levied by the Pratt Airport Tax Authority to be transferred to the city of Pratt, without approval from the voters.
House Bill 2038 – This bill automatically revokes the inheritance rights of a former spouse or their relatives in the event of a divorce or annulment.
House Bill 2039 – This bill creates a new law to require district courts to extend full faith and credit to judicial orders, judgements, and other acts of tribal courts, pursuant to the Kansas Supreme Court rules.
House Bill 2033 – This bill makes an array of changes to local sales tax authorizations, especially for the following counties: Dickinson, Finney, Jackson, Russell, and Thomas.
During final action on the House Floor, I voted “Yes” on each of these bills.
As always, if you have any concerns, feel free to contact me (785) 296-7672, follow on twitter at @waymaster4house, visit www.troywaymaster.com or email me at email@example.com. Also, if you happen to visit the statehouse, please let my office know.
It is a distinct honor to serve as your representative for the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions. I always appreciate hearing from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas, as well.
Rep. Troy L. Waymaster, 109th District, serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Born and raised in Russell, he continues today to be active in the farming operation of the family farm south of Bunker Hill today. Waymaster represents the Barton County communities of Albert, Olmitz, Galatia, Susank, Odin and Claflin.