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Dear Friend,

As we start this new session of the Kansas Legislature in 2020, I again want to reiterate how grateful I am for this opportunity to represent you, as well as our amazing communities, schools, hospitals, and law enforcement in the Kansas House of Representatives.
In this newsletter I wanted to give you an update of the activities I have been involved with this past Fall in the Kansas Legislature. I have had the opportunities to serve on 2 Interim Committees in October/November. 

  1. I was asked to sit on the Interim Committee on Natural Resources as we were updated on the recovery efforts of the flood of 2019—including levee reconstruction and ongoing concerns about repeated flooding this Spring. I also learned how we will start discussions with MoDOT and many stakeholders to consider roadbed elevation of US 59 from the Y through the bottoms. This will be a long process. 
  2. I also sat on the Interim Committee that discussed the status of Medical Marijuana especially in light of surrounding state laws. This committee also discussed a constitutional amendment to provide sole legislative oversight for restrictions on abortion. These were very important deliberations and will likely lead to significant legislation in this session. 

If you find yourself in Topeka, please call or email so we can plan to meet up. My office is 352-S. I am there intermittently between committees and meetings. I currently serve on Federal and State Affairs, Health And Human Services, and Taxation committees. My assistant is Kay Foster and my office # at the Capitol is (785)-296-8641. Call and schedule a time. That works much better than just showing up.

Representative John Eplee

Kansas State Legislature
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Doniphan County
Atchison County

Contact Doc Eplee
At the Capitol:
300 SW 10th St., 512-N
Topeka, KS 66612

At home in Atchison:
163 Deer Run
Atchison, KS 66002
On Wednesday 1/15, Diane Liebsch (VP of USD 409 School Board) stopped by my office to discuss ‘At risk funding’ and ‘SPED funding’ in the K-12 funding formula and the importance of maintaining those funds as set forth by the Supreme Court last Summer in it’s ruling. She has a marvelous fund of knowledge from teaching in the Public and more recently and an administrator in the Catholic school systems in Atchison.
On September 14th I was ask to give a legislative update for the Doniphan Co Farm Bureau. There is a lot excitement over the new Farm Bureau Health Coverage Plan that we passed in 2019 session. Several thousand members have already applied and been approved. This coverage will definitely drive down the cost of health care premiums.
On November 13th/14th Debbie and I traveled out to Fowler, Kansas to visit Boyd and Sandy Orr. Boyd is the State Representative from Southwest Kansas in District 115. We were able to tour Boyd’s feedlot—Fowler Feeders. It is an amazing operation with an average census of 21,000 head of cattle. It utilizes solar energy and a very impressive feeding system.
We also were able to see a very large wind turbine array of several hundred windmills. These renewable windmills have provided a big economic stimulus to this area and with no environmental impact. Boyd and Sandy were wonderful hosts and showed us a great time. At the time I had a very gray beard in honor of “No shave November”.  
Throughout the legislative session, I will be conducting informal polls on the hot topics of the session via this email list. Please share with your neighbors who live in the district (see the map) so they may participate. The more people who respond means the results are more representative of the whole.
Medicaid Expansion
The Governor’s Task Force met a number of times this Fall to consider information from the other 36 states that have already expanded Medicaid and to look at components of proposals already on the table. As a result, a bipartisan compromise bill was crafted and filed. It would provide coverage for vulnerable working poor Kansans who fall below the annual $30,000 income level for a family of four. We have sent more than $3.7 billion of our own tax dollars out of state over the past five years and missed out on the 90/10%- Fed/state match to help 130,000 vulnerable Kansans and financially struggling rural hospitals. This bill has a long way to go and has NOT been given a green light by House Republican leadership. 
What to Watch for in 2020
Professional estimators expect the state to end this fiscal year with $900 million more in the bank than what was budgeted. This does not mean we have a bunch of extra money. What it means is we can continue to restore the basic functions of government like continuing to adequately fund K-12 schools on the schedule approved by the KS Supreme Court, reforming  our decimated foster care system, reduce waiting lists for elderly and disabled care, and recruit additional staff to improve the speed of tax returns. I do not expect any new or additional taxes, but a likely reduction in food sales tax or credits. And I do expect a great deal of discussion about property tax reductions with some incremental relief.
While the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the current formula provides funding which satisfies the requirements of the Kansas Constitution, we must continue to fund that formula to keep on the right side of the constitution. To continue that funding, an important provision must be reconsidered. High density at-risk weighting is a holdover policy from the previous formula incorporated into this one, and is scheduled to expire on July 1, 2020. This weighting provides extra funding for districts with a high density (35%+) of at-risk students, which is measured by the number of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. The Supreme Court asked specifically to recognize the increase cost of programs to help this student population. 
Constitutional Amendment
The constitutional amendment is titled Value Them Both and I believe the language attempts to do that while giving the Legislature sole oversight of abortion restrictions. The language also must stay consistent with Roe v Wade, until that would ever change. This is probably the most politically sensible way to approach this issue given that it needs to get a 2/3rds majority of both chambers to get to the voters in August (Primary Vote). This amendment is our best attempt to continue Kansas long history of abortion restrictions and assuring that we provide ongoing safe guidance to pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Judicial Funding
Every department will be looking at how to get a piece of the “surplus” in estimated revenues. However, even with raises the past two years, Kansas judicial employees are still in the lowest 5% in the nation in employee pay. This causes workload issues as well as “speedy trial” concerns. Six judges have filed a lawsuit against the state demanding more pay for judicial employees.
It is an honor and a pleasure representing you at the Capitol. Please feel free to share my legislative newsletter with your friends and family and do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments. 

Representative John Eplee, MD
Kansas House District 63
Serving Atchison and Doniphan counties
Paid for by Kansans for Eplee, Patsy A. Porter, CPA, Treasurer
Copyright © 2020, All rights reserved.

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Paid for by Kansans for Eplee, Patsy Porter, Treasurer · 163 Deer Run · Atchison, Ks 66002 · USA

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