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Doc Eplee’s House Calls

The Legislature marked the halfway point in session by spending the week debating and discussing the issues identified by House committees as priorities. There were a wide variety of issues debated and some really good pieces of public policy I hope will become law. Following the Turnaround break, we headed back to committees for additional work on the bills identified by the Senate, during the first half of the session, as priorities. We have a few short weeks before first adjournment where we should have the majority of our work done. However, there are several items that still need action this session, including the budget, education and the Kansas Emergency Management Act.

Please check out the Legislature’s YouTube page, where you can see the full debates on many of these issues. Thank you, again, for the opportunity to serve you and your family. If I can ever be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

State Capitol
300 SW 10th St., 352-S
Topeka, KS 66612
Office: 785-296-8621
Cell: 913-367-5910
john.eplee@house.ks.gov
kansansforeplee.com

139th Airlift Wing Change of Command

I was very pleased to be able to attend the changing of leadership of The 139th Airlift Wing (Air National Guard) at Rosecrans Field near Wathena. Colonel John Cluck was installed as the new Commander. This is a great honor and responsibility for Colonel Cluck, who also serves as the mayor of Wathena.

Department of Labor Reforms

With unemployment fraud running rampant and the Department of Labor in dysfunction, the Legislature approved Sub HB 2196 to help reform our state’s unemployment system and the operations at the Department of Labor. The reforms in the bill include requiring updates to the IT system to help prevent fraud, holding those paying into the system harmless from fraudulent claims, increasing penalties for those who defraud the system and creating a council to identify additional changes to better serve Kansans. I voted Yea.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

HB 2058 will help ensure concealed carry permit holders can carry when they cross state lines. The bill provides reciprocity to out-of-state concealed carry permit holders, allowing them to carry in Kansas if permitted to in their home state. The bill also provides the Attorney General with some flexibility in operations as he issues concealed carry permits during times of disaster. Finally, this bill allows those Kansans between the age of 18-20 to get a provisional concealed carry permit if they complete a background check and take a safety training course. I voted Yea.

City Utility Loan Program

The extreme weather in February created an unprecedented demand on our energy system and caused energy prices to skyrocket. Cities were forced to pay higher costs for energy and H Sub SB 88 creates the City Utility Low Interest Loan Program to help ensure cities can continue to provide services and Kansans don’t get stuck with the bill. I voted Yea.

Property Tax Transparency

The House of Representatives finally debated SB 13, the property tax transparency bill that eliminates the broken tax lid and replaces it with local control and transparency requirements. The bill was the first tax bill sent to the Governor this session and I am pleased that it addresses property taxes. I voted Yea.

Transportation Updates

With spring right around the corner, many construction projects will soon be underway in Kansas. Our current state statutes require the modernization and expansion projects included in the T-WORKS program to be let for construction prior to those in the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program. HB 2201 allows Kansas to make exceptions to that law if we are able to utilize federal stimulus funds. This will help make Kansas more efficient and effective in our transportation operations and keep up our longstanding tradition of quality roads in Kansas. I voted Yea.

Local Transportation Projects

I recently took my grandsons down to the old Mall on Commercial street to inspect how rapidly it is disappearing and being replaced with a new street and better access for shoppers in the future. This renovation is long overdue and is the result of a state grant from KDOT two years ago. I was happy to assist the city in obtaining this grant.

Civics Tests

As an elected official at the state and local level, I am passionate about civic engagement. I think it is an important part of being involved in your community. HB 2039 establishes a new graduation requirement for Kansas students. It requires them to pass a civics test, similar to that of a new citizen to our country. I voted Yea.

Updates to the Kansas Emergency Management Act

The House of Representatives voted to approve HB 2416, which includes some important reforms in our state’s disaster laws, requiring collaboration between the executive and the legislative branches. Unfortunately, this pandemic has become far too much about the politicians in charge and not nearly enough about the people of Kansas. Coordination of efforts will make our state’s response to any disaster stronger and the checks and balances in this bill will help ensure local control. I voted Yea.

The Kansas Senate has passed their own reform to our emergency management statutes and we will be negotiating with them in the weeks ahead in order to get a final bill to the Governor by March 31, 2021.

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Copyright (C) 2021 Paid for by Kansans for Eplee, Patsy Porter, Treasurer. All rights reserved.

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