April 27, 2006
Alright, already! There wasn't a whole lot going on during the break and I didn't want to add junk to your Inbox. I'm finally getting adjusted to normal life and now I'm back in Topeka for Veto Session - so much for normalcy! I hope you've enjoyed your April, got your taxes paid on time, and your gardens are weeded and planted. Any chance mine is next?
SO much going on! I filed for election on Friday, April 21st, and am very excited about the upcoming campaign and opportunity to continue to represent you in Topeka for a third term. You can see my press release here: http://www.stephaniesharp.com/2006%20filing.
Education and Personal Activities
The Return of "Where's Waldo"
As longtime subscribers know, Veto Session is when the Sharp Record picks up speed, and frequency. Committee chairs save the bulk of the conference committee reports for passage during the Veto Session, so we're passing A LOT of bills we've already passed out of the chamber, but now they are coming back as final versions. So we will be very busy, which makes for more bills in a newsletter, so I update more frequently because there is so much going on!
§ To refresh, a conference committee is put together on a bill when it has passed the House and Senate, but amendments were made in the process. A conference committee hammers out the differences and presents an identical bill to the House and Senate. Once the same version of a bill passes both chambers it goes to the Governor. So, we see a couple different versions of each bill!
Saturday, June 3rd, 9:30 am - Old Shawnee Days!!! It's parade time! If you've never walked a parade, this is a short one with a great crowd. Reply to this email if you have a red t-shirt and can help hand out goodies.
Tuesday, July 4th, 9:30 am - Lenexa Community Days parade. Ditto above and I help sponsor a refreshment tent after the event. Both parades are fun for kids, teens, and parents!
Yes, Kansas is in the news a lot these days, and not enough of the coverage is good. Take heart - from what I saw last weekend, the business community is working together with the science community in Kansas to give you every reason to scream out "I'M A KANSAN!!!"
From April 8-11, I had the opportunity to be a Kansas delegate to the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual conference in Chicago. BIO 2006 brought together top researchers, scientists, programs, and businesses from around the world to network and showcase their wares and ideas. There must have been 1000+ exhibitors. It was a record attendance with 20,000 participants! First of all, the Kansas pavilion was tremendous. It was unique, inviting, bright, and descriptive. Most U.S. states exhibited, as well as dozens of countries from around the world.
One of the highlights was attending the Kansas Bioscience Authority meeting on the 78th Floor of the Sears Tower. Certainly a first for this Kansas girl.
Pictures of the Kansas BIO2006 pavilion are here: http://www.stephaniesharp.com/photo_album/photos/index_html?slide=5
See the article on KTEC and the amazing businesses Kansas is growing:
Here are some of the KS folks I met - welcome to the Sharp Record!
Mitch Abrahamsen, VP Research, Hill's Pet Nutrition - Topeka
Lesa Mitchell, VP Advancing Innovation, Kauffman Foundation - KCMO
John Siebert, Chairman & CEO, CyDex - Lenexa
Donna Swanson, International Business Development, ICM - Colwich, KS
David McDonald, Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Wichita State University
Joel Wiggins, President & CEO, Enterprise Center of Johnson County - Lenexa
Doug Kinsinger, President & CEO, Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce
Sam Campbell, CEO, CritiTech - Lawrence (featured in article above)
Andrew Nave, Asst. Director, Shawnee Economic Development Council
Suresh Ramamurthi, Entrepreneur in Residence, KS Technology Enterprise Corporation (featured in article above)
Robb McKim, VP, Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc - Westwood
Ab Basu, Director of State Government Relations, BIO - DC (He covers KS for BIO.)
Chris Ronan shadowed me on Thursday, March 30th. Chris works in communications for Crown Center Redevelopment Corporation. Chris and his wife Rachel live in Post Oak Farm in Lenexa. Little did I know I was being shadowed by a Johnson County track star - he also helps coach his alma mater's team at St. Thomas Aquinas. Here are his thoughts about his day in Topeka:
"I'd urge you to take Stephanie up on her offer and spend some time with her in Topeka. I met the Governor, saw debate in the State Senate, voting in the House, one of those famous "lobbyist lunches" and a lot more.
I read the paper, watch the news, and all that. But there's something about seeing the legislative process in-person that significantly changed my understanding of it. And not just my perception of the process, but also of the people involved in it. Getting to see the voting, hear the politicians talk, witness true lobbying; it's all something you can't get from newspapers or newscasts.
From what I could gather that day, there aren't many politicians who ask their constituents to shadow them. I'm telling you, you'll be so glad that you made the time for it. It's a tremendous opportunity that none of us should pass up."
Thanks, Chris! Interested in being a Sharp Shadow? We'll have a couple of days (probably through May 3) in veto session when you could come be in the middle of the action. After that, we'll likely still be in session, but it's tough to predict! Let me know if any of those days work for you.
Education and Personal Activities
The Kansas economy is booming!!! On Monday of this week, we received news that Kansas revenues were $290 million more than we expected! Those are things we like to hear, especially when another financial battle over education is looming. So, we're kind of thinking maybe there won't be a special session after all, maybe we'll be able to get this done in veto session since there's more flexibility in the budget, pass some school money, pass some tax cuts, and go home. I'm a persistent optimist, but sometimes the rose-colored glasses (and a penchant for sarcasm) get the best of me.
Here's the twist - on Wednesday (April 19), the House Appropriations Committee spent it all, without funding schools! There is no money left for schools. I'll leave it to the wisdom of the readership to determine the intent of that one.
From my perspective, there are a couple of scenarios (there are obviously more than these two, but these are just two examples) that could happen if we do nothing:
- Supreme Court comes back, reminds us of our constitutional requirement to fund schools (Article 6), and points to our own study (Legislative Post Audit report, January 2006) that details those costs. They could mention these two things (constitution, cost study) and make a financial recommendation to us.
Post Audit summary: http://www.kslegislature.org/postaudit/audits_perform/05pa19.pdf
Article 6, Kansas Constitution: http://skyways.lib.ks.us/KSL/ref/constitution/art6.html
- The Court appoints a Master. It is my understanding that many rural organizations are actively opposing education plans in an effort to get people ginned up about a property tax that isn't even on the table (increases in Local Option Budget property taxes that stay within a school district are up to the local school districts, and would likely not be used in rural Kansas).
What they fail to realize, however, is that if we do nothing, and a Master is appointed, low enrollment schools lose-lose-lose. The Court has already warned against low enrollment weighting. The LPA report showed low enrollment schools are getting too much money. Small school districts would be the biggest losers in this game of chicken. Those schools should be the first ones at the bargaining table, and many supported the House education plan because it did threaten their funding.
Obviously, these scenarios are null and void if we do our jobs, and come back home to our districts. Our responsibility as elected officials is to look beyond the next election. The lack of a long term commitment (more than one year) is lip service with the hopes the voters and the Court will forget our financial and intestinal shortcomings.
Watch your mail, the newspapers, and the airwaves for false information about the education plan that recently passed the Kansas House. Some are claiming that Johnson County loses money in the House-passed plan. And this is no different than any other funding issue in Kansas.
You understand basic economics. The bulk of the KS population lives here. The bulk of the property, sales, and income taxes in Kansas are earned here - 30 percent. We fund 30 percent of the State of Kansas. One of the most interesting statistics I've heard: 1 year of sales tax spent at Oak Park Mall = combined annual sales tax revenue of 66 Kansas counties.
So, we are never going to get back more than we give and we are never going to break even, it just works that way. The only way to get close is to increase our ability to guide our own destiny through local control - keeping local dollars local - by removing the limits on local spending on schools.
OK, OK, now I'm hearing the other side - you miss Where's Waldo, and I don't blame you… I'm a big fan of disclosure and sunshine on the process - it's good for you to know what I'm doing in the community to represent you:
§ Johnson County Public Policy Council Eggs & Issues speaker
§ Lenexa Lion's Club speaker
§ TLC fundraising meeting
§ BIO 2006 in Chicago
§ Lenexa 1-4 precinct coffee at the home of Bryan and Jennifer Wampler, thanks for sponsoring!
§ Shawnee Chamber lunch
§ Johnson County Young Republicans meeting
§ Shawnee Rotary Club speaker
§ Four Colonies HOA speaker
§ Lenexa Chamber lunch
§ Shawnee Mission Education Foundation Celebrate Success luncheon
o Constituent Ben Alexander is raking in the awards/scholarships! He won the Betty Charlton award at the Shawnee Chamber lunch, and was recognized for being a National Merit Finalist at the SMSD lunch - congrats Ben, we're proud of you!
§ KU Communications class panelist
§ I'm getting the heck into Dodge this weekend for the Kansas Republican Party's Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service Series.
§ Retirement dinner for Rep. Ray Cox of Shawnee/Bonner Springs/Basehor
§ SB 139 bill signing ceremony
§ Legislative Shrimp Peel for Special Olympics - we raised more than $18,000, a new record!
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of service to you. Reply to this email if you have questions or comments about these or any other issues of interest to you.
Rep. Stephanie Sharp
17th District, Kansas House
Serving Lenexa and Shawnee
Topeka phone: 785-296-7654 (Note: this is a change from last year.)