I have seen firsthand what can be accomplished when people make their voices heard in Topeka. I’m running for re-election to the Kansas House of Representatives to elevate the voices of Kansans and continue to fight for public education and public safety.
The Class of 2022 never attended school while the legislature was constitutionally funding public education. Academic achievement is a priority, and we are finally getting back on track.
I know the importance of a quality public education, and I value teachers and school staff. I volunteer in the classroom and on the Rising Star PTA executive board. Teachers should have access to training, the right to due process, and the state must have high standards for licensing and hiring teachers. Schools should have the capacity to hire student support services staff and prioritize the needs of our most vulnerable students. We have to make sure that our policies help schools attract and retain excellent teachers and staff.
That’s why I serve on the House K-12 Education Budget Committee and stand up against efforts to dismantle public education.
Kansas students have the right to an adequately funded education – but Kansas parents don’t want a basic education for our kids. We want the best.
The Kansas Supreme Court found the 2019 school funding formula to be adequate, and the court will make sure that the legislature fully funds schools through 2023. We have kept this commitment, but we still have work to do. Republican leadership put a full stop to increased funding for special education and allowed the K-12 budget to skip the Appropriations process so that they could bundle controversial policy with the biggest funding portion of our state budget. We need to bring professionalism and transparency back to the budgeting process and ensure that school funding reflects the changes in educational costs. All Kansas students deserve access to an excellent education.
Funding cuts over the years have led to larger class sizes, program cuts, and a greater difficulty in teachers being able to meet the needs of their students. We have reached a fork in the long road to recovery, and it’s essential to send public school advocates to Topeka or risk losing what we’ve gained. I understand the need to continue to invest in education.
Industry and agriculture provide livelihood for our state and bolster the Kansas economy. They provide jobs for our citizens and food for our tables. Corporations and individuals operating in these fields must conduct their businesses in a way that is protective of human health and the environment. One-size-fits-all regulation won’t work.
The House Committee on Water spent the last two years studying the state’s water crisis. The committee’s goal was to develop a plan to improve how water is managed and protected in Kansas. Aquifer depletion, reservoir sedimentation, and drinking water contamination are alarming. We must change course. The water reform bill was a long-term, sustainable funding source for water that would restructure state agencies, add a cabinet-level position, and increase opportunities for citizen engagement in groundwater governance. Unfortunately, the bill was gutted, and Kansas lost the opportunity to protect our water resources. We will try again next year.
There is good news – we fully funded the State Water Plan including water projects, programs, and paying down debts.
I believe that industries have an inherent responsibility to be stewards of the environment and have a seat at the table to find solutions. We must work together to protect our air and water resources by leveraging technologies and implementing industry-specific best practices. Kansas should invest in biotechnology, infrastructure, wind and solar energy, and transportation alternatives.
Kansas must close the coverage gap and make sure that all Kansans have access to healthcare. The Medicaid rate was finally increased in 2019, but it was only increased to where the state was ten years ago. Kansas Lawmakers failed to pass Medicaid Expansion again in 2021 and 2022. Kansans need access to affordable healthcare and prescription drugs now more than ever. I voted for Medicaid Expansion, but we continue to get pushback despite the fact that failing to expand Medicaid will actually increase the State General Fund Budget by $68.5 million dollars for fiscal year 2023. We are missing out on federal dollars for healthcare that should be used right here in Kansas. Help me keep working to bring those dollars back to the Sunflower State.
Sensible Gun Laws That Save Lives
We need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous histories by building bipartisan efforts to:
Support background checks on all gun sales
The Federal Government requires background checks at all federally licensed gun dealers but not on unlicensed sales at gun shows or online. Background checks have stopped over 3.5 million sales to prohibited purchasers since 1994. Kansas must close the gun show loophole and require background checks on private sales.
Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers
The Kansas legislature overwhelmingly passed our state’s first Domestic Violence law in 2018, which keeps guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and it was signed into law by Governor Colyer. I worked tirelessly with the Kansas team of Moms Demand Action volunteers to support this bill that will save lives. However, there still needs to be an enforcement mechanism so that domestic abusers are required to relinquish the guns that they may already have to law enforcement for as long as they are prohibited from possessing them. I introduced HB 2251 to be sponsored by the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. The hearing on this bill provided information that will help us move forward on a better bill to introduce next session.
Reinstate permits and training
Guns in the hands of untrained and potentially dangerous people do not make us safer. Kansas should pass a law that requires a permit and training for carrying a concealed weapon. I carried an amendment in Federal and State Affairs to reinstate permits and training, but the provision failed.
Educate families on safe gun storage
Children and teenagers should never have unsupervised access to firearms. As a parent and a gun owner, I practice responsible gun ownership. Guns should be stored locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition.
Reverse guns on campus policy
Our state government should not force public universities to have to allow hidden, loaded guns on their campuses. Students can carry guns on campuses starting at age 18.
Oppose dangerous gun laws
I will continue working to prevent our gun laws from being rolled back. I oppose bills to arm teachers or allow guns in K-12 classrooms. In 2021, the legislature lowered the age to carry a concealed firearm from 21 to 18. I voted NO, but this dangerous bill became law. We were told that weakening our gun laws would prevent crime, but violent crime has been steadily increasing since permitlesss carry was enacted in 2015.
Tax Relief for Kansans
Kansans should be able to support a family with their wages and benefits, and we should all be able to retire with dignity. I joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to eliminate the food sales tax and provide property tax relief. Cutting these taxes will help give families more money to buy food, school supplies, or just pay the bills. I will keep working to be a good steward of our taxpayer dollars.
We are in a great financial position thanks to measured, responsible budgeting and great economic gains. Kansas is the best place to live and work; we must continue this level of responsibility to our taxpayers while maintaining the core functions of our state government.
Working for You
- Voting Record: 100% perfect attendance
- Second Sunday Monthly Town Halls with Senator Sykes at the Lenexa Public Market at 2:00pm
- Serving District 17 on the House Federal and State Affairs, Children and Seniors, and K-12 Education Budget Committees
- Served on the 2021 Special Committee on Education
- Carried an amendment on the House Floor to fully fund the State Early Literacy/Dyslexia Program Manager – the position is fully funded with State General Funds thanks to bipartisan efforts!
- Voted NO on the anti-abortion Value Them Both constitutional amendment in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, on the House Floor, and at the polls on Aug. 2, 2022
- Carried an amendment on the House Floor to prohibit instructors from using, demonstrating, or possessing firearms or live ammunition in K-12 schools as part of the NRA’s Eddie Eagle training for elementary students – thankfully this bill did not become law
- Carried an amendment on the House Floor to create equity groups for medical marijuana permits and licenses and provide a 15% discount to Black or African American, American Indian, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, or low income individuals – medical marijuana has stalled in the Senate
- Legislative Post Audit request on the Tax Credit Scholarship Program exposing the lack of oversight and accountability: 2 out of 9 Scholarship Granting Organizations are in noncompliance with state statutes, and there isn’t a process in place should the $10 million threshold for taxpayer dollars set aside to pay the tax credits be exceeded
- HB 2251 – requiring the relinquishment of firearms upon conviction of domestic violence misdemeanors, stalking, or restraining orders – these individuals are already prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms so we must enforce this by making sure there’s a process for them to turn in guns that they may already have – we still have work to do to get this bill to the finish line
- HB 2639 – expanding the public workforce by changing the assessment threshold for KPERS employees working after retirement – this bill passed out of the House Insurance and Pensions Committee but will require additional work next year
Governor Kelly took important action to restore LGBTQ+ protections for state employees, and her administration will allow residents to change their gender on their birth certificates. No one should lose a job because of who they love or be forced to go through life without the government recognizing their identity. I will fight for equal rights for all Kansans. I stood up against those bullying and discriminating against transgender children, and I will do everything that I can to make all people feel welcome in our state. Love is love.