Jan 25, 2023

BILLINGER: Senate Update, Jan. 23, 2023

Posted Jan 25, 2023 10:42 AM
State Sen. Rick Billinger, R-Goodland, 40th Dist. File photo by Becky Kiser/Hays Post
State Sen. Rick Billinger, R-Goodland, 40th Dist. File photo by Becky Kiser/Hays Post

Sen. Rick Billinger Newsletter
January 23, 2023

The 2023 legislative session began on Monday, January 9th with the swearing in of Senator Ron Ryckman, Sr., and new Senator Chase Blasi. Ron Ryckman Sr. replaced Senator Bud Estes two years ago and was reelected for two more years. Senator Chase Blasi is familiar with the Senate having served on staff for both President Wagle and currently President Masterson the past few sessions. Senator Blasi was elected to serve the remaining two years of Senator Suellentrop’s term.

Newly elected Kansas State Treasurer Steven Johnson is taking a hard look at whether ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) policy influences pension fund investment and who manages the investments. Johnson said one of his priorities is making sure that state pension funds are focused on the best return on investment and not ESG principles.

Normally in the first week of session the State of the State is held. Because Governor Kelly tested positive for Covid her address has been postponed until January 24th.

Even though the Governor did not have her State of the State, budget director Adam Proffitt laid out the Governors $24.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2024. Some of the proposals in the budget include accelerating the elimination of the food sales tax, adding $500 million to the rainy day fund, additional money for special education, 5% salary increase for state employees,

Chief Justice Marla Luckert, from northwest Kansas, delivered the state of the Judiciary address in a joint session to the legislature. Ms. Luckert highlighted the specialty courts across the state, the need for attorneys in rural Kansas, and raising judicial pay.

America has always been the land of opportunity, a land where freedom is secure, and our hopes and dreams can be achieved with hard work and perseverance. In the last few years, this optimism has been replaced by a profound pessimism, as employers struggle to find workers, paychecks remain stagnant, and the cost of living is going through the roof. The good news is that we are Kansans, and we value hard work, faith, freedom, and family which will guide us through the current challenges and toward a better future. Republicans from the House and the Senate joined together in a press conference to announce a comprehensive legislature agenda entitled, “A Better Way: Our Commitment to Kansas.”

In the last three elections, the winner of the Kansas Governor’s race failed to crack 50% of the vote. Lawmakers are looking at the trend and wondering whether Kansas might need a runoff election if a candidate for statewide office fails to get a majority of the vote in the general election. A bill was introduced late Tuesday in the House Elections Committee that would establish runoff elections for statewide elected officials: governor, secretary of state, insurance commissioner, treasurer, and attorney general. The proposal would cover general elections and not apply to any other campaigns of the Legislature, state school board or local offices. The runoff would be held on the first Tuesday of December after the final canvass of votes.

My office has several dates available for 6th graders through high school to serve as a page. Working as a page in the Kansas Legislature is an excellent way to learn more about the legislative process. If your child is interested in being a page for my office the following dates are available:

February 6, 13, 20 or March 6th

Please contact Donna at 785-296-7399 to reserve a date.

I am honored and grateful to represent the 40th Senate District in Kansas. Please do not hesitate to contact me by email: [email protected] or call me with your questions or concerns, my office number is 785-296-7399 or my cell is 785-899-4700. If you are in Topeka, stop by my office at 545-S.

Rick Billingr, R-Goodland, is the 40th District senator which includes:

* Cheyenne, Decatur, Ellis, Gove, Graham, Logan, Norton, Rawlins, Sheridan, Sherman, Thomas, Trego and Wallace counties
* Phillips County: Cities: Logan, Long Island, Prairie View, Speed; Townships: Beaver, Belmont, Dayton, Granite, Logan,
Long Island, Mound, Plainview, Prairie View, Solomon (part) and Towanda