Editor's note: The following column was written in response to a Journal-World invitation to members of the Kansas House and Senate to share their thoughts about their hopes for Kansas and the major issues facing the state.
The results of the 2006 election demonstrated that voters were frustrated with the state of American politics and were ready to move beyond divisive rhetoric that did little to benefit our state or country. During my campaign I emphasized the importance of finding common-sense solutions to everyday problems. In short, this means working toward practical objectives that benefit all Kansans: good jobs, good schools and good hospitals. I have been pleased with the successes of the Legislature thus far this session and am confident that the future of our state is brighter than ever. I am particularly excited about two areas in which Kansas has the opportunity to set the standard for the rest of the nation.
The first of these opportunities is for Kansas to take the lead in developing alternative energy sources. Our wind, land, and agricultural resources make us uniquely positioned to implement policies that create jobs and promote environmental objectives at the same time.
Reducing our dependence on foreign oil is a national security issue that our state can help address for the country, such as when Kansas churned out airplanes and food support for the nation's efforts during World War II. These initiatives would provide a much-needed economic stimulus to rural Kansas communities while also providing opportunities for our universities to become national centers of excellence for research and development of new energy technologies.
Together with the leadership of Gov. Sebelius, who serves as chairwoman of the national Governors' Ethanol Council, the Legislature has the opportunity to work in a bipartisan manner and lead the nation in alternative energy production. As the governor has said, this is a three-way victory: our farmers benefit, our nation benefits, and our environment benefits. The time for action is now.
The second opportunity for Kansas to lead the nation is to reduce the costs of health care while increasing the number of Kansans with coverage. Across the nation health care costs have spiraled out of control, a process that hurts patients, physicians and employers alike. By reducing the massive health care bureaucracy, we can allow doctors to do what they do best: take care of patients and save lives.
Additionally, I strongly support the governor's efforts to provide coverage for all Kansas children from birth to age 5. The Legislature must choose people over politics and support this common-sense proposal. Having grown up the son of Kansas doctors, I know that we can accomplish these practical goals.
In his speech in Topeka on March 2, former President Clinton emphasized that issues such as energy and health care are made for practical people like us. He was right. If we work on fixing problems instead of getting caught up in useless partisan battles, there is no limit to what Kansas can achieve. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in promoting common sense policies that benefit all Kansans.