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LJWorld.com weblogs Linda's Backroad Musings

Insights from the Rail

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Health Care, Agriculture, and Utilities. Just a regular Monday at the Kansas legislature.Admittedly, I am not a Kansas political junkie. News media and occasional casual conversations are the extent of my participation in the legislative process. Perhaps it is time to learn my way around, so I accept the challenge to take a day off to watch and listen. The Capitol building itself is familiar. The dome, rotunda, and renovated chambers especially the senate with its ornate art work, are a Kansas treasure. Eight o'clock Monday morning finds me at the lower east entrance where a guard assesses me harmless. I locate the press room and Lawrence Journal World's Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild. We pick up a Senate and House Calendar from the Document Room on the first floor. These may be downloaded from the internet at Kansas Legislature I scan the calendars of both chambers, circle the committee meetings of interest, and then fit them into the day.Scott is off to the no smoking debate while I attend the meeting of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. There are at least fifteen interested people waiting with me. At the stated starting time, there is an unexplained cancellation and they quickly disburse. I slip up a floor in time to catch the Senate Utilities committee meeting before it is on to the House visitor's area to wait for the call to order. Following opening formalities, there appears to be general disorder on the floor. I happen to sit next to a person who knows the procedures well. He informs me much of the talking is in fact a way of getting things done even if a person is up front is formally reading a bill or amendment. It is obvious from the debates legislators spend many hours working in committees before a bill or amendment comes before the entire house. They speak persuasively either for or against, often quoting constituents of their district. The House session spends a great deal of time discussing a bi partisan health care bill that includes a program to fund insurance for poor families, a plan that enables workers to deduct premiums, longer interim insurance in a job change, and dental care for pregnant mothers. Politics are present when members point out for the record they are making compromises for the good of the entire bill and the people of the State. Listening to the debate lets me know the state is seriously looking at this important topic. The House works through the lunch but at their adjournment, I still have time to rush to the House Budget Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. From there it is on to the formalities and business of the Senate. My assessment is the political health of our state is good. While I feel a little impatient with the procedure, our elected officials talk and work together-and apart, but that is the process. Certainly if I feel strongly about an issue, I can speak. On the other hand, if I write or call, they listen. Young people were present in the halls and chambers the entire day. They are there as Pages and groups on tours. Their participation is encouraging for the future of Kansas as well.Click on picture for slideshow of Kansas Capitol

A view from the Rail

Comments

momchat1 6 years ago

Thanks for the blog, Linda. It was easy to read and provided good insight. I hope you do some more.

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kansascrone 6 years ago

linda - sounds like you had a good day at the capitol. wish i could be as optimistic as you about the health of our state political system.

one of the many things i find troubling is campaign finance. when incumbants campaigns, from even the smallest districts, are heavily subsidized by special interest groups; one wonders to what degree lawmakers consider the interests of voters when making their decisions.

In other words, voters interests and those of say, big agribusiness; alcohol and tobacco companies; the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are rarely compatible. when lawmakers are forced to choose between the two, and depend on contributions from big business and other special interests, they have a conflict of interest.

interestshttp://www.kansas.gov/ethics/Campaign_Finance/View_Submitted_Forms_&_Reports.html

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Ronda Miller 6 years ago

Joyce, we expect you to blog about that experience!

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jystevens 6 years ago

Linda:

My husband, youngest son and I were at the Capitol on Saturday. We took a Dome Tour. The tour goes up the stairs around the dome. At one point, tourists are above the dome and can continue clear to the top, which takes them outside. If you look at the top of the dome from outside you can see a railing. That is where the tour ends. There are 296 steps to the top. Dome Tour Info and pictures: http://www.washburn.edu/cas/art/cyoho/archive/AroundTopeka/dome/index.html

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Ronda Miller 6 years ago

Linda, I am so glad that you took the opportunity to attend and present your insight and information back to the rest of us. How interesting! I will be happy to go to the link you posted to see what agenda is upcoming.

Thanks!

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