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Legislative update

Cuts to arts commission, reapportionment in 2012

Rep., District 70

June 1 was Sine Die. The Governor had signed the budget with a few line items vetoed and we had one last look at those matters. The one that gave me concern was related to the Arts Commission. The Governor’s veto of the roughly $680,000 budget completely unfunded it; like many of you who contacted me throughout the session, I disagreed with cutting out the Arts Commission, and I voted to override the Governor’s veto.

While I knew we didn’t have the votes to override it, I thought I ought to stay true to my advocacy during the session. We mustered a majority of those representatives who came to Sine Die (50 of us voted to override), but that was short of the constitutional two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. I hope the arts flourish; I guess we’ll do it without funding from our state. The Governor did appoint a new commissioner and he pledged some of the funds remaining from his inauguration to the Arts Commission, about $150,000.

With our adjournment, the session is officially over until next January. I hope you will think through the things that you want the legislature to accomplish in the next year, and in the next five years. Setting long-term and short-term goals is essential for an effective legislature, just as they are important for every family. I need your input and will likely contact you again — possibly through this column — to learn your current views on spending, tax matters, etc.

We’ve now cut about $1.8 billion in state spending since my election. In the meantime, please contemplate what other funds you advocate funding. What restructuring of, or modifications to, our tax “system” do you propose or oppose?

The 2012 session will include the necessary reapportionment of the 125 House districts and the 40 Senate districts. The national census is taken every 10 years and our most recent was taken in 2010.

Totals had been calculated this spring and adjusted for accuracy and we learned that the “ideal” House district would have about 22,000 Kansans in it. Each legislative house will re-draw its district lines so each approximates that ideal, and that means the 70th District will need to add people — about 2,000 or so. I don’t know where they will come from, but that is up to the reapportionment committee.

I hope to continue representing the entire 70th District plus another 2,000 folks, but that is also undecided as of yet. With the de-population of many western counties and the influx into eastern counties — Douglas and Johnson in particular — we will see a shift of legislators from rural to urban districts. The balance of power will again move east. Two or three new districts will be taken from rural areas and moved into that urban corridor.

What will reapportionment mean for us in the center of Kansas? No one yet knows; the plan for reapportioning the districts is only beginning this summer; it will be completed by the end of the 2012 legislative session. You will likely see an announcement in our local papers this summer about a “listening tour.” Members of the reapportionment committee will be in larger cities throughout the state to glean views from all Kansans who care to participate.

If you have thoughts for the committee about redistricting, I’d encourage you to attend one of the meetings. For your information, the legislature will also reapportion the Congressional Districts.

It is a pleasure to represent you. This is my last regular column, but there may be sporadic ones during the summer and fall, if important information surfaces.

During the remainder of the year, please contact me at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net, or write me at 201 Meadow Lane, Marion KS 66861, or call (620) 382-2133.

Last modified June 8, 2011

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