It’s the week before Inauguration Day, and all through the House (and Senate and governor’s and insurance commissioner’s and secretary of state’s offices) the creatures are stirring — and we haven’t seen any mice.
Well, let’s call that a little dramatic, but this is the week before Monday’s (Jan. 14) Inauguration Day and state government is essentially starting all over again. There are no carryover bills, just a few pre-filed measures that legislators thought up over the summer.
And there are those 30-some new legislators moving in, figuring out where the bathrooms and the lactation room are located, and just why the southeast elevator in the Statehouse won’t open onto the 2nd floor — because its door is inside the governor’s office.
Incoming lawmakers and electeds finally get rid of that pesky “-elect” preamble to their names and get busy…at some point.
After the swearings-in and the Inaugural Ball, we’re figuring that as in the past, it may be noonish on Jan. 15 for some newly inaugurated officials to get their blood alcohol content below .08 percent and be ready for work, but the thing to remember is that they just make law…can’t break the skin.
So, how quickly do things start? Look for legislators new and old to inundate the Revisor of Statute’s office with those ideas that have been pulled from campaign speeches and printed on door cards. It’s the revisors that turn those new lawmakers’ ideas into actual bills.
But the real start to this session, probably a few days after the inauguration, will be Gov. Laura Kelly’s State of the State Address to a joint session of the House and Senate.
Most newspaper readers could probably be background singers for that speech. We know that Kelly wants Medicaid (called KanCare here) expanded to bring new federal dollars—and, yes, some state money, too—to providing health care to generally poor Kansans and their children, and we know she wants the state to write roughly $90 million in checks over the next five years to provide what the Kansas Supreme Court last year determined to be “adequate” state financing for K-12 schools.
There’s a lot more we may learn in that first official speech as governor—ranging from voting rights to transportation to pay for state workers and probably some nibbling around reducing the sales tax on groceries.
Don’t look for that speech to contain any mention of general tax cuts. Kelly has made clear that she wants to know the trickle-down effect of federal tax cuts before she knows for sure their impact on Kansas revenues. Sorta like checking your wallet to decide whether you’ll order chicken or steak for dinner.
The real start button for the Legislature will be her budget, and she has until Feb. 3 (yes, a Sunday) to present it to lawmakers. Practically, there probably isn’t much need for dramatic changes to it except for some minor shuffling of money for the remainder of this fiscal year. It’s the budget for the year that starts July 1 that is the key to a Kelly administration, and for Kansans, just what the next two years are going to look like.
So…count on a frenzied, but relatively slow start. But don’t count on it staying slow for more than a couple weeks…
While the governor is in the saddle for four years, the entire House and Senate stand for reelection in just two years.
That means that senators, sometimes off-the-leash in the first two years of their four-year terms, start thinking twice about the last two years and the campaign ahead, when it is most likely we’ll remember what they did…or didn’t.
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com