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Meet the Senator
Steve and his wife, Francie, brought their family to Kansas twice. First, when Steve was a student at the Command and General Staff College, and later when he was getting ready to retire.
They have been Kansas residents for over almost thirty years and their children have attended local public, Lutheran, and Catholic schools.
While on active duty Steve served in Vietnam, Germany, and Grenada. He rose from a private to Lieutenant Colonel with tours in the 82d Airborne Division and the Third, Fifth, and Tenth Special Forces Groups. After the Army Steve started his own business but closed it when the 9/11/01 attacks happened.
He went to work as a military analyst and trainer for Northrop Grumman supporting the Army. Two of the children joined the Army and are still serving on active duty and in the reserves.
Politics is an important part of Francie and Steve's life. They have been precinct captains and district and state party delegates as well as strong supporters of Republican candidates. Steve did not just run for the Kansas Senate, he helped other candidates, worked as a delegate to the state party, was elected treasurer of the state party, and served on the local school board as vice-president.
He co-founded and is co-chair of The Leadership Series, which has trained over one hundred men in community and political leadership. He has also been active in several church, civic, and veterans' organizations.
In the Senate, Steve serves on the prestigious Ways and Means Committee, which helps craft the state’s budget each year. He is chairman of two of that panel’s subcommittees: the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Subcommittee and the Judicial and Gaming Subcommittee.
He is also a member of the Senate Transportation Committee,the Education Committee, the Ethics, Elections and Local Government Committee and the Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight. He is vice chairman of the Legislative and Elected Officials subcommittee of Ways and Means.
Kansas state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald of Leavenworth discusses the need for court reform in Kansas in this new video interview in the Capitol Rotunda in Topeka. (Video by Jim Sullinger Strategies LLC)
Also, catch the senators recent "Movers and Shakers" video by the City of Lansing in which he discusses the budget and revenue challenges facing Kansas. Click on THIS LINK.
Steve also participated recently on the Comcast Newsmakers program discussing his highlights and disappointments from the recently-completed legislative session. Click on THIS LINK to view the 4 minute video.
2015 Legislative Session Comes to an End
A tax increase? Yes, but with some very important changes to tax policy. I do not like the increase in sales tax; but, the changes in policy are healthy and necessary.
Since the reductions of 2012, income tax in Kansas is down over a billion dollars. Lower rates kept most of that money in the pockets of ordinary taxpayers in addition to a smaller amount saved by the elimination of income tax for small businesses. The results have been business growth, very low unemployment, and rising wages.
ddly enough, income tax revenue in Kansas has increased slightly – year to date it is up 2.7% over last year (cutting taxes left money in the pockets of Kansans; but, more taxpayers making more income brought the total tax revenue up). Sales tax and other taxes have lagged and overall revenue is below expectations. Apparently people are earning more but saving and reducing debt rather than spending.
Bonding for KPERS
Senate Bill 228 allows the Kansas Development Finance Authority (KDFA) to issue bonds, in one or more series, in an amount not to exceed $1.0 billion, plus all amounts required to pay the costs of issuance.
Assuming the proceeds of the bonds are received by the end of calendar year 2015, the funded ratio would increase from 60.7 percent to 66.0 percent. The unfunded actuarial liability would be estimated to decrease from $7.26 billion to $6.28 billion at that same point in time. In addition, this action will reduce state costs by roughly $64 million over the next two years.
While bonding this sum is obviously a challenging public policy decision, the reality is that this action allows us to take advantage of historically low interest rates to significantly reduce annual costs, while fundamentally improving the stability of our public retirement system. I voted for this bill.
WOODLANDS. The racetrack was once a large part of the economy of Wyandotte County and the surrounding area, providing jobs for retail, agriculture, hospitality, and other sectors. Then, the gambling boats came to Missouri and revenue dropped. That was the reason Wyandotte voted overwhelmingly in favor of gaming: as a way to better compete with the boats. However, the law that allowed slot machines at the track also taxed them at a very high rate, resulting in the track’s closure.
I worked this session to change the law to allow the Woodlands a fair shot at a comeback. The bill passed the Senate but is held up in the House. It will be considered there next year.
When the legislature is in session, constituents are encouraged to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 785-296-7357. I want to hear from constituents on any subject. If you are in Topeka, I am in room 135E. So, please stop by. Make an appointment with my secretary first. The legislature has adjourned for this year.
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Power of Courts is Growing
The widening gyre. The week was full of news and not all of it good. First, a short report on the final day of the Kansas Legislature, and then some comments on decisions by federal and Kansas judiciaries.
Constitutionally-based government, limited government, is constrained and guided by a popularly-approved constitution. Further, the federal government is specifically limited in its powers by the constitutional reservation of powers to the states and the people. At both the federal and state level, the making of law and all decisions on taxation and spending are clearly reserved for the legislatures.
Sine die (Latin, meaning “without a day” and properly pronounced sin-a di-a – but for unknown reasons sinney dye) adjournment means to adjourn without a fixed date to reconvene and is the end of the session for the year. On this last day there was only a technical correction on property tax authority for counties and cities. Without the correction, limits on taxation authority would begin immediately rather than in 2018. Some legislators, myself included, voted against the correction in order to provide the taxpayer protection as soon as possible. We lost 24 – 8.
Without objection the Governor's veto was sustained concerning excess funds of $1.9 million in the Regents budget, which now revert to the State General Fund.
Marriage means... The Supreme Court of the United States discovered that homosexual “marriage” is a constitutionally protected right – who knew?
This required a new and unintelligible definition of marriage – but, hey, what the heck. It is the Supreme Court of the United States and it can rewrite laws (see comments below concerning the Affordable Care Act) and it can redefine words and concepts and anything else. Not withstanding the law of the United States, i.e. The Defense of Marriage Act, and the laws and constitutions of the states, the new and improved definition of marriage is...whatever.