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  • Writer's pictureJeff Pittman

Sen. Jeff Pittman's 2022 Legislative Update #2

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Legislative Update #2 January 24, 2022 IN THIS ISSUE:

I am honored to serve as your Senator. My office is located in 124E. Please feel free to contact me at or . Also feel free to forward my email to someone who may be interested in subscribing. On Monday, the Statehouse was closed to commemorate Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was glad to present an award to Ms. Sharon Anderson and Ms. Bobbi Flucas for their efforts every year for three decades of putting together MLK events.

CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING Every ten years, states are constitutionally mandated to redraw their state legislative and congressional district lines using US Census data. The Legislature is responsible for proposing and approving these maps, which the governor can then sign, veto, or allow to become law without her signature. The Senate and House Committees on Redistricting met several times during the 2021 interim to receive input from communities across Kansas about their desired redistricting process and outcomes. The in-person and virtual town halls were poorly advertised, and Kansans had little notice and no guidelines to help frame their testimony. Just before the holiday weekend, the Senate Redistricting chair asked committee members to introduce congressional maps. All submitted maps must undergo a technical review by nonpartisan legislative staff to ensure they meet the approved guidelines. A technical review takes approximately 3 days to complete. On Tuesday, Senate President Ty Masterson introduced his map, Ad Astra. Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes introduced her map, United, as well as the Bluestem map she sponsored on behalf of the League of Women Voters. The public was given less than 24 hours to submit testimony on these maps, which determine the political future of our state for the next decade. At Thursday’s hearings, Senate leadership was combative and defensive in response to legal and community concerns shared by members of the committee, activists, and everyday Kansans. The bulk of the Senate’s work on Friday involved debate on these maps. The Ad Astra 2 map makes significant changes to the configuration of our congressional districts, when only minimal changes were needed. It passed after much debate, but the process that led us to this map has been questionable at best, and the Senate is brazenly disregarding hundreds of Kansans’ written and oral testimony that asks the Legislature explicitly not to shotgun partisan based maps this way.

Congressional Map called AdAstra2, proposed by Senate Republicans.

AdAstra2 Splits Wyandotte and Douglas County arbitrarily. Wyandotte is split across the middle using a highway with no community of interest data taken into account. It also arbitrarily puts Lawrence into the western kansas Congressional District, having all the signs of extreme gerrymandering. When analyzing the AdAstra2 map, we also see it splitting communities of color votes in Wyandotte and Lawrence. M3_AdAstra_2 CD 4 is kept nearly entirely untouched with 99.6 % of its voters from the same CD4 as in 2012. There has been a 'halo' placed around Wichita in CD4, and we can easily see that most Republican leadership is from Wichita. Meanwhile in this proposed AdAstra2 map which I opposed, the Congressional District 2 is hyper-manipulated to presumably provide protection to the current congressman. It totally disregards the notion of communities that are similar, local economies that are similar and interests such as keeping similar federal military bases in the same district to provide a federal interest commonality (Ft Riley and Ft Leavenworth). Compactness is a key guideline. When using a compactness measure, we see these numbers: AdAstra2 (Senate R Leadership) District Reock 1 0.37 2 0.39 3 0.38 4 0.41 Where the Reock score measures compactness, is always between 0 and 1, and 1 is the most compact. Contrast this to the Sunflower 2 map introduced by my colleague in Northeast Kansas, Senator Pyle (R). Sunflower3 (PYLE) District Reock 1 0.51 2 0.46 3 0.44 4 0.30

Average compactness of this alertness goes up which is one of the guidelines for good redistricting, and CD4 moves east because that is where the population growth has happened. This makes so much more sense in terms of keeping similar agricultural towns in CD1, the Western Kansas district, versus the very different Lawrence Kansas on the other side of the state. The Sunflower2 map also keeps Wyandotte whole and moves it into CD2 which has cities like Leavenworth, Atchison, and Topeka that have similar urban renewal, ethnic makeups, economic similarities and more. With a few tweaks, I believe the approach Senator Pyle (R) took makes sense and should be under strong consideration. The amendment to adopt this map was very close to succeeding in a bipartisan vote. The map can now be considered by the House. This is the first such maps to move out of one of the chambers. It is still subject to governor veto and court review so it is not finalized, but I am disappointed with how this redistricting process has started. News on this: "Sen. Jeff Pittman, a Leavenworth Democrat, said it felt like Northeast Kansas was having its identity stripped away by the Ad Astra map. He moved to send the measure back to the committee for further consideration for further public input." "But Sen. Jeff Pittman, D-Leavenworth, said similar consideration was not given to pairing the state's two largest military institutions, Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley, in the same district. "We're wringing our hands on how we slice up northeast Kansas," Pittman said. "We're putting all the focus on Wyandotte (County), Lawrence and pulling them into all the other districts. CD2 doesn't have an identity in this new map. Northeast Kansas has an identity.""

GENERAL ORDERS On Thursday, the Senate took up two critical bills that will provide much-needed relief to Kansans. The first, HB 2477, codifies the executive orders issued by Governor Kelly earlier this month to help assist our hospitals and healthcare facilities facing staffing shortages due to skyrocketing COVID cases. The bill passed by a vote of 36-2. The House convened Thursday evening to concur with the technical amendments made in our chamber, and Governor Kelly signed the bill Friday afternoon. The second bill, SB 318, provides relief to farmers and ranchers affected by the wildfires experienced earlier this winter and includes provisions that will ensure this relief is available to them in the event of future wildfires. This bill provides a sales tax exemption for purchases to reconstruct, repair, or replace certain fencing damaged or destroyed by wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. I supported an amendment that allows counties to abate property tax for non-residential structures destroyed by natural disasters, like the tornado which hit Leavenworth County a few years ago. The Senate passed the bill unanimously, and it now awaits action by the House.

COMMITTEE WORK Committee work is heating up across the Capitol. Many different committees are starting the work of looking at bills from last year, holding hearings in the House and Senate, and looking at new bills that may be reviewed this year. Budget hearings are also underway. For example, in the House, Corrections workers came to the Capitol to advocate for sustaining the raises (known as 24/7 raises that went to corrections and veteran home workers) that the governor put in place at the end of 2021. Counselors and other non-officers also advocate for including them in the raises needed to help keep our institutions working safely.

In Financial Institutions this week, we heard about the need to update our state statutes to help those with disabilities. We passed out SB 329 : an Act concerning persons with disabilities; relating to income taxation, ABLE savings accounts. This will ensure Kansas compliance with Federal regulations to allow the program to continue. ( I was happy to sit in for a colleague on the Commerce committee this week. There is an economic development bill called Apex2022 which allows for incentivizing so called MegaProjects. I liked it in that it is the first such program in the US that looks at the mega-investor ($1Bil+) and the corresponding suppliers, effectively looking at incentives for a supply chain versus just the one business. The bill that enables this is SB347 (

GOVERNOR KELLY DEPLOYS KANSAS NATIONAL GUARD TO ASSIST WITH COVID-19 RESPONSE Governor Laura Kelly announced additional efforts the State is taking to combat COVID-19. Governor Kelly deployed 80 nonmedical Soldiers and Airmen from the Kansas National Guard to support the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s (KDHE) testing sites across the state and assist with the shipment and delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, Governor Kelly engaged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to provide limited acute care and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for temporary medical treatment of non-eligible VA individuals to help reduce the strain on Kansas hospitals. Military medical professionals in the Kansas Guard, already filling positions at medical facilities in their communities, will stay in their respective communities. The nonmedical Soldiers and Airmen will be on federal orders for 31 days to assist the additional efforts.

CAVALRY ANGELS Last year, they won the National Championship for Drill. Leavenworth High School JROTC Leavenworth Cavalry Angels brought their winning intensity today as they demonstrated a drill routine in the Capitol rotunda. Glad they were able to meet Governor Laura Kelly and be recognized for their accomplishment by the Senate. We had a great day touring the Capitol.

SOME UPCOMING HEARINGS Abolish Food Sales Tax - HB2484/2487 and SB318 Ban No Knock Warrants - HB2133 KanCare 4 year lock - HB2463 Tying the hands of the governor to make changes to KanCare. Anti-renewable Energy - SB323/324/325

LANSING VOLLEYBALL STATE CHAMPIONS The 2021 season of the Lansing High School Volleyball was defined by facing and overcoming adversity, winning 38 of 39 matches. Each practice, each rep, each game got them closer to that goal and with student leadership. Through that determination and experience they were able to win STATE! It was an honor to host the state champions at the Capitol.

ENCOURAGE COVID VACCINES & BOOSTERS I continue to encourage you to get the Covid vaccine and associated boosters. It helps protect you and our vulnerable citizens.

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