South Central Kansas lawmakers learn what you want in 2019

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Kansas lawmakers are headed back to work next week.  Here in South Central Kansas, they spent a few hours Thursday learning more about what you hope to get out of this next session.

"The goal is that we all hear the same information at the same time, regarding the budget, school funding, the mayor's wish list, the county's wish list," said Sen. Oletha Faust Goudeau, (D) Wichita.  "So that we as a delegation can go back and advocate for that."

About fifty Kansas lawmakers belong to the group called the South Central Kansas Caucus.  They meet before the beginning of every legislative session and regularly during the session.  Those at Thursday's meeting were ready to get back to work.

"We need to know what are the issues, what's going on in the south central district," said Rep. Susan Humphries, (R) Wichita.

Among the folks they heard from were members of the Sedgwick County Commission and Wichita City Council.

They want state lawmakers to work on things such as mental health, taxes, and voting issues, not to mention the county would like to ditch daylight saving time.  Law enforcement would like to see stricter penalties for felons caught carrying guns.

"I have found it helpful to understand what are the unique issues to South Central Kansas," said Humphries. 

But, while everyone in the room Thursday heard the same information, each will walk away with his or her own ideas about what to do.  Convincing other lawmakers to agree is the real work they'll be doing starting next week at the statehouse.

"There has been times that we all went back and as a delegation supported legislation that is good for our state," said Faust Goudeau.

Given the diversity of the state lawmakers from South Central Kansas that doesn't happen nearly as often as some might like.

Thursday, a disagreement over how to organize the group led to a heated confrontation.

"I object.  This is a non-debatable motion... the motion is.. the motion is..." 

Rep. John Carmichael's voice got louder and louder to be heard over the responses of Sen. Ty Masterson, (R) Andover. 

"Point of order is always in order!" Masterson retorted.

The debate was over whether to elect a chair for the caucus on Thursday or next week, after the legislative session starts.

The root of the argument dates back to changes over the last four years as the group has gone back and forth over whether to continue a power sharing arrangement between Republicans and Democrats.

For voters the real question is do these short tempers point to a tumultuous session once lawmakers go back to work in Topeka?  Especially with a Democrat taking over the governor's office but conservative Republicans returning with a stronger majority in the legislature.

"I wouldn't put too much into this," said Rep, John Carmichael, (D) Wichita.  "I think we will have much bigger fish to fry and I will also confess that Senator Masterson and I, we have a fun relationship and we both enjoy an animated debate."

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