After legislators Rep. Don Schroeder and Sen. Carolyn McGinn concluded their presentations on the happenings in Topeka, the pair took questions from the audience.
Question: How can crony-ism be prevented in the judicial system if the Governor is allowed to pick judges?
McGinn: It’s a concern.
If you have judges, you don’t fire judges. They either die or they retire.
One of the most important protections is due process. When you have to stand before a judge, you want one that is impartial and fair – not one that is political.
So, the governor will pick and then the person will go through senate confirmation. And, we are a citizen legislature. If we have to go up there when it isn’t during session, we won’t have any staff.
You have people in different areas of life, and they’re not supposed to know how to pick a good judge.
Question: I’m concerned about KanCare.
Insurance companies are making calls to 90-year-old people and these people don’t know how to answer. There needs to be someone to come in and talk to them. I’ve gotten a couple of these calls, and they just kept throwing questions at me.
McGinn: If you get any more of those calls, direct them to my office.
Question: How is the state of Kansas involved in the Affordable Care Act and how that’s all going to develop in October.
I understand that several months ago, if we wanted to sign our own exchange the federal government would give us $31 million and Brownback said no. If we don’t set our own up, then people in Kansas have to go through the federal exchange.
I never heard anything about the legislature being involved in any way. And now, as I understand it, come October 15 me and everyone else must determine from a set group of plans which one we want, what they’ll cost and cover. And, is this all going to be federal or are we going to be doing this? I’m confused and concerned. I’d rather see anything like this come through the state than federal.
Schroeder: I’m confused too.
The committees I’m on are a long way away form answering those questions.
Your information is correct. The $31 million was turned back by the governor. That [money] was intended to upgrade computers. That wasn’t toward Obamacare.
The federal government will set up an insurance exchange for us since the governor, primarily, has decided not to do that.
As far as timelines et cetera, I follow as best can.
McGinn: You’re right. It’s in the governor’s hands, unfortunately. He had another opportunity to make a decision to get on the ramp; and he said no
Question: why can’t the legislature get involved? Why is this just the governor?
McGinn: I’d have to do some homework. But I keep hearing it’s in governor’s hands.
Question: Was I understanding we will be voting in the primary election on the proper education for kids? Who’s going to develop it? Is it going to be a committee selected by the governor? Will we know what we’re voting for or is it going to be a 700-page bill?
McGinn: You will be voting on suitability as defined by the legislature. And they’ll define that by how much to give to the education budget.
Schroeder: As a side note on amendments. I believe there can be a max of two on any one election. I think that’s correct. There will be a max of two, and if you add them all up, there are six or seven proposals. We’ll find out which ones come to the top and get on the ballot.
Question: The governor is talking about every child reads at 3rd grade, but has he pulled out money for preschool so kids are ready to go to school
McGinn: Kansas Reads To Succeed, he just put $6 million into. It’s a new program and another million for incentive. At one point, it was every 4th grader. If a male child isn’t engaged by 3rd grade, we’ve lost him.
Schroeder: I’ve had a number of conversations with parents and teachers. It needs to be done earlier.
Question: We have an ELF program in this state - early learning forward - and that’s supposed to be preparing them to go on. Garden City has this program and not sure if Newton does or not.
Schroeder: Personally, I have concerns and had it expressed my thoughts as someone who represents rural schools.
Any time you target money to programs in education, at some point that came out of base state aid per pupil which is for weightings for transportation, special ed etcetera.
The base state aid is something that, when put into formula, helps rural schools more than targeted programs.