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Senator files bills for ethics reform, term limits

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Constituents should let lawmakers know how they feel about proposed legislation -- whether they agree or not, officials with the Bourbon County Republican Central Committee said.

This can be done via email, letter or phone call, party officials said during a Jan. 15 meeting in the Heritage Room of the administration building at Fort Scott Community College. The gathering attracted about 15 members and five guests.

When residents contact lawmakers such as Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, Rep. Marty Read, R-Mound City, and Sen. Jake LaTurner, R-Pittsburg, it will likely be the legislator themselves who reads the correspondence, not a staffer. A valuable addition to the GOP meetings would be a legislative update, the group agreed.

It was also suggested that party meetings be posted on the Kansas Republican Party's website, so more people would see it.

Lawmakers were sworn in and the Kansas legislative session began last Monday. Of the 125 House members, 92 are Republicans and 33 are Democrats. In the 40-member Senate, 32 are Republicans and eight are Democrats.

Before the session began, LaTurner introduced ethics reform bills, which include term limits, according to his Facebook page.

"I've listened for years as Kansans demanded accountability from their elected leaders," LaTurner said on his page. "Until now, those pleas have fallen on deaf ears in Topeka, but no longer. I ran to ensure the people have an advocate in the legislature, and there isn't time to waste in passing this critical legislation."

LaTurner has proposed a three-pronged plan to "combat corruption and secrecy in state government." The first would cap service in the Senate at two terms and the House of Representatives at four terms. Senators serve four-year terms and House members, two years and currently there is no limit to the number of terms they can serve.

"Fresh ideas from new members are critical to keeping Kansas moving forward, and entrenched power is bad for us at all levels. Kansas should be run by citizen legislators from a cross-section of our great state, not career politicians," LaTurner wrote.

Second is a bill designed to bring all entities more in line with the spirit of Kansas Open Meetings Act, he wrote. It would require minutes to be kept and made available of all meetings. "If KOMA applies, minutes need to be taken," LaTurner said. "The vast majority of Kansans aren't able to attend these meetings, but they still deserve to know what took place."

It also caps the cost of state documents at 25 cents per page, including administrative costs. "Access to public documents should never be a revenue ploy, and it shouldn't be limited to the wealthy," LaTurner wrote.

Lastly, LaTurner seeks to prohibit former legislators from becoming lobbyists until one full year has passed since their service as an elected official.

"The most appalling conflict of interest in the state is the revolving door between the legislature and lobbying groups," he wrote. "Serving in the legislature shouldn't be a get-rich-quick scheme, and furthermore it shifts the balance of power decidedly away from the people and into the hands of special interests."

Another bill mentioned Tuesday is one allowing for medical marijuana.

"There are going to be a lot of things coming up that are going to be important," party chairman Chris Maycumber said.

Maycumber said the local GOP has filled its committee man and woman positions, all except for the fourth ward committee woman spot. If anyone is interested, they should contact Maycumber at Mayco ACE Hardware, 223-2670.

Currently, the party is meeting quarterly. The next gathering is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 16 in the Heritage Room of the administration building at FSCC.

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