BY CORIE LYNN
Waking early Saturday morning, Ellis county locals found themselves in the FHSU Memorial Union Ballroom, sipping cups of coffee and meeting their legislators.
The morning’s event, hosted by the Chamber in Hays, was Legislative Coffee. From 7:30 to 9:30, area residents were able to meet their representatives in the state and national governments.
The representatives in attendance were Rep. Troy Waymaster, Rep. Barb Wasinger, Rep. Ken Rahjes, Rep. Leonard Mastroni, and State Sen. Rick Billinger. Also in attendance were Congressman Roger Marshall and Alex Richards representing Sen. Jerry Moran.
With the intention of updating constituents on governmental processes as well as answering questions, each legislator took to the stage to discuss legislation and local issues.
Varying from the tax on streaming services, such as Netflix, to the shortage of workers for the elderly and disabled, the state representatives answered questions regarding pressing issues.
The first topic of discussion was that of state legislation on abortion, which was heavily discussed in Topeka the day prior. It was during this time that Sen. Billinger assured the audience that legislation in progress is not a complete ban on abortion and that Kansas did not have rules previously.
“[The State is] trying to get resolution passed and it will go to you people for a vote,” Sen. Billinger said.
Rep. Wasinger later reiterated this point while adding that resolution will work for the safety of women and that there will “always be exceptions for instances of rape and incest.”
The legislators later discussed federal rollback on environmental measures and how this would affect Kansans.
On this topic, the legislators emphasized that the State works to protect environmental necessities. Kansas water, in particular, is allocated funds to ensure its preservation. It was during this time that Rep. Wasinger pointed out that that state is a major agricultural state with farmers and ranchers playing a large part in its function.
“Why would we pollute their air and water?” she said.
Following discussion by the state legislators, Richard and Marshall answered questions on national legislation. While both addressed the topic of regulations on plant-based beef and unemployment, they each placed an emphasis on supporting veterans.
This included answering the question of opening a new VA hospital in rural Kansas. Richard explained that it is difficult to start such a large hospital while Marshall said he is hesitant to push for a new hospital. He was supportive, however, of improving rural care and making it “more efficient.”
At the conclusion of the panel, Linda North, a local Kansan in attendance, said that she was glad to hear the representatives address the issues that rural Kansans are most concerned about.
As audience members began to leave, the legislators continued to meet their constituents individually and answer their questions. It was during this time that Rep. Wasinger that the state government is working hard for their citizens as they continue to meet their constituents and work on legislation important to them.