The retiring U.S. representative for Atchison and most of eastern Kansas will visit town this weekend.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican, will join state Rep. John Eplee, R-Atchison, at 9 a.m. today at the Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce’s second legislative coffee event of the year, which it sponsors with the Atchison Medicalodge. The gathering will take place at the Santa Fe Depot, 200 S. 10th St.
Jenkins announced in January 2017 she will not seek election to the House of Representatives for a sixth time despite winning more than 60 percent of the vote in 2016. Jenkins will serve until Jan. 3, 2019, and then pass the torch to a new legislator, who will be elected Nov. 6 this year.
“I’m happy for her,” Eplee said Thursday via electronic message. “She really wants to retire and that is great. She will not be replaced easily.”
Her planned departure has stirred significant national interest, with two Democrats and seven Republicans having entered the race; more entries are possible before the June 1 filing deadline.
Jenkins defeated Democrat Nancy Boyda in her first election in 2008, but the district is mostly red: President Donald Trump won it by 56 percent in 2016. However, the Cook Political Report, an online publication based in Washington, D.C., considers the district competitive.
“You will understand this better as we roll through a fascinating election in the 2nd district,” Eplee said.
Calls to Jenkins’ Topeka office asking for comment on the impending visit did not receive an immediate reply.
Jacque Pregont, president of the Atchison chamber, said having Jenkins come to the legislative coffee is a rare treat.
“She has always been really good about making it to one,” Pregont said Thursday via electronic message. “We’re happy to have her do that. Most federal (elected officials) don’t come with any regularity to our legislative coffees. Once in a while we will have an additional one if needed.”
For his part, Eplee said he expects to focus mostly on what he hears most from his constituents about, no matter the time or the clime: Taxes.
“(I’ll be) answering questions about how we spend — waste — their money,” Eplee said. “It can be totally unpredictable about where we go from time to time.”
In addition, Eplee anticipates discussing:
— HB 2254, relating to the regulation of telehealth, the practice of patient communication with distant physicians remotely linked via telecommunication. The bill, if enacted, would empower the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts to approve and oversee doctor-patient relationships via telehealth services if the physicians involved have all required certifications and licenses, while providing care that does not require physical contact.
— SB 117, relating to noxious weeds. The bill, if enacted, would add the everbearing blackberry and the Himalayan blackberry to the state noxious weed list, which various government agencies spend resources attempting to eradicate.
— HB 2029, relating to cannabidiol. The bill, if enacted, would open the door to legalized sale of cannabis-derivative products that are legal in other states, including Missouri, which have had the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) removed. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt ruled in January such products are illegal under current law. In the last year, some Kansas vendors of the product have had their product seized, or shipped it out of the state to avoid police raids, according to The Kansas City Star.
— The state of K-12 education funding. Per a ruling last fall by the Kansas Supreme Court, Kansas must provide $600 to $700 million extra for school districts to pass constitutional muster. Momentum is gathering to adopt a constitutional amendment depriving the court of its authority on this question, although 2/3 of members in both the Kansas House of Representatives and Kansas Senate must agree to it before it is added to the Nov. 6 ballot.
— The state’s quest to generate more tax revenue. With news this week that Kansas reported February tax revenues $27 million above expectations, according to The Associated Press, the days of scrambling to pay the bills common from 2013 to 2016 seem to be in the rear-view mirror. However, the state’s balance sheets are likely to become more troubled if the school funding ruling remains in place. Gov. Jeff Colyer and legislative leaders have repeatedly vowed to block any tax increases, instead vowing to grow the economy to a point where the state has the money it needs.
— Other bills on shared parenting and cyber security.
”I think our local representatives especially are, and have been, very willing to discuss and spend time with people going over the issues,” Pregont said. “So I feel our public knows that they legitimately ‘have their ear,’ and that makes it worth their time.”
For more information, reach Eplee at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 785-296-8621.