County’s kids deserve more than just sound-bites,
empty rhetoric and election year promises.
need advocates in Topeka willing to stand up
for their needs and enact education policies
which will equip them to become tomorrow’s
Representative Ray Merrick is just that kind
of leader…with a voting record to back
has worked as our legislator to protect our
schools, increase their funding and raise our
Merrick has consistently worked and voted to
increase the local option for Johnson County
Schools. He has been an outspoken critic of
our state’s education finance formula
which robs Johnson County schools of Johnson
County tax dollars.
most importantly, as an experienced lawmaker
Ray Merrick has the knowledge and commitment
to give us more local control over the tax dollars
that fund our schools.
the father of Blue Valley graduates, no one
knows better than Ray Merrick the importance
of a good education. Johnson County kids need
Ray Merrick to continue fighting for them. He
is their biggest ally in Topeka.
For more information on the legislature, please visit my legislative website at www.ksprotem.org.
While the Legislature did not take conclusive action on illegal immigration this year, I did propose legislation which would ensure Kansas enforces Federal immigration law. In House Bill 2945 I authored strong language to protect Kansas’ tax payers by prohibiting state agencies from spending on services to illegal aliens. This bill also provided for accountability within our state government to ensure these federal laws were being enforced. Unfortunately, my bill did not get a hearing until the last day of session and was not completed in a timely fashion for the House or Senate to debate it. While we strive to make Kansas a better home for all legal citizens, I believe it is imperative we welcome those who would come here legally and not reward those who do not.
Also this year, I introduced a bill to create a Health Care for Seniors Fund. This bill would create a special fund in the Department of Aging to distribute certain additional tobacco litigation settlement proceeds to seniors for the rising cost of health care. I will be continuing to do what I can at the state level to reduce health care costs and general living costs for seniors and fight to bring this bill before the whole House for passage.
Taxes & Business
I was proud to see the House of Representatives pass several substantial tax relief bills which will save the constituents of the 27th District their hard-earned dollars. Not only will these tax cuts benefit our individual pocket books in the near future, but they will stimulate economic growth in Kansas and enable the state to budget more efficiently for other priorities. The House passed the phasing out of the Machinery and Equipment Tax which inhibited start-up companies from buying heavy equipment and much needed supplies. Also, we passed the elimination (phase-out) of the Estate Tax. We also expanded the list of organizations that are exempted from paying sales tax, passed a bill restoring uniformity to local sales tax provisions relating to cities, and expanded the income tax credit program for certain qualified adoptions. These should all stimulate economic growth and benefit our small businesses.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision that private property could be seized using eminent domain for purposes of economic development, I have heard many concerns from constituents. It was evident Kansas needed to limit this authority to protect your property while still allowing the government to acquire property for things like utilities and roads. This legislation passed, after much debate on how stringent it should be. Though not the strongest language, I believe this legislation should protect property owners in the 27th District from having their land taken by the city to be given to a developer for “economic development” just because the landowner wants to use the property as they see fit.
House Bill 2576 increases prison sentences for repeat sexual offenders, specifically those who prey on children. Modeled after a law passed in Florida following the Jessica Lunsford tragedy, this bill increases the sentences for a first time offense to 25 years to life, a second offense to 40 years to life, and a third offense would result in life without parole. Jessica’s Law passed unanimously.
After years of debate, another school finance plan has passed both the House and the Senate. This additional bill pumps another $466 million into our public schools. This is in addition to the $143 and $142 million we added to the annual school budget last year. Unfortunately, this large amount of money comes without policy provisions enabling the state to hold school districts accountable for how the money is spent, how the court mandates spending, or how budgets are reported to the Legislature and the public. Two weeks prior, a bill gained the support of most Republicans which had these policy provisions and slightly less total dollars. This bill, which I helped draft, would have been much better for Johnson County schools. However, in the final vote many of my colleagues joined with the Democrats to kill this bill hoping to get even more money for schools without the accountability provisions. I am afraid this ultimately led to the final bill which does very little if anything at all for Johnson County schools. Essentially, Johnson County had its chance and with only a few representatives fighting for it, we lost.
Age of Marital Consent
House Bill 2541 was introduced to respond to the much publicized case of a 22 year-old man coming to Kansas from Nebraska to marry his 14 year-old girlfriend. Such a marriage is already prohibited in Nebraska. The new bill established the minimum age for people to marry in Kansas as 16, with a provision for a judge to allow a 15 year-old to marry if the judge finds it in the child’s best interests.