March 4, day 47 of the 2020 legislative session, I was in the leadership office receiving an update by KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman about the coronavirus (COVID-19): Do not shake hands, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer, etc. Day 51, Mark and I attended Wichita State Shocker game, they won, possibly making the NCAA tournament. March 12, the NCAA tournament was canceled for the first time since it began in 1939. Day 56, March 13, the Kansas House of Representatives were challenged by a possible colleague having coronavirus. The individual tested negative the following day, but it heightened concern about the spread of the virus under the dome.
Day 66, March 16, the House and Senate tried to finish session one week early. Another leadership update on coronavirus, led to emergency actions taken to limit exposure, schools ordered closed, 10-year transportation plan passes in the Senate Day 67, the State Budget passes and goes to conference. Day 68, KDHE Secretary Norman gives an update to all senators to answers questions about coronavirus. Concerns of exposure and spread in our state the underlining factor. Day 69, budget, transportation plan, and emergency orders passed, session adjourned until April 27.
It has been a very intense past couple of weeks as the legislature worked to get base line laws and a budget in place before leaving town. The coronavirus is not anything like we as a country and world have dealt with since the Spanish flu around 1918. Decisions are being made daily for the health and safety of Kansans. Our leaders continue to evaluate the impacts of laid off workers and the impacts to economy.
I will continue to provide you with updates on COVID-19 as it impacts Kansas on my Constant Contact (sign up through this email, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to be on the list). I will also provide links for other information that may be helpful such small business loans, etc.
Of all years to stay on schedule with our budget work, this was the one. Our committee did not put most of our work off until omnibus but rather dealt with difficult issues and decided to put priorities in the budget early. We had a very thorough budget that was scrutinized during debate on the Senate floor before going into conference with the House. The budget passed after negotiations with the House and was designed to provide the safety net needed in the event we do not come back for veto session.
Just hours before adjourning, I was honored to carry our fourth 10-year transportation plan on the Senate floor. This is about having safe roads for our families and provide the proper infrastructure for the growth of economic development of our state. This year’s commitment will add another benefit to our state, Kansas jobs to help us on our road to recovery once the Coronavirus settles down.
This bill promises to finish the T-Works projects under the last 10-year plan first. It will provide money to do expansion and modernization projects such as the north junction in north Wichita, which connects several arterial major highways to other counties. For the first time ever, there will be an opportunity for large urban areas to use tolling (only three over the 10-year period) to aid with traffic congestion. The first that would most likely occur would be in Johnson County. Minimal alternative delivery was added to speed large projects up and potentially save money. Finally, the name for the project was called the “Eisenhower Legacy Plan.”
For everyone’s safety, we had to cancel the remainder of pages that signed up to serve at the capitol. We will have to look at next year for the next opportunity. I want to thank everyone for all your emails, letters and calls this past session. Your input is very valuable to the process. Not all bills made it through the entire process, I will be assessing what was left on the calendar and providing you with an update on my Constant Contact. If we return for veto, they will be addressed.
— Carolyn McGinn is a Republican member of the Kansas Senate, who has represented the 31st District since 2005.