Category Archives: Kansas

Governor’s Statement of Kansas House Passing Abortion Amendment

Governor Laura Kelly’s Statement on Kansas House Passing Abortion Constitutional Amendment

TOPEKA – The following is Governor Laura Kelly’s statement in response to the Kansas House of Representatives’ passage of an amendment to the Kansas Constitution to reverse the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision that abortion is a constitutional right under the state.

“I’ve always believed that every woman’s reproductive decisions should be left to her, her family, and her physician. While I know others do not share my belief, I don’t think those supporting this amendment are aware of the consequences it will have for the state of Kansas and our reputation.

“We already know how this ends – North Carolina’s notorious bathroom bill cost that state nearly $4 billion in economic development – and this amendment has the same potential to do irreparable damage to our COVID-19 economic recovery efforts and our long-term prospects to recruit businesses and workforce talent.”

Learn More About Broadband Development In Kansas

Governor Laura Kelly, Department of Commerce Seek Public Input for Broadband Office Grant Program

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced that the Kansas Department of Commerce has established an opportunity for the public to learn more about the Office of Broadband Development’s Broadband Acceleration Grant program and provide input on grant requests proposed for communities across Kansas.

The goal is to gather public input regarding the grant applications and associated service areas in an effort to ensure transparency in the broadband development process. The project proposals and proposed service area maps for each grant application are posted online, along with a public comment form for those wishing to express support or share concerns regarding a project.  These resources will be posted online through Feb. 1.

“Since I took office, my administration has been committed to promoting transparency and accountability in state government – and we want to ensure that Kansans are engaged when it comes to best practices regarding broadband development in our state,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Connectivity is one of our top priorities, and effectively funding projects across Kansas will be a critical part of this mission. I would encourage any Kansan who wants to participate in this process to send us a comment.”

Service providers are also encouraged to submit comments and corresponding documentation should an area proposed to be served already has service available, construction is underway or planned in areas proposed to be served and will be completed within 12 months. The comments and evidence provided will be considered in the evaluation of the Acceleration Grant applications and determining final investment awards.

“As we go through the process of funding broadband projects across Kansas, we need to hear from you,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland said. “We are committed to transparency in everything we do. These funds are for establishing critical broadband infrastructure across Kansas, and we want input directly from people in our Kansas communities. If you have something to tell us about a proposed project near you, we’re listening.”

Commenters may be asked to provide additional information and/or work with the Kansas Office of Broadband Development (KOBD) to validate service availability. If a commenter is found to have submitted inaccurate information, comment submissions will be disregarded.

A link to the Public Comment page containing the proposed projects and associated proposed service area maps is available here.

Grant applicants that receive comments for their proposed project during the public comment period will have an opportunity to respond between Feb. 2-9.

About the Kansas Department of Commerce

As the state’s lead economic development agency, the Kansas Department of Commerce strives to empower individuals, businesses and communities to achieve prosperity in Kansas. Commerce accomplishes its mission by developing relationships with corporations, site location consultants and stakeholders in Kansas, the nation and world. Our strong partnerships allow us to help create an environment for existing Kansas businesses to grow and foster an innovative, competitive landscape for new businesses.

About the Kansas Office of Broadband Development

The Kansas Office of Broadband Development was established in 2020 to help ensure that all Kansans have the opportunity to live, work, learn and compete in a global economy by improving universal access to quality, affordable and reliable broadband. The Office is housed within the Community Development Division of the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Kansas COVID-19 Phase 2 To Begin

Governor Laura Kelly Announces Kansas Moves to Phase 2 of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly will announce tomorrow the statewide move to Phase 2 of Kansas’ COVID-19 vaccination plan. With this move, all those aged 65+, those in eligible congregate settings, and all high-contact critical workers will now be prioritized for vaccination, in addition to any one from Phase 1 who has not yet been vaccinated.

“After moving quickly to vaccinate close to 130,000 frontline health care workers and Kansas seniors, my administration has worked with local health departments and providers to prepare to move Kansas into Phase 2,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “While it’s important to remember that the rate of vaccinations will be dependent on the amount we receive from the federal government, we use every tool available to make vaccine delivery transparent, efficient, and fast in order to reach as many Kansans as possible.”

Approximately 1 million Kansans are in Phase 2 but the next weekly supply of vaccine from the federal government contains approximately 45,000 new first doses so not everyone in Phase 2 will be able to receive their vaccine immediately. Each county, through local health departments, will decide how their limited supply of the doses will be allocated by population groups.

Critically, to drive transparency, a vaccine dashboard is available that includes key metrics that will be updated three times a week. In addition to the dashboard, in the coming weeks, the State of Kansas will launch a “Find my Vaccine” mapping tool, so Kansans can locate sites that are offering vaccine administration in their communities.

Governor Kelly and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) ask for your patience while federal supply remains low and for those in prioritized populations to contact their local health departments to learn more about when they will begin to inoculate Phase 2 populations and how they will prioritize within that group or anyone remaining in Phase 1 who has not received the vaccine.

To assist vaccine distribution efforts, Governor Kelly also announced today the appointment of Marci Nielsen, PhD, MPH to Chief Advisor for COVID-19 Coordination and Seth Konkel to the role of Special Advisor for COVID-19 Vaccination.

“With significant experience in public health and operations between them, Marci and Seth will be valuable sources of support to my team and the team at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as vaccine supply increases,” Governor Kelly said. “I am pleased to have them on board.”

Additional information

Phase 2 Guidelines:

  • Persons aged 65 and older
  • High-contact critical workers necessary to maintain systems, assets, and activities that are vital to the state security, the economy or public health, or who interact with large numbers of contacts and job-related COVID-19 exposure. COVID-19 risk is associated with the likelihood of infecting oneself or spreading the virus. Factors that increase risk include proximity, type of contact, duration of contacts and challenges to implement protective measures. This includes:
    o Firefighters, police officers, first responders, and correction officers
    o Grocery store workers and food services
    o K-12 and childcare workers, including teachers, custodians, drivers, &
    other staff
    o Food processing, including meat processing plants
    o Large-scale aviation manufacturing plants
    o Transportation workers
    o Workers in retail, agriculture, supply of critical services or materials for COVID-19 response, the U.S. Postal Service, and Department of motor vehicles
  • Those living or working in licensed congregate settings and other special care or congregate environments where social distancing is not possible, including:
    o Homeless shelters
    o Congregate childcare institutions
    o Emergency shelters or safe houses
    o Corrections facilities
    o Behavioral health institutions

View a visual representation of the distribution order here.

View informational slides regarding vaccine distribution here.

Kansas COVID 19 Vaccine Dashboard

Governor Kelly Announces Kansas COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard

TOPEKA – Today, Governor Laura Kelly is announcing a new COVID-19 vaccine dashboard in Kansas. A collaboration with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the COVID-19 dashboard will be updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday by 12:30 PM.

As of January 20, Kansas has:

  • Vaccinated 111,905 people,
  • Administered 129,349 total vaccine doses,
  • Distributed 202,225 vaccine doses.

To view the COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, click here.

Evergy’s Sustainability Transformation Plan: How It Will Affect Rates

KCC will hold virtual workshop on Wednesday to discuss Evergy’s STP

What:                   The Kansas Corporation Commission will be conducting the third of four virtual workshops designed to learn more about Evergy’s Sustainability Transformation Plan and how it will affect ratepayers.

 

When:                  Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 10 a.m.

 

Where:                 The workshop will be broadcast on the KCC’s YouTube Channel.

Details:                Each workshop will cover a specific topic related to the plan. The subject of Wednesday’s workshop is Enhanced Customer Experience. Evergy representatives will make a presentation followed by questions from Commissioners and intervenors in the general investigation docket. The Commission opened the investigation to evaluate whether the STP is in the public interest.

 

The general investigation docket is available on the KCC’s website at:

https://estar.kcc.ks.gov/estar/portal/kscc/PSC/DocketDetails.aspx?DocketId=5bf302bc-3a8c-4bd9-8652-fd3e63161bc5

 

Food Safety Webinar Offered

KDA Offers Food Safety Webinar Series in 2021

 

MANHATTAN, Kansas — The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s food safety and lodging program will offer monthly online webinars on food safety issues beginning Monday, January 25, 2021. The free webinar series will cover a variety of food safety issues that are of interest to food business operators, managers and workers.

 

Each 30-minute webinar will consist of a presentation by food safety and lodging inspectors from across the state, followed by an opportunity for participants to ask questions of the presenters and other KDA-FSL staff. These webinars are an outreach of the Food Protection Task Force, which serves to expand the knowledge base of the food and feed industry in Kansas. The FPTF creates connections and relationships which foster collaboration when developing materials and strategies for intervention, prevention and response to foodborne illness.

 

The first six months of the webinar series have been scheduled. Each presentation will take place at 3:00 p.m. CST.

 

January 25      Remote Food Safety Inspections During COVID-19

February 22    Choosing the Right Practice: Cooling and Reheating of Foods

March 29        Food Safety on the Go: Food Trucks, Trailers, Tents and Carts

April 26          Staying Ahead of the Game: What Food Service Managers Need to Know

May 24           Dealing With Pests in a Food Establishment

June 28           Limiting the Spread of Germs: How Employees Can Make a Difference

 

Registration for the January and February online webinars is now open. Register on the KDA Food Protection Task Force page at www.agriculture.ks.gov/FPTF. There is no cost to participate, but you must register to receive the login access information.

For more information about the webinar series or about food safety in Kansas, contact the KDA food safety and lodging program at 785-564-6767 or kda.fsl@ks.gov.

 

This webinar series serves to support KDA’s mission, which includes a commitment to providing an environment that enhances and encourages economic growth and helping to ensure a safe food supply, promoting public health and safety, and providing consumer protection.

 

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Legislative Update by State Senator Caryn Tyson

Caryn Tyson

 

January 15, 2021

 

The 2021 session began with state legislators taking an oath Monday, January 11, 2021 to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Kansas Constitution.  This happens every four years in the senate and two years in the house.  It is a reminder of our duty and the foundation in which our forefathers established and defended.

 

This session is already unique because of the pandemic.  However, it is not unique because of the political games and posturing being played in Topeka – which are disappointing and not what Kansans need or deserve.  The gamesmanship and politics surfaced quickly, when legislators opposing bills cried foul at the pace, in an attempt to block legislation.  Most people understand we need to complete our work as expeditiously as possible.

 

Property Tax Transparency, Senate Bill (SB) 13, was available the week before session, as was the Senate Tax Committee schedule.  This legislation was contained in last year’s bill CCR HB 2702, that passed both chambers with a supermajority.  However, it did not became law because a taxpayer funded government lobbyist asked the Governor to veto the bill and she did.  It was at the end of session and time ran out for a veto override.  It makes sense to work the legislation at the beginning of the 2021 session, which gives plenty of time for passage.  Hopefully, we may not need a veto override because the Governor may realize how important transparency is to Kansas taxpayers.

 

SB13 has four major parts.  First, it would establish a process in the property tax system so that property taxes would not automatically increase but would require a vote of the local government to bring in more money than the previous year.  This would stop the shell game of automatic valuation increases resulting in more taxes owed; second, normal maintenance would not increase the valuation of a property; third, county treasurers would have an option to establish payment plans for property taxes; and fourth, it would remove the property tax lid that has resulted in tax increases in many counties over the past few years.  The bill passed the Senate 34 to 1.  I voted Yes.

 

Emergency Power Extension, SB 14, would extend the Governor’s emergency powers thru March 31, 2021.  Kansas is a part-time legislature and has often turned over legislative authority to the Governor in an emergency.  This pandemic has demonstrated that is dangerous.  The Governor attempted to shutdown churches on Easter weekend, demanded a statewide shutdown of many businesses, attempted to implement a statewide mask mandate, and the list goes on.  However, the bill passed the Senate 34 to 1.  As with most legislation, there was some good items in the bill.  It was not enough to sway me to support the bill after hearing your concerns of government overreach.  During debate, one senator tried to kill the bill and said we shouldn’t let federal money sway us from doing what is right.  I guess that senator lost their intestinal fortitude because when it came time to vote, that person chose not to vote yes or no on the bill.

 

As we face uncertain times, keep in mind Plato’s words, “Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others”  and the words of Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream,  It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.”

 

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.

Caryn

Kansas Capital Complex Closes Jan. 19-20

Governor Laura Kelly to Close Capitol Complex, Administration Buildings Tuesday and Wednesday

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly announced the State Office Buildings in the Capitol Complex, which includes Curtis, Landon, and Eisenhower, will be closed starting tomorrow, January 19, and Wednesday, January 20. Additional administration buildings will also be closed.

“The safety and wellbeing of our employees is my top priority,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “These steps are taken out of an abundance of caution – and I thank all employees for their patience and understanding during this time.”

Employees are instructed to work remotely. If an employee’s regular duties require them to be in the office – and they cannot work from home – they are instructed not to report to work Tuesday, January 19 or Wednesday, January 20.

Governor Kelly encourages agency heads with offices in the immediate surrounding area beyond the State Office Buildings to follow similar procedure.

The Statehouse will be open for individuals having business with the Legislature, Governor’s or Lt. Governor’s Offices. All Statehouse access will be through the Visitor Center entrance only.

SNAP Food Assistance Increases

Kansas Households Receiving Food Assistance Will Receive Added Benefit

Beneficiaries to see 15 percent increase starting in January

 

Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard announced today that benefits through the food assistance program, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will increase temporarily.

The maximum allotments for food assistance will increase 15 percent for each household in January and will continue through June 2021. For the six-month period, the maximum allowable allotment for a family of four has been temporarily increased to $782.

“The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 allows states to provide this additional assistance,” Howard said. “These added funds are imperative to ensure Kansas families have access to food in these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Those that already receive food assistance don’t have to take any action to receive the increased benefit.

In January, funds will come in three issuances: The regular benefit was issued between Jan. 1 – 10 ; the 15 percent temporary increase will be available to each household as a supplement on Jan. 21; and the emergency food assistance allotment will be issued Jan. 22 – 30.

The February through June temporary maximum benefit will be issued on the regular issuance dates of the 1st through 10th of the month. In July, benefits will return to the regular benefit amount.

 

The temporary increase in maximum allotments are:

 

Household Size January 2021 – June 2021 Maximum Benefits
1 $234
2 $430
3 $616
4 $782
5 $929
6 $1114
7 $1232
8 $1408
Each additional person + $176

 

 

The temporary minimum allotment for household size 1 to 2 is $19.

All food assistance benefits are based on household size, household income and allowable deductions.

Those interested in applying for food assistance can visit the DCF website at www.dcf.ks.gov or contact their local service center.

 

Kansas Budget 2022

Header


For Immediate Release:    
January 13, 2021

Contact:    
Reeves Oyster, Press Secretary
Reeves.Oyster@ks.gov

Governor Laura Kelly Announces FY 2022 Kansas Budget to Protect Fiscal Foundation and Kickstart Economic Recovery

~ Governor Kelly’s budget prioritizes COVID-19 response, protects core services, maintains fiscal responsibility ~

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced her third budget recommendation. The fiscally responsible budget protects and invests in core services – like education, infrastructure, and economic development – while keeping Kansas on a path for economic growth.

“All Kansans benefit from good schools, a strong infrastructure, and access to affordable healthcare,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “This fiscally responsible budget protects the critical resources, services, and programs Kansas communities and businesses need to recover and emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever.”

Governor Kelly’s budget protects Kansas public schools, includes funding to expand Medicaid and behavioral health services, allocates $37.5 million to modernize the state’s unemployment system, and maintains fiscal responsibility though a $600.9 million ending balance.

The Kelly budget accomplishes the following critical policy goals necessary to recover and rebuild from COVID-19 without any increases in individual or business income taxes:

  •  Maintaining Fiscal Responsibility: The Governor’s proposed budget for FY 2022 protects critical public services while also stabilizing the state budget during a year of significant economic uncertainty. It leverages federal stimulus dollars and avoids any increases to income taxes for Kansas families and businesses. Due to the Governor’s fiscal leadership during her first term, this year’s recommendation maintains a healthy State General Fund ending balance of $600.9 million.
  • Continuing Record-Breaking Economic Growth: Despite the economic pressures of COVID-19, Kansas recorded more than $2.5 billion in new investment from businesses like Urban Outfitters, Amazon, and Great Plains Manufacturing. These deals, which will bring thousands of quality jobs to Kansas communities, were spurred by the Governor’s investments in rebuilding the Kansas Department of Commerce and its economic development tools. This budget protects these tools by supporting community development programs like the Kansas Main Street Program, protecting funding in the Economic Development Initiatives Fund, and allocating state dollars to hire experienced economic development staff to make Kansas an attractive place to grow a business.
  • Protecting Kansas K-12 Public Schools: In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Kansas had enacted a plan fulfilling the state’s constitutional obligation to adequately and fairly fund public schools. The Governor fully funds this plan in the FY 2022 budget, putting Kansas on track to increase school funding by $388.1 million through FY 2023. This year, despite significant state fiscal challenges brought forth by the pandemic, the Governor has continued her commitment to public education in Kansas by protecting K-12 education funding for the FY 2022 and FY 2023.
  • Expanding Access to Affordable Healthcare and Behavioral Health Services: The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of access to affordable, quality healthcare in protecting the health of Kansans and keeping the state on the path of economic growth. The Governor’s recommendation includes $19 million to expand KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program. The budget also allocates $5 million in additional funding to the Mobile Response and Stabilization Services Program and $3 million for Family Crisis Response and Support services. These programs will expand behavioral health crisis response and triage services to Kansans across the state, including for justice-involved youth and children in foster care.
  • Closing the “Bank of KDOT”: When Governor Kelly entered office, she promised to close the “Bank of KDOT” by the end of her first term. This budget keeps that promise, reducing transfers from the State Highway Fund to $133.7 million in FY 2021 and $66.9 million in FY 2022. In a difficult budget year, Governor Kelly’s budget recommendation to phase out the reliance on the State Highway Fund for general fund purposes will provide the resources necessary to continue critical investments in the comprehensive Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Plan approved during the 2020 Legislative Session.
  • Investing in the State’s Digital Infrastructure: Updating our digital infrastructure is critical to both economic growth and increasing the transparency and accessibility of Kansas’ public services. The Governor’s budget makes substantial investments to improve the state’s IT systems, including leveraging $37.5 million in federal funds to begin to modernize and improve the state’s unemployment insurance systems. It also makes a number of other critical IT investments, including $2 million for Electronic Health Records support to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, $3.1 million for replacing the state’s Juvenile and Offender Management Information Systems, and $4.1 million in funding for the Office of Informational Technology Services to make capital improvements in IT security and underlying systems.
  • . Protecting State Retirees by Stabilizing KPERS: The Governor’s Budget Recommendation also proposes the reamortization of the legacy unfunded actuarial liability of KPERS for 25 years. This in an inevitable,

    fiscally responsible step that will both stabilize the state’s KPERS system and create $158.7 million in savings to the State General Fund. Reamortization is a frequently used tool to manage pension systems in other states and better positions Kansas to make full, timely KPERS payments now and into the future. Stabilizing the KPERS system through reamoritzation is especially critical in FY 2022 to continue the important investments in economic development, infrastructure, and healthcare that will help the state recover.

View the Governor’s full budget recommendation here

Kansas Governor’s State of the State Address

Governor Laura Kelly Delivers the 2021 State of the State Address

TOPEKA – The following is the complete transcript of Governor Laura Kelly’s 2021 State of the State Address. View a video of the address on Governor Kelly’s Facebook page or her YouTube channel. 

Good evening.

Typically, I would deliver the State of the State address to the legislature and the public from the House Chamber in the Capitol building.

And I would begin by looking out over all the familiar faces, constitutional officers, cabinet members, and my own family.

But, these aren’t typical times. And while I can’t see them, I am grateful that my husband, Ted Daughety, and daughters, Kathleen and Molly, are hosting a virtual watch party with members of my family across the country.

I know it’s not just my family that has had to change our rituals and gatherings. We’ve all had to adjust. We’ve all had to get creative with problem solving. We have been forced to spend too much time apart, communicating virtually, instead of sharing moments in person, together.

So this won’t be a typical State of the State address.

Instead of giving a speech to the legislature, I’m going to have a conversation with you – the people of Kansas – give you an update on where we are, what’s next, and lay out a clear agenda that meets the moment we’re living in.

In the weeks and months to come, we need to get every Kansan vaccinated. We need to get our economy moving. And we need to get all our kids back into the classroom.

We need to do it in a way that keeps our budget balanced. And with the sense of urgency and focus that Kansans deserve. We can not let political fights slow us down.

Tonight, I’ll speak to each of these issues.

But before I continue – last week I ordered flags lowered to half-staff to remember the more than 3000 Kansans we’ve lost these past 10 months to Covid-19. I ask you to join me in pausing for a moment in honor of their memory.

To the families and loved ones of those we’ve lost, please know my heart is with you.  The pain you’re feeling is immeasurable … Here in Kansas, we’re all neighbors, and we’re all here to support you, in every way possible.

It’s been a time of such loss for so many.

Too many precious lives lost.

Businesses lost.

Jobs lost.

Critical time in the classroom for our children, lost.

Lost moments with loved ones.

The losses in our lives have been countless.

But … we never lost hope.

The way that Kansans have stepped up these past 10 months has been nothing short of heroic – from health care workers to first responders, teachers and parents, farmers and ranchers – the character of Kansas has been on full display.

And I want to commend the state and local officials who continue to work around the clock with the public health experts to make sure we’re taking the right, aggressive, steps to slow the spread of the virus, while also balancing the need to keep the Kansas economy moving.

And now, after months of struggle and sacrifice, an end to this national nightmare is finally in sight.

Last week, my administration released the phases of our vaccination distribution plan.

We worked diligently for months, together with our federal and local partners, to develop a plan that would prioritize the health of the most vulnerable, reduce the strain on hospitals, and help us kickstart our economy.

While our state initially experienced a reporting lag of vaccines administered, the CDC vaccine tracker is now showing that Kansas is in the top tier for vaccines administered per capita. We are working as quickly as we can to safely, efficiently deliver the vaccine to all Kansans. Much of our ability to distribute the vaccine is dependent on the federal government getting the vaccine to us.

As of today, 84,555 Kansans have been vaccinated. And we will continue this coordinated effort so every Kansan can get vaccinated. My goal is to make sure that each of you know when and where you can get vaccinated in your county.

Like in other states, the first to receive vaccines have been those directly overseeing our COVID response efforts – hospital workers and long term care staff and residents.

We expect to be moving into the second phase before the end of this month, when we will begin vaccinating our seniors, because we know Kansans 65 and older are the biggest at-risk group.

Also in this category: essential frontline workers – these are our police, firefighters and other first responders, our teachers and childcare providers, our grocery store and meat packing plant workers.

As we continue our phased approach, we will add other priority groups including those living in congregate settings, those below the age of 65 with severe medical risks, and other essential workers. And then, hopefully, over the next few months, the rest of the general public. Again, this depends on how quickly the federal government gets the vaccine to Kansas.

But until then, it’s imperative that everyone continue to do your part in slowing the spread of the virus – wear a mask, physically distance, and avoid mass gatherings.

We are not out of the woods here. Not by a long shot. Our hospitals are strained and this virus continues to kill our loved ones and our neighbors.

But, we *will* get through this crisis, with the vaccines.

There’s been a lot of misinformation out there about the vaccines. Internet conspiracy theories. Complete nonsense. Make no mistake, the science behind the vaccines is solid.

And these vaccines are how we keep ourselves and our fellow Kansans healthy … and ultimately, how we defeat this virus and move forward with our lives.

The latest information about distribution instructions and timelines will always be available at our website – kansasvaccine.gov.

So, if we’ve learned anything these past 10 months, it’s that every Kansan deserves health care they can afford, good health care facilities near their homes, and for our rural neighbors and friends, more access to telehealth services.

That’s why I’ll continue to push, over and over again, for what 38 states across the country have done – to expand Medicaid to cover another 165,000 Kansans, to ensure that our rural hospitals remain open, and inject billions of dollars into our economy.

Access to vaccinations and good health care . . . It’s the only way we’ll truly put this nightmare behind us.

We’ve already taken a series of strategic steps to keep our economy open. But open isn’t good enough. We need to make sure it’s growing, with Kansans not just getting back to their old jobs, but also finding new, better-paying jobs.

We are set to launch the Framework for Growth – a comprehensive roadmap to ensure that the Kansas economy continues to thrive and that our most valuable resource — our young people — have exciting career opportunities right here at home.

Let me briefly speak to five areas of economic growth that we’ve focused on: small businesses, infrastructure, new job creation, agriculture, and broadband.

First, small businesses.

No doubt, this has been a challenging period for small business owners, with so many having to adapt in different ways to the virus. And a very difficult time for anyone who works in a small business.

Small businesses, as we know, aren’t just workplaces, they’re the heart beat of Main Street in so many Kansas communities. Familiar, friendly faces behind the counter. These folks are our neighbors, our friends.

We have been able to help nearly 3,000 small businesses across the state with grants for payroll and other expenses. But we know more must be done.

That’s why I’m pleased about the resurrection of the Kansas Main Street Program and the launch of the Main Street Affiliate Community program. These programs provide funding and technical assistance to help transform and strengthen rural downtowns.

I know for many small business owners, these past few months have been filled with anxiety and heartache – and you’re just trying to do right by your employees and customers.

I promise you that I’ll do everything in my power to protect small businesses and the Kansans they employ.

But it’s not enough to simply save the jobs and businesses that exist. An obvious area for job growth is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

I’m proud that Democrats and Republicans came together last year to pass a 10-year infrastructure plan – it’s a strategic, practical approach that allows us to prioritize the most urgently needed projects.

As we speak, more than 160 state highway and local road projects are under construction or about to be. And another 230 projects have been awarded for future construction. That’s better roads, better bridges, walking and biking paths. A more modern transportation infrastructure from top to bottom – and that’s a lot of jobs.

We know this pandemic has put too many Kansans out of work, and I know some Kansans have had difficulty getting their unemployment benefits.

The fact is, the volume of benefit applications absolutely overwhelmed our unemployment system. I want you to know we’ve fixed many of the immediate problems and more Kansas have received unemployment benefits since the pandemic started ten months ago, than in the eight previous years combined.

To be prepared, should we ever be confronted with a health and economic crisis as staggering as this pandemic, we’ve committed 37.5 million dollars in this year’s budget to update old IT systems that have been neglected for decades.

While it’s imperative that we modernize our IT systems, what’s more important is making sure unemployed Kansans can get back to work.

So we’re moving quickly to bring new jobs to Kansas communities, big and small.

We’ve announced projects like Urban Outfitters’ new distribution center at Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County that will create 2,000 new jobs and invest over 350 million dollars in Kansas.

And Schwan’s Company’s expansion to its facility in Salina.  When the project is complete, Salina’s location will be home to the largest frozen pizza production facility in the world – and bring 225 good jobs to the community.

Over these past two years, we’ve recruited dozens of new businesses and helped create more than 20,000 jobs; that’s pumped more than 3 billion dollars into our local economies.

Including into our farming and agriculture communities.

Where, in typical Kansas fashion, Kansas farmers and ranchers have stepped up, even during those first, very scary days of COVID-19, and kept doing their jobs. They knew, pandemic or no pandemic, people need food.

My Administration partnered with local and federal officials to make sure we kept these critical food supply chain workers safe and kept production online. The entire nation, and the entire world owes these Kansans a huge debt of gratitude.

At the state level, we invested 12 million dollars to increase the capacity of the state’s food supply system all across Kansas.

And, as my friends in Agriculture may remember, I was the first Democratic governor to publicly support the USMCA, the trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

To me, this isn’t about politics.

I will always support our agricultural employers and workers because we all know that agriculture built Kansas, and it will be a driving force in rebuilding our economy as we emerge from this pandemic.

And agriculture is one of many industries increasingly relying on high speed internet to meet the demands of their customers and for their day to day operations.

In fact, in today’s economy, businesses small and large depend upon broadband – both because this pandemic has required many of us to work remotely, and because of the broader shift we have seen from retail to etail commerce.

It’s an issue my administration has treated with the urgency it mandates.

I signed an Executive Order establishing Kansas’s first Office of Broadband Development – and through it, we’ve distributed nearly 50 million dollars in Connectivity Emergency Response Grants, to communities like Spring Hill, Valley Center, Dodge City, Topeka, Derby and others.

We have to keep pushing on this issue. It needs to be a bi-partisan push.

Because access to high speed internet will be a game changer for these communities. It’s a tool to recruit new businesses and keep existing ones from leaving.

It’s also a tool to provide care through telehealth services to rural and underserved Kansans.

And it’s a tool for our children and their education. This pandemic has taught us that learning remotely is difficult enough, but to do it without reliable internet is impossible.

It’s been a long 10 months for our children, their parents … and perhaps especially for their teachers … many of whom are juggling the teaching of our children while also looking after their own.

I can’t say enough about the job that Kansas teachers have done throughout this pandemic.

Teaching under less-than-ideal circumstances, but never wavering in their commitment to our children.

Stepping up under tough conditions is nothing new for Kansas teachers. They’ve been doing it for years.

Remember, when we took office two years ago, the state was still reeling from a disastrous tax experiment that absolutely crushed our public schools, even forcing some to go to 4-day school weeks.

We fixed our public schools once already – bringing Republicans and Democrats together to constitutionally fund education for the first time in many years.

And now that the pandemic has created a new set of challenges – I want you to know that we’re going to get every Kansas student back in the classroom as soon as possible, and provide their teachers with the tools and resources they need to get our kids back on track.

From day one, I pledged to Kansans that we’d never return to those days of broken budgets and fiscal irresponsibility.

That’s why I’m committed to closing the Bank of KDOT by 2023. Past Administrations have used these critical highway construction dollars as a slush fund for their ideological experiments – which undermined opportunities for infrastructure investments and economic growth.

Once again, we brought Democrats and Republicans together to balance the budget and constitutionally fund our schools – all without a tax increase. In fact, because we prioritized wisely and found new efficiencies, I’m proud to report that even during this pandemic, the state will close out this fiscal year with a projected 600 million dollar ending balance.

But we must remain vigilant. We’re just a few years removed from the Brownback tax experiment, and it seems as though some of my colleagues in the Legislature have already forgotten just how devasting that experiment was to our economy, our schools, and our future.

The tough, pragmatic budget choices we have made to this point have given us flexibility to protect our core services – like education, infrastructure, and economic development tools –   from COVID-related cuts, and have been an historically potent tool we have to recruit businesses to Kansas.

As we recover from the economic damage caused by effects of this virus, we must continue to prioritize strategic and inclusive economic policies, not Brownback 2.0 tax cuts.

Each year in this speech, and almost every day in between, I call for bi-partisanship. To work together, Democrats and Republicans have to do what’s best for Kansas. To be better than what we see in Washington.

In light of the destruction, violence, and sedition that took place at the United States Capitol last week, we can’t simply treat this like any other moment. That would be an insult to Kansans – and all they’ve seen these past 10 days and all they’ve experienced these past 10 months in their own lives.

This isn’t like any other moment.

We’re being tested like never before.

This year, working together isn’t simply something I want – it’s something we owe to the people of Kansas.

This year, as leaders, we must commit ourselves to set an example. In how we conduct ourselves. In the things we say to each other, what we post on social media, in what we tell people back home in our communities.

This year, we must show Kansans that, even when we stand on opposite sides of the aisle, we still always share a common bond as Kansans and Americans.

And right now, that means doing whatever it takes to get Kansans back to work, back to school – and back to a place where we treat each other with respect and dignity.

We need to listen to public health experts. We need to listen to each other. We need to listen to the people of Kansas.

And then we need to lock arms, not as politicians from one party or the other, but as Kansans.

And in that spirit, I’d like to say a word about my friend – Senator Pat Roberts, who has retired after 40 years of elected service to our state.

Pat was and remains famous, not only for his wit, but for his ability and willingness to work across the aisle.

He and I are in different political parties, but we’re united in our love for Kansas and its people.

That’s why he and I have been in such frequent contact about this pandemic, because we know that it’s important for the state and federal government to work hand in hand. It’s the right way to serve.

As we tackle the challenges of these historically uncertain times in the weeks and months to come, let us all do it with leaders like Pat Roberts in mind.

And let us always remember that our children and grandchildren are watching.

These days, they’re watching extra closely.

The decisions we make, and the example we set, in the coming weeks and months will have a lasting impact on their lives. And on our beloved state of Kansas.

This is a time like none other we’ve seen.

Let’s rise, together, to meet this moment.

May God keep the people of Kansas healthy and on the road to prosperity.

Thank you and good night.

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Wind Energy Production Recognition For Kansas

Governor Laura Kelly Announces Kansas Receives National Recognition for Wind Energy Production, Capacity

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced that the state of Kansas has once again been recognized as a national leader in wind energy, with Business Facilities Magazine noting lofty rankings for Kansas when compared to all other states, and awarding an Honorable Mention to the Grain Belt Express project in the magazine’s Deal of the Year competition.

According to Business Facilities’ 2020 State Rankings, Kansas was:

1. No. 1 in percentage of energy generated by wind
2. No. 4 in Aerospace
3. No. 4 in installed wind power capacity

“I’m pleased that these national accolades have confirmed what Kansans have known to be true – our state is a driving force when it comes to wind power expansion, development, and innovation in our country,” Governor Kelly said. “I thank all the hardworking Kansans across the state who put in the work to make this possible. My administration will continue to support wind power initiatives that will not only allow us to maintain our top-tier rankings, but also create jobs and boost economic development statewide.”

In 2020, Kansas reclaimed the top spot it held in 2018 in percentage of energy generated by wind, as it was No. 2 in 2019 behind Iowa. Kansas also increased its installed wind power capacity significantly in 2020 in claiming the fourth-place spot.

Due to its significant economic impact and benefit, the Grain Belt Express was honored by Business Facilities Magazine with an Honorable Mention award in its national Deal of the Year competition. A new, 800-mile transmission line connected to the Grain Belt Express is expected to bring $8 billion in investment and thousands of jobs to Kansas.

According to Business Facilities, 2020 was one of most competitive years for the Deal of the Year competition, with economic development projects from across the nation submitted and judged by an expert panel of independent site consultants and real estate executives.

Grain Belt Express, owned and developed by Invenergy Transmission, has created a renewable energy project that promises to deliver significant advantages in access to affordable energy, and added infrastructure for broadband. According to an analysis on behalf of the company, this expansion will create up to $7 billion in electricity cost savings for Kansas and Missouri consumers by 2045.

“The Grain Belt Express project reflects our state’s commitment to smart renewable energy and aggressive economic growth, and I’m grateful to Business Facilities for including this exciting project on their list of the nation’s top successes,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland said. “We’re on a roll in Kansas, and our team is proud to demonstrate the many ways Kansas is the nation’s best place to do business. We’ll be back competing for still more accolades that reflect Kansas’ position at the best place in the nation to do business.”

The Grain Belt Express will begin in southwest Kansas and wind through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Energy savings will result from the Grain Belt Express transmission line’s direct access to one of the country’s strongest and lowest-cost wind energy resources in western Kansas. This projected energy cost savings is in addition to the $8 billion in economic investment in Kansas associated with Grain Belt Express.

To see the full list of Business Facilities’ 16th Annual State Rankings Report, click here. The full list of Deal of the Year winners can be found on Business Facilities’ website here.

About Grain Belt Express
Grain Belt Express is an approximately 800-mile high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line being developed by Invenergy Transmission. It will deliver up to 4,000 megawatts (MW) of low-cost, homegrown clean energy from western Kansas to millions of Americans in the Midwest and other regions. Learn more at: www.grainbeltexpress.com

About the Kansas Department of Commerce
As the state’s lead economic development agency, the Kansas Department of Commerce strives to empower individuals, businesses and communities to achieve prosperity in Kansas. Commerce accomplishes its mission by developing relationships with corporations, site location consultants and stakeholders in Kansas, nationwide and worldwide. Our strong partnerships allow us to help create an environment for existing Kansas businesses to grow and foster an innovative, competitive landscape for new businesses.