Rep. Owens: Spread Unity and Hope

Letter to the Editor

Submitted by. Stephen Owens, 74th House District,


In her daily briefing (on Friday), the Governor chose to use her pulpit to further divide the people of Kansas in lieu of UNITING us as a Leader should. She chose to use such words in describing the session of the Legislature as a Joke and Spectacle while using adjectives such as Embarrassing, Irresponsible and Indefensible implying legislation was rammed through the process. Let me add a bit of context for your consideration:

1) Legislators worked tirelessly for 24 hours straight to ensure legislation was passed to provide scholarships for Kansas high schoolers trying to get a college education, created a low cost loan program for struggling Kansas businesses shut down by the Governor, provide free ACT exams for students, create a foster care report card to hold DCF accountable for children, create at “Truth in Taxation” bill creating transparency in your property tax bill, give property owners an extension of time to pay their property taxes without penalty, ensure routine maintenance on your property doesn’t increase your taxes, and put common sense checks and balances on the Governors authority to shut down businesses and put folks out of work. When is the last time you can say you worked 24 hours straight (God Bless our first responders that do regularly)? EVERY (Rep and Dem alike) legislator deserves a pat on the back for working diligently to represent the nearly 3 Million Kansans they were elected to represent.

2) While I have been clear in my desire to have worked for a week or two to get even more legislation passed, there are 165 members of the Kansas Legislature. Better than 60% fall into the HIGH risk category for COVID illness. Many simply were not willing to come for more than one day. Five (5) refused to show up period. I respect and appreciate our leadership for their desire to protect our members yet still get an enormous amount done in 24 hours for the people of Kansas.

3) 24 Hours is a bit of a misnomer. We have been working for more than two weeks having committee meetings in Appropriation, Judiciary, Tax, Commerce and others in preparation for this day. There have been dozens of online and in person committee meetings in both the House and Senate in preparation for Sine Die. To imply it was all done in 24 hours is simply not the truth.

4) Marathon Days in the legislature are not uncommon. While it is unusual to go a full 24 hours and on Sine Die, each year, there is generally at least one day we work WELL past midnight to get the work of the people done. This is not uncommon and the Governor (as a former Senator) knows this. We are proud to put our wants and needs aside for the people of Kansas.

Any time only one side of a situation or story is represented, you hear only what you are told to hear. The Governor had a very specific message and it is obvious that with her choice of words, her desire was to make Republican Leadership look bad and to politicize the work of the Legislature. The Governor can choose to lead with a message of unity or continue to use her daily press briefings & messaging to score political points.

The State of Kansas is represented by some fantastic individuals; none of which are perfect. The Governor is as apt to make mistakes as is our leadership as am I. We can all see in hindsight how things can be done better. However, the funny thing about hindsight is that a 20/20 view of past only stands to improve our vision of the future.

I implore the Governor and each Legislator to open the doors of communication and spread a message of UNITY and HOPE! We all have the same goal in mind: to make Kansas a great place to live, work and raise our families.

Ad Astra per Aspera

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