While floor time in the Kansas Legislature often makes the headlines, bills are shaped and molded through hours of committee work.



Because of that fact, legislators often lobby to find committees to best influence bills in favor of their constituents. To that end, Sen.-elect Bob Marshall, R-Fort Scott, will have his hands full.

While floor time in the Kansas Legislature often makes the headlines, bills are shaped and molded through hours of committee work.

Because of that fact, legislators often lobby to find committees to best influence bills in favor of their constituents. To that end, Sen.-elect Bob Marshall, R-Fort Scott, will have his hands full.

First off, the first-time legislator has been named the vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee in a year that the committee will likely take a hard look at a comprehensive transportation plan. Then, Marshall has spots on the local government committee, assessment and taxation and the education Senate committees. In addition, Marshall said he will be on the confirmation oversight committee.

“I was very pleased with all of (the committees),” Marshall said. “The only one I would like to have been on was agriculture. That’s a very important industry for southeast Kansas. It’s very important for western Crawford County and Bourbon County, and there’s a lot of farmland in Cherokee County as well.”

“You can’t get every committee that you want, but that was the only one I wanted that I didn’t get on,” Marshall said. “I was really pleased with the transportation committee, and I wanted the education committee because of PSU and Fort Scott and the local schools. It’s all very interesting, and it should be a learning experience for me.”

Returning Reps. Julie Menghini, D-Pittsburg, and Bob Grant, D-Cherokee, will see several familiar committees when they check in.

Menghini will be the ranking minority on both the House Taxation and House Transportation committees, along with the Kansas Joint Security committee. Her only change is that she will be on the elections committee, which was split out from the elections and local government committee of last session. 

“Both taxation and transportation will be pretty busy, I would think,” Menghini said. “Even if a skeleton Comprehensive Transportation Plan doesn’t come out this year, I’m sure it will be worked on.”

In taxation, Menghini will face the task of finding money to help combat the state’s budget problems. Earlier this year, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius asked all state departments to trim their budgets to compensate, and Menghini said taxation was the other part of the puzzle.

“We’re foolish if we don’t try to revisit some of those tax cuts from a few years ago,” Menghini said. “Tax touches just about every committee in some shape and form, and it’s especially important with the budget. If you make any tax cut in one area, you have to cut spending or make up for it from somewhere else.”

Grant said he also saw similar assignments to last session. He will still be on the House Business, Commerce and Labor Committee and will be the ranking minority on the House Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee.

Grant’s one switch was that he moved out of the educational budget committee, which had a time change. Instead, Grant will move into the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. It’s there that Grant thinks he may help to shape gaming legislation.

“I’m hoping that will be the (committee) where that issue is modified or the language is changed a bit,” Grant said. “I thought being on that committee might help, and that it would be advantageous to southeast Kansas.

“I’ve been there and I’ve gone through the process with the gaming bills, but maybe not as much as I wanted to be,” Grant said. “At this point, being on fed. and state affairs may help us down here.”

Rep. Julie Menghini, D-Pittsburg, said everyone should have plenty on their plates.

“It should be a contentious and busy year,” Menghini said.

Kevin Flaherty can be reached at kevin.flaherty@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 Ext. 134.