Prepared by Brandon Anderson, SPEEA Legislative Director
The Kansas State Legislature began the 2021 legislative session Jan. 11. The Legislature convenes on the second Monday in January every year and generally adjourns in early May. During the interim period, legislators meet to discuss issues and statutes on an ad hoc basis.
Here are some quick highlights of the 2021 session:
- Voters set the agenda: Kansas voters have given Republicans continued control of the state House of Representatives (84-41), and state Senate (29-11). These veto-proof majorities give Republicans the ability to move their legislative priorities with little recourse, despite the veto power of the Democratic governor.
- Party priorities: Republican party leaders have indicated that keeping businesses open, returning to in-person public education, and opposing COVID-19-related mandates put in place by the governor will be among their top priorities of the 2021 session. With a strong majority, Republican lawmakers will be looking to clamp down on the Democratic governor’s emergency powers, which were designed to give the executive branch the ability to swiftly respond to state emergencies or natural disasters. Party leaders also listed tax cuts, abortion restrictions, and economic growth as additional priorities in 2021.
- Pandemic issues: State Democratic Party leaders, including Gov. Laura Kelly, plan to focus their efforts on pandemic-related issues, including disparities in healthcare and aid for small businesses. Democrats also vowed to push back on significant cuts to public education funding if proposed in the 2021 budget.
- Stunted state revenue: A decline in consumer spending related to the pandemic caused early revenue projections to estimate a 2021 budget shortfall of more than $1 billion. However, federal relief aid and increased spending in the final quarter of 2020 shrunk the state budget deficit to a more manageable figure of $152 million. The Republican majority will likely focus on cuts to programs and services, while linking state dollars to agency performance.
- Aviation education tax-incentive – SPEEA will continue to advocate for a state income tax credit for Kansan aviation-program graduates. This will help encourage aerospace manufacturing growth in the state and help recruit and retain talent, maintaining the state’s competitiveness.
- Strengthening worker rights in Kansas – SPEEA will work with allies to continue to support the expansion of workers’ rights in Kansas. This includes passage of the Kansas Fair Share Act, which will strengthen the freedom of workers to join together and lessen the inequitable “free-rider” burden placed on dues-paying union members.
All SPEEA members can help shape the priorities and direction of our union’s legislative and political efforts. Participation in SPEEA not only gives members a voice at work, but through our union, members can have a much broader effect on laws that govern our industry, workforce, and pocketbook. By mobilizing around member priorities, SPEEA is, in effect, the only group operating in the interest of aerospace professionals and their families at the state and federal level. To help us continue to strengthen the voice of Kansan aerospace workers, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legislative Update Flier - pdf
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kansas Legislature will be limiting access to the state Capitol grounds to those with scheduled legislative business only.
Despite this year’s unique session, it is critical SPEEA members and families continue to engage with the legislative process.
Here are five ways to participate:
- Engage – Join in SPEEA union member “calls to action,” hosted events, and remote campaigns.
- Learn – The whole legislative process, from start to finish, is explained here.
- Watch – Click here for broadcasts of debates, votes, committee meetings, and other events in the House and Senate.
- Research – To look up legislation by lawmaker, topic, or bill number, click here.
- Testify – Contact the SPEEA legislative director at email@example.com if you are interested in providing written or public testimony on a bill before the legislature.