TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – While national elections get most of the headlines, your vote to determine who will represent you on the local level could have big consequences.
Republicans currently hold a supermajority in the Kansas Legislature, or two-thirds of all the seats. Democrats have to increase their total by four of the 165 spots to change that. They need three in the Senate and just one seat in the House.
“I believe that if especially if we could break the supermajority that it might be the one thing that could really help us come together and work together,” said Wichita Representative Elizabeth Bishop. “Truly work on forging some compromises and some good legislation for all of the citizens of the state.”
But many Republicans say it serves as a check on the governor.
“From a Republican perspective, obviously the supermajority that currently exists is very important especially when you’re looking at it, you say, okay the governor, if she vetoes something like food sales tax, we want to be able to override that because we want to have people to pay less for their groceries,” said Overland Park Representative Chris Croft.
Croft said there are many issues that need to be addressed next year like the Kansas Department of Labor problems as well as property taxes. But to accomplish things in the next year, he said lawmakers have to work together because of the lack of dollars coming in.
“While we’re talking about reduced budgets and reduced revenues, at the same time we’ve identified all these massive issues that we’re going to have to address and figure out a long term solution to getting after them,” Croft said.
Bishop, a Democrat, said a big concern of hers is improving mental health services. A new concern for her is her own health. She hopes there are precautions for legislators when working at the statehouse during a pandemic.
Bishop said when the legislature does get to work, it’s clear what its focus will be.
“I believe it comes down to the coronavirus and the economy, and how we structure solutions that handle both of those,” Bishop said. “It not going to be easy, it’s not easy on the national level and it’s not going to be easy on the state level.”
Both Bishop and Croft are running unopposed, as well as dozens of others for legislative seats, but more than 100 seats are contested as we head toward Tuesday.