Each week during the 2022 Kansas legislative session, we will provide Blue Valley area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol.
Below is this week’s submission from Republican Sen. Kellie Warren of Kansas Senate District 11, covering parts of Leawood and Overland Park.
As we head into the 2022 session, a key focus of both the regular and special legislative sessions was and will continue to be COVID-19.
We also addressed matters ranging from education, to law enforcement, and the integrity of both our courts and our elections. I have included some highlights in this update:
Responding to COVID
We have now learned that the impact on our daily lives due to haphazard state mandates was not warranted, nor effective.
During the regular  legislative session, we reformed the Kansas Emergency Management Act to clarify state and local authority to respond to COVID or similar future challenges – which has now been upheld by the Kansas Supreme Court.
We also met for a special session to address the federal vaccine mandate for private employers, and we passed legislation ensuring medical and religious exemptions would be granted. Our top priorities throughout the entire pandemic have been health care access, vaccine availability, and defending citizen rights by curtailing government overreach.
Keeping Kansas safe
As Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, I have prioritized support for our law enforcement community, and increased resources to ensure the safety of our communities, schools and families.
We have given prosecutors additional tools, clarified statutes and enhanced penalties. I am particularly proud to have enacted the “Not Your Daughter” initiative to close loopholes that had allowed sexual predators of minors to escape prosecution or receive only minor punishment. This sweeping reform will ensure Kansas is safer for our families.
Finally, we also enacted a new law allowing for the prosecution of criminals outside of Kansas that defrauded the Unemployment Insurance program – a critical step forward to recover stolen funds and punish those responsible.
Protecting mothers and the unborn
A 2019 Kansas Supreme Court opinion found an unlimited right to abortion in our state constitution, rendering unenforceable existing bans on late-term abortions and taxpayer funded abortion.
In response, the Legislature passed a constitutional amendment for voters’ consideration to reset Kansas law to exactly where it stood prior to the 2019 court opinion. It will appear on your August 2022 election ballot.
It is important to note that the “Value Them Both” Amendment contains no new restrictions on abortion.
It is very important for parents to have complete knowledge of the curriculum being taught to their children in schools on all subjects, including American history.
Our children attend school to learn and think critically and not be indoctrinated by extreme ideas. While the Kansas Board of Education handles many curriculum issues, I expect the Legislature to explore ways to ensure parents have access to all curriculum at all times.
Food sales tax cut
There is considerable discussion about reducing or eliminating the food sales tax in Kansas, which is among the highest in the nation. In the past, legislative efforts to reduce this tax have been vetoed, but I believe something will get done this year.
This session, the Legislature will also be drawing the new boundaries for our four U.S. Congressional seats, and for the State Legislature.
We had two rounds of hearings from the public in which we took input from all across the state, including Johnson County.