KANSAS SENATE UPDATE, Ron Ryckman, 38th District Senator
Although most of the media cravings during Week 3 of the 2023 Legislature were understandably focused on the Governor’s State of the State Address Tuesday evening, the always-a-big-hit Liberal Pancake feed the next morning was clearly the focus of most of our hunger cravings.
Legislatively, we passed S. Con. Res. 1602 by voice, expressing disagreement with any efforts to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species — and all the bureaucratic regulation that will entail. Not necessarily in response, but who knows? — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service almost immediately thereafter announced a delayed implementation of its “plan” until March 27, 2023, meaning we can all relax and feel better about our protected habitat before the feds take over. Of course, the age-old question then arises: Who is going to protect them from the “protectors?”
Meanwhile, SB 3, establishing the Silvisaurus condrayi dinosaur as the official State Fossil, has the distinction of being the only measure currently on General Orders for Floor consideration, so watch for it soon. Interesting tidbits from my committees this week include the fact that while Kansas ranks No. 1 in the nation for wheat production, the dollar value of harvested corn is actually 70 percent greater ($2.2 billion to $3.7 billion). At the same time, we were advised that growing fruits and vegetables would be much more profitable than grain if we could just get the labor, prompting me to recall being told once that prior to Prohibition Kansas was the top producer of grapes and wine in America. None of those statistics seemed to matter, however, when informed that our state had sustained over $350 million in Unemployment Benefits fraud last year. Ah, aren’t government-run programs great?
Something that truly is great is the recognition bestowed upon two of our 38th District teachers last week with their announcement by the state Department of Education as 2023 Kansas Horizon Award recipients. There were only 32 such honorees statewide, so it is with tremendous pride that I include their mention in this newsletter. Congratulations to Kaisha Batman, Dodge City High School, and Monica Blanco, Dodge City Middle School, for the outstanding achievements — and dedication to positively impacting our youth — that led to their selection. Many of you have already read about their ceremonies in last week’s (Jan. 17) Dodge City Globe, but they were given a further tribute by the Kansas Senate this Friday. Congratulations to both – and may they be an inspiration to others to follow in their footsteps as exemplary educators.
The same goes for a separate proposal to ban foreign ownership of private property in Kansas, ostensibly to prevent China from “buying” our state the way it has Brazil and ultimately controlling the food supply. Curiously, that “side” issue arose when we learned from the Wildlife and Parks Secretary that less than 3 percent of our land is publicly owned, causing us to be near the last (48 out of 50) in hunting opportunities. Any of you remember the days when you could just knock on a farmhouse door and ask for permission to catch a fish or shoot a pheasant? To be sure, no “permission” needed to stop by my office in the Capitol when visiting Topeka. As always, I thank you for the high honor and privilege of serving as your “voice” there — and join you in wishing Kansas a Happy 162nd birthday.