- Public Service
I would like to thank everyone for giving me the chance to serve as your State Representative.
First off I want to say I am here to represent the people of Reno County and not special interests. As I have visited with you in my door to door campaign a number of issues have been raised. The following are a few of them and my thoughts about them. I need to know your position so I can represent you in Topeka, henceforth, my slogan, “Your voice in Topeka, Your choice in November”.
I’m here because of my commitment to my community and to Reno County. As a fourth generation farmer, I’ve been in business myself for over 30 years. I have been involved in elected offices for the last 25 years. I served 12 years on the USD 311 school board in Pretty Prairie, several of those years as President. I also spent 4 years on the ESSDACK board in Hutchinson, 6 years on the board of Bell Credit Union in Hutchinson, Chairman of United Way of Reno County for Southwestern Bell, past president of the Telephone Pioneers of America Southwest Council and the St. Rose Church board and church council.
I currently serve on the board of Ark Valley Electric Coop. in South Hutchinson and the Kansas Electric Power Coop. board in Topeka. I am the treasurer for Ninnescah Township and on my church finance committee. I am also a member of Farm Bureau, Future Farmers of America, Pretty Prairie Booster Club and other numerous clubs and organizations. I have a vast amount of leadership skills as demonstrated by my community involvement.
As your State Representative, my platform consists of the 3 E’s: Education, Economic Development and Energy. I hope you take the time to read my commentary and if you have any questions, comments, or thoughts you would like to share, please e-mail me and I will get back with you.
Article 6 of the state constitution states:
“The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interest of the state. Local public schools under the general supervision of the state board of education shall be maintained, developed and operated by locally elected boards.”
What this means to me as a former school board member is that the legislature makes sure the schools are funded and that the money goes where it should but the local boards make the decisions on how they run their school. The most important function I can perform is that the local school boards maintain the control of their districts and do not lose this important responsibility granted by the legislature.
I believe as your representative I can help explore some options for the teacher shortage in a number of different ways. I would do this by visiting with superintendents and teacher groups to get their ideas, which I would take to the legislature. I would also like to address some of the issues of mandates without funding with local school boards and see if there is any way the legislature can help in these areas.
We are very fortunate to have a highly respected community college in our county. The quality of education that they provide our graduating seniors helps prepare them in their journey on to a four-year university or the needed skills to enter the work force immediately.
Half of the state’s population is located in 5 of the 105 counties. More than half of the counties in Kansas have fewer residents than they did in 1900. This is a huge concern for smaller school districts. We have the best education system in place and we need to maintain that quality to attract new businesses and people to our state. How can we address this and help these counties grow?
- Economic Development
As a board member for several businesses, I realize that we need economic development to make our state grow. We need new job opportunities for our graduating students. Why train them in the best schools and universities in our state and then send them to another state for employment?
If we help our state grow, we will have a better tax base and in turn help eliminate the unwanted tax increases. All politicians are trying to reduce taxes but how are they going to do that?
As a member of the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce and your State Representative, I will work endlessly to encourage new business to locate in our county and state. We should seek different forms of incentives to persuade them to move here and promote our new graduates and experienced work force. We have a tremendous pool of people and experience right here in Reno County to attract new business and that’s what we need to do.
As an Ark Valley board member, we are committed to finding renewable energy sources. Ark Valley, along with Kansas Electric Power Coop., donated $1,500 to Fairfield school district to purchase a wind generator for students to learn about wind power. We recently sponsored an economic zero interest $740,000 loan with USDA to Sunflower Wind LLC in conjunction with Eaton of Hutchinson to develop cutting edge technology that will change the way wind turbines will operate.
We cannot forget to promote, encourage and take care of our existing businesses. We need to treat farms as small businesses and show how they benefit Reno County. We need to work to ensure that all our businesses stay financially strong, independent and continue to grow, thus creating jobs for our future generations.
As a fourth generation farmer, I have become a steward of our land. We have moved from conventional farming practices to no-till, min-till. I am committed to improving our environment so the generations to follow will have a great place to live. One of the biggest debates is climate change and carbon emission from coal and fossil fuels, and that all depends on which scientist you listen too. The next 10 years will be extremely important, as they will depend on laws we make now regarding climate change and its impact on society.
As a good steward of the land, I am very concerned about energy and renewable energy sources. Electricity consumption in Kansas grew 44% since 1990. Rural Utilities Service, RUS, is a federal agency that deals with rural cooperatives. They say that electric rates will increase 10% per year for the next 10 years because of base load demand. That means your electric bill will be double what it is now.
Base load is the minimum amount of electric power required to supply demand at a given point in time at a steady rate. Most all generating plants are running near or at base load capacity now and yet the demand for electricity is growing at about 15 to 20% per year. Wind power is a great supplement, however, it cannot maintain base load capacity when demand is required. When this occurs, generation has to be backed by natural gas, which is the most expensive means of generating power. Without new base load power generation, there is a greater chance we will have more brown and blackouts in the future. If we divert natural gas to generation, what will that do to the cost of heating our homes and businesses in the winter? We already have been pinched by gasoline prices; we don’t need higher heating bills also.
Wind is a tremendous renewable resource and we have an abundant supply in Kansas. It can provide a solid tax and employment base for the counties it’s located in. Along with wind, we need transmission lines and upgrades to the infrastructure in Kansas to transport wind power and cost-efficient sources of baseload power to consumers. Part of the Holcomb expansion project was also the building of these new transmission lines to carry this power to Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. This is some of T Bone Pickens plan on supporting Wind, its transportation to Texas and back up by natural gas generation. Remember, he is still an oilman first.
We need to contain costs and prevent harm to our economy from high electric rates. We need to protect the working families and businesses from these high rates. More people are without electric power than ever before and the number is growing. A recent news report said there were more than seven thousand people in Kansas without power. They estimate more heat and cold related deaths in the future than deaths from CO2 emissions related causes because people cannot afford their electric service.
The bottom line is that we need affordable, abundant and reliable base load energy. Without this, we have little to attract new business to Kansas. Without new business, we cannot create new jobs and protect our families and their futures. Without new families, we cannot make our schools grow. Without all these, we will not have the tax base to support our schools and keep our taxes in check.
We need to develop wind and solar energy technology so that it’s affordable and can help reduce CO2 emissions. Until then, we still need energy from reliable, abundant sources, at an affordable cost, without dependency on foreign oil. Wind is a great source of energy and the technology is growing by leaps and bounds every day. Until wind can pick up the load, we still need a constant source of base load generation like the new plant at Holcomb. Remember, wind has to be backed by natural gas generation which is the most expensive generation available to electric customers. If we divert our natural gas supplies to electric generation, think of what that will do to the cost of natural gas to heat your homes. We still get natural gas from foreign countries so we will not gain anything in the quest for foreign oil independence.
As you can see, we need all three E’s: Education, Economic Development and Energy to make Kansas a strong and prosperous state again. As your State Representative I will ensure you get the representation in Topeka we need for Reno County.