On Feb. 7, Gov. Jeff Colyer addressed a joint session of the House and Senate in the chamber of the Kansas House of Representatives. Although this was technically not a second State of the State speech, in essence it was.

The governor outlined his focus for the remainder of his term. He started with an executive order he already had signed and four additional orders. The executive order he had signed requires all cabinet agencies to update their sexual harassment prevention policies. On Thursday, the governor signed the four executive orders he mentioned during his speech.

The governor also discussed jobs, stating job growth and enhancing the quality of life for all Kansans must be our high priority. He mentioned the current unemployment rate is at 3.4 percent, although the state has 48,000 unfilled jobs. The governor said he would be launching his “(Re) Employment Plan,” which will provide, free of charge, a skills assessment, resume, interview and networking assistance, and labor market information highlighting current in-demand jobs. Colyer’s speech was refreshing, and his direction for the state was starkly different than what former Gov. Sam Brownback released earlier in the session.

Early last Tuesday morning, I had the pleasure of testifying in front of the Senate Commerce Committee to promote the bill I introduced during the 2017 legislative session. The bill focuses on creating jobs in rural areas of Kansas. I focused on the components of the legislation that allow for capital investors to invest in companies that are wanting to build, relocate or expand in rural areas. The Ad Astra Rural Jobs Act definitely would boost job creation, and I mentioned how it partners with the Rural Opportunity Zone. However, this was just a hearing. I hope, that given the support we had, the Senate Commerce committee will work the bill soon.

On Thursday, the Kansas House of Representatives debated and voted on four bills. A few of those bills are as follows:

The first bill that we debated was Senate Bill 262, introduced by Sen. Elaine Bowers, which authorizes the construction of a statue to honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the State Capitol grounds. The funds generated to construct the statue will be privately raised, and no state general fund dollars will be used for the Eisenhower statue.

This bill passed 123-0.

Another bill we debated was House Bill 2492, which would increase the maximum local sales tax rate that could be imposed by Thomas County from 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, with all taxes levied above 1 percent to remain earmarked for financing a courthouse, jail and law enforcement center. This is subject to a vote by the electorate of Thomas County. This bill now goes to the Senate after passing 109-14.

On Thursday, we heard the first report from a Budget Committee. The committee heard the General Government Budget Committee’s report on the Board of Barbering, Board of Cosmetology and Judicial Branch Budgets. We will continue to hear budget reports from all the Budget Committees until March 15. The Kansas Legislative Research Department has produced agency budget summaries. You can access the budgets at www.kslegresearch.org/KLRD-web/Publications/BudgetBookFY19/FY2019_ABS.pdf.

Members of the House, Senate and legislative staff wore red for heart health awareness Thursday. Rep. Susan Concannon carried House Resolution 6048, which names February as American Heart Month. The resolution provides many facts surrounding women and heart health, including: cardiovascular diseases kill one in three women in the United States, yet 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases might be prevented; an estimated 44 million women in the United States are affected by cardiovascular diseases; 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing a heart disease or a stroke. The Go Red for Women movement encourages women to know and manage total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index. Concannon was joined by Leann Dickson, a cardiac nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and an American Heart Association volunteer. The resolution was adopted without roll call.

Rep. Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill, represents the 109th District in the Kansas House.