Legislators focused on economic development
Politicos say roughly 1,000 pieces of new legislation will be introduced this year in the Kansas Senate and the House. Only a quarter of those, or 250 bills, will be made into law.
Three state legislators didn't quite cover that many issues Saturday morning in Tonganoxie. Still, the three Republicans discussed a wide range of topics at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9271 headquarters, 910 E. First.
The GOP panel included: Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, who represents the Third District, which includes Basehor and Tonganoxie; Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, who represents the 42nd District; and Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, who represents the 47th District.
Tafanelli, chairman of the House Select Committee on Veteran Affairs and a veteran who recently returned from Iraq, received an ovation from VFW members and those in the audience. The representative commanded 700 troops from Kansas and Tennessee.
Tafanelli defended the United States' campaign in Iraq.
"Nine out of 10 (soldiers) will tell you they are making a difference," Tafanelli said.
"Iraq is a better place today than it was a year ago and that's because of democracy," he said, adding, "It was very important to see what those people had to go through to do something we sometimes take for granted here."
The second-term representative also said working on behalf of the 250,000-some veterans in Kansas has been a bipartisan effort.
"Republicans, Democrats ... we all want to do the right thing and move ahead," Tafanelli said.
Pine, a first-term senator, ran through a litany of issues Saturday morning. Economic development was a common factor among many of those issues.
He said items like competitive, affordable airfares in Wichita and an increased production of bio-diesel and ethanol would stimulate economic development for Kansas.
Overall, the Legislature has made positive strides in attempting to improve the outlook of Kansas' economic future, Pine said.
"We've made some progress," he said. "And we've got some more progress to make."
Wilk, who's served in the Legislature since 1993, also discussed energy issues. Namely, the representative said, bio-diesel and ethanol production will "help the economy with some of our energy issues," he said.
Like Pine, he called for eliminating restrictions that hinder the Kansas economy. He said the state needs to readjust its thinking because it now competes on a global scale.
"The Kansas worker is now competing with India, China ... name your country," he said. "I know if we level the playing field, the Kansas worker can compete with anybody in the world."
Wilk said improving relationships between state and local governments -- where the representative believes there exists a "lack of trust" -- is the top priority for the Legislature.
"We have got to figure out how we can work together," he said.
Saturday's event was open to the public and sponsored by the VFW post and First State Bank and Trust of Tonganoxie.