Legislature’s controversial bills overshadow good ideas

State Rep. Blaine Finch, 59th District, Franklin and Osage Counties

rep_finch_blaine_MGreetings from the Statehouse. It was an interesting week in our state’s capitol as decisions made there have made national headlines. Even though the controversial bills are the ones that receive the buzz, there are some very good ideas that seem to fly under the radar. I would like to talk to you about a few of those.

Without a lot of notice or fanfare last week the House passed a bill that allows professional associations to create their own self-funded insurance plans. Under the law currently there are six professional associations that can do so, they include in part: the Kansas Bankers Association, Kansas Dental Association and the American Institute of Architects. This bill would expand that option to any association that has operated successfully for five years in Kansas and has at least five employer members.

The bill allows small businesses to pool their resources and help control health care costs. It also allows flexibility and in some cases outright relief from some of the more costly requirements of Obamacare. This is a free market Kansas solution that will help small businesses while costing the state nothing. It doesn’t require costly litigation or unconstitutional attempts to nullify federal law. This is smart policy. I was proud to support it and work toward its passage.

Last week also saw a hearing on two bills related to juvenile justice. The bills are based on evidenced based, real world tested practices that reduce recidivism and keep the population in our juvenile jails down. Specifically the bills would help keep low risk, non-violent juveniles out of state secure facilities where they mix with high risk juveniles who have committed more serious crimes. Like the old story of the crow and the canary in which the crow teaches the canary to caw before the canary teaches the crow to sing, often our system functions as a criminal training facility instead of the rehabilitative experience we want for our young people.

The bills would require a standardized assessment of all juveniles before they are sentenced. This practice can help the court tailor a sentence that fairly punishes and rehabilitates without needlessly exposing the young person to even worse offenders. By reducing our dependence on incarceration we can free up precious resources to deal with juveniles while they are still low risk. Evidence shows that this strategy can keep young people out of jail, set them back on the right path and save millions of tax dollars. Again this is smart policy that doesn’t make headlines but ultimately saves us all money and changes lives for the good.

I will continue trying to develop and support good bills for the betterment of our district and our state. Your calls and emails are always welcome at [email protected] and 785-296-7655. I appreciate all of you who have reached out to me this session to let me know what matters to you. Thank you for the honor of serving you as your representative.

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