Although we’ve not had any debates on bills in General Orders, as yet, committees have been busy with presentations and informational hearings. These are very effective in disseminating great volumes of information in short periods of time.

Education

On Jan. 18, a Joint Committee meeting of House K-12 Education Budget and Senate Education heard from Commissioner of Education Randy Watson. He provided an update on the Kansans Can program, a vision for Kansas schools.

Major initiatives for the Department of Education are the Mercury 7 and Gemini programs. These programs are working on redesigning Kansas Schools, with seven districts participating in the Mercury program, including McPherson.

Participating schools are visited by KSDE personnel every two weeks. KSDE is looking to launch a Gemini II project, with applications starting on Feb. 5. Deadline for applications is April 2. School districts must agree to redesign one elementary and one secondary school. There must be a positive school board vote and a faculty vote of 80 percent.

The redesign is to be around the vision, outcomes, and definition of a successful high school graduate. School districts must be willing to launch a new school design in the 2019-20 school year. Gemini II participants will be announced on April 17 at the State Board of Education meeting.

Health

On Wednesday, the Health and Human Services Committee held an informational hearing on CBD oil made from the hemp plant. Officials from Folium Biosciences, based out of Colorado Springs, spoke before the committee, described their products and explained their business model of vertical integration.

They stressed that they grow hemp that has been bred to contain high levels of CBD (cannabidiol) and that the resulting oil contains less than 0.2 percent THC (psychoactive or intoxicating agent) upon extraction. CBD oil, both from the hemp plant as well as cannabis, is claimed to help veterans with PTSD and other disorders, as well as those with anxiety, sleep, or seizure disorders.

You may recall that the House overwhelmingly passed an industrial hemp bill last session. That bill awaits action in the Senate. 

2018 Issues Survey

Many of you have voiced opinions, on a whole host of topics, and I truly appreciate the feedback. In addition to that, I would like to try something a bit different this year. I have placed on my website, http://les-mason.com, a 2018 Issues Survey link. I’m wanting to examine the attitudes of McPherson County citizens on three issues that will come before the legislature this year.

To submit a response, you’ll be asked to sign in with a Google account. Please know that responses are totally anonymous, and no names or emails are being collected. The sign in only serves to limit responses to one per person. I encourage you to submit your responses and have your voices heard. 

Les Mason is the Kansas House Representative for District 73, which covers much of McPherson County.