On Feb. 22, I carried an amendment to cut property taxes in Kansas by $90 million. This amendment was brought before the House in the same way as hundreds of other amendments debated in my tenure. I did nothing wrong in my presentation of the amendment or in responding to questions.
It never crossed my mind during the debate that several members of the GOP had not read the amendment. It is now clear they were confused and should have read it. The fact that they failed to read it is not my fault.
Legislators have four ways to read and review an amendment: It can be read to them by a clerk of the House. There are paper copies available to any member in case of computer problems. The amendment is available online for every member and the public. And any member can ask questions of the person carrying the amendment.
The embarrassing truth is that some House Republicans failed to read the amendment.
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They complain this amendment was a “gut and go,” which means I substituted one idea for another. Why do a substitute? The majority party refuses to give Democratic ideas debate time or a vote. The language regarding the substitution was contained in the first two lines of the amendment. The length of the amendment was only a page and a half. Now a few members want to waste taxpayer money and legislative time to prove they didn’t read the amendment.
My proposal to cut property taxes by $90 million would give working and middle-class Kansans immediate tax relief. This is a disagreement over policy, but these extremists are attacking my integrity because I disagree with them. It is wrong. It damages the Kansas House of Representatives.
Trust did take a hit when elected representatives failed to read an amendment before voting. How many bills and amendments have they voted on without knowing what they were doing? The people of Kansas deserve better.
Rep. Jim Ward