Kansas Sen. Molly Baumgardner of Louisburg filed today, (April 11), for re-election to the Kansas Senate from the 37th District.
Two years ago she was chosen by Republican precinct leaders to replace departing Sen. Pat Apple. In the fall of 2014, she was elected by district voters to fill the next two years of Apple’s four-year term. She received 60 percent of the votes cast in that general election.
During the last two legislative sessions, Baumgardner has distinguished herself as a member of the Senate Education Committee. She is an advocate for adequate state funding of public schools and works to see that more money gets to the classroom.
“When I ran two years ago, I pledged to carry on the tradition of hard work, innovation and effective leadership to get things done for the residents of Miami and Johnson County,” she said. “My focus has remained to keep schools our first priority. Teachers need better pay and classroom resources.”
Another priority was opposing higher taxes and defending Second Amendment rights.
“I said I would vote ‘no’ to higher taxes and have consistently held firm to my pledge,” she added.
This year she was instrumental in the passage of a major juvenile justice reform bill that Gov. Sam Brownback will sign into law Monday in Olathe. Baumgardner has been invited to attend that signing.
The bill will re-direct resources toward keeping kids in their communities instead of taking them out of their homes. It will allow for children to undergo therapy and community service within their local communities. The States of Georgia, South Dakota, Kentucky, Hawaii, and West Virginia have all approved similar reforms.
Baumgardner worked many hours on several amendments in committee that survived the bill’s final version, which will substantially change the juvenile court process. Her successful efforts also prevent the cost savings from being swept by future legislatures, making those savings available for community corrections programs.
She helped revive two nearly dead bills: the ABLE Act for families with disabled children, and the Professional Negotiations Act for K-12 teachers and school boards.
“I’ve worked to bring opposing groups together to form agreement for new legislation, including the restraint and seclusion bill for special needs children in our schools that hadn’t passed for eleven years, Senate substitute for SB 444 for deaf and hard of hearing students that will be the first in the nation, and the acupuncturist licensure bill that hadn’t passed in eight years,” she said.
She introduced and carried in committee and on the Senate floor the juvenile sexting bill, which does not require a young person to register as a sex offender for life. That’s current law. Another she introduced and carried in committee was the 21st Century update to the Kansas Open Records Act. Both passed unanimously in the Senate and are currently in House and Senate conference committees.
She has also hosted numerous public forums this last year in Osawatomie to address community, employee and support services concerns at Osawatomie State Mental Hospital.
“I continue to work tirelessly on the myriad of problems plaguing the hospital,” she added. “The recent $2 million funding boost has helped close the gap in understaffing and has provided nursing staff hourly pay increases.”
The 37th District encompasses the southern portions of Johnson County (Stilwell, Overland Park, Olathe, Spring Hill, Gardner and Edgerton) and northern portions of Miami County (Louisburg, Paola and Spring Hill).