Saturday’s legislative forum drew about 30 area residents to the Jackson County Court- house to get updates from local representatives Francis Awerkamp (shown at right in the above photo) and Ron Ellis, whose legislative district now includes Jackson County.

Lawmakers discuss taxes, education at forum

Keeping Kansas taxes low remains a hot topic for both Jackson County residents and the legislators they elect to serve them in Topeka, but as Saturday’s legislative forum at the Jackson County Courthouse demonstrated, so does keeping Kansas a state where conservatism remains the dominant force in Topeka.

About 30 area residents visited the Courthouse on Saturday morning to hear updates from, and express their concerns to, Rep. Francis Awerkamp (R-St. Marys) and Rep. Ron Ellis (R-Meriden), both of whom serve distinct parts of Jackson County in the Kansas Legislature.

Kansas Rep. Randy Garber (R-Sabetha) and Senator Dennis Pyle (I-Hiawatha) had also been invited to participate in Saturday’s forum. Garber had initally accepted the invitation but bowed out late last week due to health issues with his family, and Pyle stated earlier in February that he would be unable to attend.

Area residents’ concerns voiced at the legislative forum, hosted by The Holton Recorder, ranged from education to possible reform of marijuana laws, but the dominant theme of the forum was how to keep Kansas a “red state” in changing times, particularly when it comes to what the state’s younger residents are learning in school.

Rep. Awerkamp — who made no secret of his antipathy toward “the woke left” during the forum — said he and other legislators have expressed concerns over why colleges and universities are spending taxpayer dollars to promote “diversity, equity and inclusion” rather than using those funds to teach students skills that will help them once they leave school.

“If we’re spending money on things that cause division, causing a lot of angst politically, I believe it’s a waste of time and effort,” Awerkamp said. “The leftist woke agenda in our higher education, it’s rampant… There are so many things we’re doing in society that are, I believe, very bad.”

And in response to one audience member’s accusation that some teachers in Kansas are “grooming” young people to reject the conservative agenda, Awerkamp said that conservative legislators in Topeka are being “ripped apart by the woke left because they dare to challenge all of the school establishment” through their efforts to give parents more control over what is being taught in public schools.

“If somebody challenges the woke left, then the woke left comes after them like a bunch of piranhas,” he said. “It’s disgusting.”

In comparison, Rep. Ellis’ support of conservative school policies was more subdued, suggesting that some schools are “trying to do away with history” while allowing some subjects that are “slipping into schools back east,” such as critical race theory, to quietly work their way into the curriculum in Kansas public schools.

To read the rest of the article, please subscribe to The Holton Recorder. 


The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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