Kansas Senator Bruce Givens visits EHS JAG-K students
Kansas Senator Bruce Givens visited JAG-K students at EHS and the EHS Extend campus on November 2.
Senator Givens described both his career as a Special Education Director and his role as a Kansas Senator.
Each morning while the Senate is in session, Givens begins his day with a workout before heading to the capitol building. He attends four hour-long committee meetings: Commerce, Insurance and Banking, Federal and State Affairs, and Education.
At 2:00 p.m., the Senate meeting begins and could last 10 minutes or 12 hours depending on the day's topic and how much they discuss or debate it.
"Politics is about compromising every day," Senator Givens said. "You have to work with people so they don't hate you or you'll never get anything done."
Senators are expected to attend receptions every evening.
Students asked how ordinary citizens could create a new law. Senator Givens explained that a citizen could present the idea to a Senator, who would champion, or sponsor, the idea if they thought it would be a good law. The idea would then be taken to the Revisers, which are attorneys that work in the basement of the capitol building who turn the ideas into bills. The championing Senator would then present the bill to the the President of the Senate and the Majority Leader. They would decide if a committee would hear the bill or not. If so, the appropriate committee would review the bill and decide whether to pass it out of committee to be heard by the whole Senate. They analyze the financial impact and lobbyists visit the championing Senator and discuss what they like or don't like about the bill.
If the President of the Senate and the Majority leader say no to the bill, but the championing Senator believes that it needs to be heard by the Senate, it takes 28 votes to bring the bill out of the committee. Senator Givens said that most bills do not get heard during the same year they are introduced.
For a bill to become law, it must receive 21 out of 40 favorable Senate votes, 63 out of 125 favorable House of Representatives votes, and be signed by the Governor.
Students were interested in what educational background or other requirements were necessary to become a Senator. Senator Givens explained that although a college education is not required, the candidate must be at least 25 years old, live in the state of Kansas, and not have a felony on their record to become a Kansas Senator.
While federal politicians make more than $100,000 annually, most state politicians still hold regular jobs because the state Senate is only in session for 90 days and paid a salary of $88.40 per day. Senator Givens explained to students that people often want to become a state politician to ensure that their values are represented when new legislation is presented.