Gonzalez making himself at home in Topeka
Perry-Lecompton High School students Austin Naramore, left, and Dale Hupe, right, joined Rep. Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry, on Thursday, Jan. 27, at the Capitol Building to serve as pages. Naramore and Hupe were Gonzalez’s first pages of the legislative session.
Story and photo by Dennis Sharkey
Like a freshman going to his first day of high school Rep. Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry, was trying to find his way around.
“I made 18 trips through the tunnel my first day,” Gonzalez joked about his first day in Topeka.
Gonzalez wrapped up his second full week of being a state representative last week, still at times needing to find his bearings before proceeding on.
To make matters worse, freshmen legislators’ offices are located in another building separate from the state house. Temporary walls throughout the state house with paper signs also make it hard for a newcomer to grasp their location.
Gonzalez and a couple of dozen other new legislators have their offices across the street from the state house in the Docking Building while an entire wing of the state house is remodelled.
“The biggest road block was finding where I had to be for committee meetings and what paperwork I had to prepare,” he said.
Now that he has a good idea of where’s he’s going and where to be, the 18 trips through the tunnel days are over for now.
The legislature’s first day in session will be memorable for Gonzalez as a snow storm hit the area. To make sure he got to the state house on time he got up extra early.
Gonzalez said there have been some late nights during his first week getting up to speed on issues and the state’s budget. He said the life of a legislator is no 9-to-5 job.
“To be effective you definitely have to put in the time that it requires,” he said.
Gonzalez said governing is not that much different than what he experienced in 27 years of management in the private sector. He said his quarter century plus experience has made it an easy transition.
“Part of the benefit is having that experience to know what’s important when you get information to disseminate what is important and is something that just needs to be glanced at,” he said. “It took me about a week to get back into that mode.”
Gonzalez said he hasn’t had any problems getting information because a lot of people have been helpful but he also isn’t shy about asking.
“There’s a lot of people willing to help and I don’t have any problem asking them,” Gonzalez said. “The committees have been really helpful getting me the information and starting the process.”
Like he promised when he stumped for the position just a few weeks ago, Gonzalez said he will depend on his constituents to provide input on issues he may not be familiar with.
He said little by little a few bills have made their way into the public and some constituents have already contacted him about issues that have been presented.
“If I don’t have the answer right away for them I’ll do the research and get back to them,” he said. “I appreciate the people that have contacted me with their thoughts.”
Gonzalez said some constituents and some legislators have already contacted him for support on certain issues. He said some are looking for commitments. However, he said he’s not going to commit to hypothetical scenarios, nor is he going to support an issue until a bill with language is in front of him.
“I told them ‘Without something in front of me, you can’t ask me to go blind and say I’m going to support whatever you bring up to me,’” he said. “You need to make an informed decision.”
Gonzalez also has experience dealing with government issues. He served as chairman on two of former Gov. Mike Hayden’s committees including a committee that promoted a job training program in northeast Kansas. He also volunteered for Hayden and former 47th District Rep. Joann Flower.
His experience landed him on three important committees for this session including the general budget committee, transportation and public safety budget committee and elections.
During his first day Gonzalez learned that he was on a fourth committee, aging and long term care. He joked about his selection of why he was added to the committee.
“I asked the same question,’” he said laughing. “I don’t know if they added that to me after they saw me or what.”
Gonzalez said he thinks the most challenging piece of legislation will come through the elections committee and not the budget.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has already submitted a bill that he campaigned on to eliminate voter fraud.
“I had to do the process the very first time I voted,” he said. “A lot of people already have the IDs.
“It will be interesting to see what comes out of the debate,” he added.
Gonzalez had already signed onto some bills including a bill that would change statutes regulating late-term abortion and partial birth abortion, a bill that would affect municipal elections and a health care freedom act.
Short URL: http://www.jeffcountynews.com/?p=4924