How do you write a legislative update after the events that battered our communities last week? The issues we argue, fuss, and fight about in Topeka are trivial in comparison to the tragedies that just shook our normally safe, small towns. My heart, thoughts, and prayers go to all of the victims, their families and their friends.
First, thank you to all the law enforcement and first responders who put your lives on the line to stop the senseless acts of violence in Harvey County and save your neighbors’ lives. The hours and weeks and years of duty and training that you all put in surely made the difference in your response last week. We are all blessed by your steadfast dedication and commitment to your communities, day in and day out. I know they say they were just doing their job, but still, thank you to Police Chief Doug Schroeder and Sergeant Chris Carter for your bravery and quick-wittedness last week.
Knowing the love and kindness of the Newton, North Newton, and Hesston communities, clearly the attack was a random act. The opportunities, leadership, and work ethic that Excel Industries and its employees makes the attack feel even more senseless. Thank you to the doctors and nurses who have worked around the clock to heal the physical wounds from the attack and thank you to the all the religious leaders and counselors who have worked to help us all along the path of spiritual grace and healing.
While the details will take time to sort out, a few facts have been established that do point to weaknesses in our state when it comes to preventing these unnecessary losses of life. It has been reported that the attacker had a firearm illegally transferred to him and the individual who did that is facing Federal charges. It has also been reported that the attacker has been in and out of the criminal justice system over the years and had been served a protection from abuse order immediately before his final acts of violence.
In the early 1990s, the state made a major decision to close most of its mental health hospitals, believing that treating those with mental health issues in the community would be both more effective and save money. While this approach has proven to be more effective and it has saved money, not all of the savings have been reinvested in community mental health. As a result, more and more of our criminal justice system and local law enforcement is forced to deal with mental health issues. The state not only needs to provide better funding for mental health, it needs to ensure access to comprehensive mental healthcare, including affordable substance abuse treatment.
Another area that needs more attention is domestic violence. Far too often, this type of violence goes on and on before it is effectively addressed. Intimate partner violence can be very difficult for law enforcement to deal with and for survivors to escape. The support of friends, family, the church, law enforcement, and community domestic violence organizations can make the difference in preventing domestic violence from festering. Area domestic violence shelters are often past capacity and in need of donations.
The Hesston Community Foundation has a Community Support Fund set up for donations for those impacted by the violence. Their website is hesstonfoundation.org. More information about local domestic violence shelters can be found with the Harvey County Safe House at harveycodvsa.org , YWCA of Wichita at www.ywcaofwichita.org and Harbor House at catholicdioceseofwichita.org/family-stabilization/harbor-house.
I will have more updates about the legislature in my e-newsletter, including information on all of the bills that we voted on last week before the annual “turnaround” deadline. Email Carolyn.McGinn@Senate.ks.gov to receive my e-newsletter. As always, I appreciate all of your thoughts, emails, and contributions to our community.
For other information about the 31st district, updates, and news articles, please go to my website at: www.workingforkansas.com.
Prayer from the Kansas Senate
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Chaplin Cecil T. Washington, Jr.
Serving Your people is a great privilege. But as You said in Ecclesiastes 3, that life “under the sun”…”under heaven”, will be mixed with contrary times…times that waver between the pleasant and the unpleasant. We pray today for all in Hesston and for everyone around this state and country that have been touched by the tragedy that has occurred.
Meanwhile, in the midst of evil, opportunities for good are being displayed. You revealed to us, in Your Word, that while we’re here on this earth, there will be contrary times of both…that life will waver between times of sadness and times of gladness.
So, Lord, while we’re here on earth, having to deal with “under the sun” problems, take us THROUGH the times of grief. Help us to remember, like it says in the 23rd Psalm, that we walk THROUGH the valley of death’s shadow. Keep us from getting stuck in it.
We’re perplexed when hit with pain and suffering, and we struggle with why these things happen, but Lord, You’ve made it clear that times of sorrow are inevitable.
While we’re in this “under the sun”, on earth time, when both good and evil are in hostile opposition to each other, we sometimes feel like pawns within the struggle…like puppets moved by the strings of nobility or the strings of wickedness.
Therefore, we look forward to That Day, when You will finally put evil…all evil under Your feet…That Day, when Right and Righteousness will reign forever….That Day when we’ll no longer be “under the sun”…no longer “UNDER heaven” but in it!
Meanwhile, bless us to be facilitators of Your Goodness on this earth. In the Name of Jesus, Who loved us to His own death, Amen.
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