TOPEKA (KSNT) — We’re told stress was a major factor in freshman legislator Representative Basil Dannebohm’s decision to step down later this week, and there certainly is no shortage of stress at the Statehouse these days.
KSNT spoke with several freshmen lawmakers to find out how they’re handling the high stress and pressure so far this session.
Their days are usually filled with committee meetings, party caucuses and meetings of the whole, “It’s probably more intense on some days than I imagined,” said Rep. Kristey Williams, (R) of Augusta.
It’s a feeling most freshman legislators experience in the early weeks of their first session.
The most surprising, however, is how time consuming it all is. Most lawmakers barely have the time to read all their emails.
“We start very early in the mornings and sometimes we’re here until six or later and then we meet after that as well to talk about issues, so I think it’s a pretty intense schedule,” said Rep. Williams.
Even working those long hours, many lawmakers say they find it difficult to accomplish all their original goals. For example, Representative Susie Swanson says she originally intended to read every single bill.
“I thought that was going to be a priority for me and then when I became aware of how many bills are introduced in a day, there would be no way,” said Rep. Swanson.
Another freshman Democrat says it’s not a lack of time, it’s a lack of influence.
“I think if we were given an opportunity to have a real discussion about how to fix the mess we’re in, then there’d be a little more pressure, but pressure is not what I’m feeling right now,” said Rep. Dennis Boogs Highberger, (D) of Lawrence.
Frustration is what he’s feeling, so far. A sentiment shared by others, but it’s something all the freshmen learn to deal with.
“The obvious result is, everybody in here wants to move the right direction, and that’s where we’re trying to head,” said Rep. Lane Hemsley, (R) of Topeka.
There’s only about 13 weeks left in the regularly scheduled session.
During that time, lawmakers will continue working on some looming budget issues.