A group of eight legislators younger than 45 banded together Tuesday to launch the Kansas Future Caucus, a bipartisan coalition aimed at giving young people a voice in government.
Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Republican, and Rep. Brandon Whipple, a Wichita Democrat, will serve as co-chairs of the newly-formed group announced at a Statehouse press conference. Clayton said there are about 25 legislators who are younger than 45.
Legislators from across the ideological spectrum attended the launch, but Clayton said it remained to be seen how many more might join the group. The idea behind the caucus is to find common ground on issues important to young people across Kansas, like child care, student debt and job creation.
“But beyond that, we notice that there is a real mistrust of government for individuals in this age group, and I think that people feel largely that they are disrespected or abandoned or ignored by those who represent them,” Clayton said.
Clayton said members of the future caucus wanted young Kansans to know they are seen and respected.
Whipple raised concerns about young people leaving Kansas for other states. He said Kansas can do more to serve young constituents on issues like debt and health care.
“One of the first steps we should be taking is bringing them to the table – is making sure their voices are heard and making sure that we listen to them and do what we can do to make sure that Kansas is prepared for the next generation so they can be successful for the next economy,” Whipple said.
Steven Olikara, founder and president of the Millennial Action Project, said similar caucuses his organization helped launch in other states have made headway on legislation governing sharing economy companies, like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. Kansas is the 21st state to develop a caucus of young legislators with the Millennial Action Project.