Legislative Newsletter: March 29th, 2014

The Legislature stayed very busy this week, as we debated and voted on the House floor all day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. 

Complete daily calendars are available at www.kslegislature.org along with other useful information.  I am also working to keep constituents more informed via Facebook and Twitter.

I am privileged and honored to be your voice in the Kansas Capitol. If I can ever be of assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at home or in Topeka. 

In this Issue:

  • Buy American amendment proposed
  • House rejects Senate decision to strike down energy standards
  • House adopts proposed amendment to the Constitution on charitable raffles
  • Nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities releases new report on Kansas tax policy
  • House passes Student Data Privacy bill
  • Stay in Touch

House Dems propose Buy American Act

On Tuesday, the House voted on HB 2675. HB 2675 revises the provisions of the State Use Law as it pertains to certified businesses and negotiating committees. The bill passed on the floor, but an important amendment to HB 2675 was rejected.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Whipple, was created in an attempt to implement the Kansas Buy American Act. The amendment would require any public building or public work contract made by a state agency must use goods that are manufactured in the United States, under the oversight of the Department of Administration. Exceptions would be made in cases where it is found that needed U.S.-made materials are not sufficiently produced or readily available, or that the inclusion of domestic materials would increase the project cost by more than 25 percent.  

I voted yes on the Whipple Amendment to HB 2675 because I believe that Buy American provisions are helpful in creating jobs and would be beneficial to our nation’s economy. Resources for public projects funded by taxpayers’ dollars should be purchased from America, and specifically Kansas when possible. Since 2001, America has lost more than 2.5 million manufacturing jobs.  Kansas has seen a 12% decline in manufacturing jobs.  The amendment was rejected on a voice vote 52 – 70.

House rejects Senate decision to strike down energy standards

On Tuesday, March 25th, the Kansas Senate voted 25-15 to repeal existing energy standards regarding renewable energy. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted on whether to concur with the Senate’s decision. Current law requires utility companies to obtain 15 percent of power through renewable sources by 2015, and 20 percent by 2020.

With states moving toward renewable energy regulation, many see the repeal as a step backwards for the energy industry and, most importantly, the Kansas economy.

Many Representatives from both sides of the aisle, including several from western Kansas, came down to the well to speak in favor of Renewable Portfolio Standards. Rep. Ewy of Jetmore, KS, said he knew firsthand of families that have been able to come back to western Kansas because of wind farms.

Opponents of the law argued that the wind industry should stand on its own. Rep. Marc Rhoades claimed that the law raises utility costs for citizens by 40%. Americans for Prosperity claim that rates have risen 15% under the RPS. This is all untrue. Kansas electricity prices may have risen since 2009, but according to the Kansas Corporation Commission, the RPS is not the main culprit. In a Retail Rate Report released this month, the KCC attributed wind power's impact on rates at less than 2/10's of a cent.

The motion to concur with the Senate’s decision was rejected 44-77, keeping current law intact. 

House adopts proposed amendment to the Constitution on charitable raffles

In November, voters will have the opportunity to vote on a Constitutional Amendment to allow charitable raffles for certain non-profits including religious, fraternal, educational, and veterans organizations.  The Constitution will be changed if the proposed amendment receives a simple majority. 

Nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities releases new report on Kansas tax policy

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an organization that studies fiscal policy and public programs that affect low-and moderate-income families and individuals, released a new report entitled “Lessons for Other States from Kansas’ Massive Income Tax Cuts”. The report uses our state as a “cautionary tale”, stating that the shot of adrenaline to the economy that Gov. Brownback promised is failing. According to the report, the tax cuts enacted in 2012 have diminished state revenue, damaged state programs, harmed the poor, and haven’t brought promised jobs and economic growth to the state.

One of the numbers that stands out the in the report is that if Gov. Brownback’s future recommendations are adopted, we will have cut per-pupil spending by 17% (adjusted for inflation) since the start of the recession.

Below is a link to the report that clearly states the serious issues that our state is encountering, in the short term and in the long term, under Gov. Brownback’s reckless tax plan. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4110. 

House passes Student Data Privacy bill

The House debated SB 367, the student data privacy protection bill. The bill provides restrictions on what data contained in a student’s educational record can be disclosed, and to whom it may be disclosed. It requires that any student data submitted to and maintained by a statewide longitudinal student data system could be disclosed only to certain individuals or organizations

Rep. Rothlisberg offered 2 amendments. The first would require school districts to count and report the number of children of undocumented workers being educated. The amendment was declared not germane and it was withdrawn.  The second amendment would have defunded the KIDS data system at the State Department of Education. Rothlisberg argued that we "did not need to gather dossiers on the kids." This amendment drew sharp opposition. It was overwhelmingly voted down.

The bill was then advanced and later passed on final action 119 – 4. 

Keep in Touch

It is a special honor to serve as your state representative.  I value and need your input on the various issues facing state government.  Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions.  My office address is Room 173-W, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612.  You can reach me at 785-296-7371 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me.  Additionally, you can e-mail me at pam.curtis@house.ks.gov

Do you like this post?

Paid for by Pam Curtis For State Representative. Steve Curtis, Treasurer.