2016 Legislative Update - Issue 2

During the first 2 weeks of the Kansas Legislature committee work has started with informational briefings, hearings and bill introductions.   Committee meetings are open to the public and you can find the agendas and minutes posted on line at www.kslegislature.org .  Sessions for both the House and Senate are also available via live-stream and can be accessed at the same link.

It remains an incredible honor to represent our community in the Kansas House of Representatives.  While the Legislature is in Session, I do my best to stay in touch and keep you informed by email, and I spend countless hours every week helping my constituents solve problems.  If I can be of service to you or anyone you know please call my office at 785-296-7371 or email me at pam.curtis@house.ks.gov


Kansas Courts Funding Saved

On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to remove the legislative threat of defunding the entire Kansas court system.  In 2014, the legislature made sweeping changes to the way local courthouses were administered.  Then in 2015, the legislature tied to the 2014 bill a non-severability clause which stated that if any part of the bill is ruled to be unconstitutional or invalid the funding for the entire court system would be removed.  That law was challenged in court and the law was indeed found to be unconstitutional.  New legislation was needed to remove the non-severability clause so the court system would not be shutdown.  Thankfully, the legislation passed the House overwhelmingly, 119-0.  I voted for the bill and I believe we should continue to appropriately fund our courts without threats of defunding.    


K-12 Education Report

For the last several weeks a committee called the K-12 Student Success Committee has been meeting to discuss possible changes to public education in the state.  The committee heard from several superintendents, school board members, teachers and other concerned groups from across the state.  On Tuesday, that committee passed out a report detailing what changes it believes should be made to public education in Kansas.  (Read the report here)  Unfortunately, the report largely ignored the words and testimony of those who are on the front lines of education in this state (teachers, superintendents, board members, etc) and recommended sweeping changes to public education.  Among other things, the report recommends stripping local school boards of their authority to make decisions for their schools, removes authority from the state Board of Education in administering education in the state, and recommends merit pay for teachers.  We have strong public schools in this state and I believe we should support our local school teachers and administrators.  Thankfully, a minority report was made by several Democrats on the committee and that report supports public schools in this state.  (Read the minority report here)  I do not support the changes recommended in the committee’s report and I strongly support local teachers and administrators.    

Kansas State Library Resources

On January 29, 1861, Kansas became the 34th state.  Explore this period of our history with the Gale Kansas History database, which covers 1854-1865.  You’ll find everything from personal letters to our first state geological report.  Use the browse to go through all topics, search, or click through the green-tabbed homepage presentation for an overview of the Bleeding Kansas years: http://kslib.info/kshistory

If the page above asks for a Kansas Library eCard number, you may get one at any library in Kansas.  Most people will be automatically recognized as inside Kansas and will not need this step.  If you have any questions about using the Kansas State Library Resources you can contact them at: kslc@library.ks.gov or 785-296-3296.