On Thursday, March 29th, we honored Vietnam War Veterans on the House Floor for National Vietnam War Veterans Day. It was on March 29, 1973 that the combat support units withdrew from South Vietnam. It was an honor to recognize the service and sacrifice of Vietnam Vets and all servicemen and women of this era.
We learned on Friday afternoon that the House Judiciary Committee will meet next week to consider the resolution to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would alter the Kansas Constitution to allow the Legislature to determine how much money is needed to provide a suitable education and prevent courts from considering the issue. Here is a link to HCR 5029.
It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and appreciate your input on issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 452-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. You can also e-mail me.
Bill Heard That Would Arm Kansas Teachers
On Monday, the House Insurance Committee had a hearing on HB 2789. The bill would create an act making teachers first responders in the case of a school shooting. If this bill should pass, it would encourage firearms in classrooms. Teachers would be allowed to carry concealed firearms in schools, with the logic that in a shooting, these teachers would be able to stop an active shooter.
Proponents for the bill admitted that an increase in the number of guns will likely lead to more shootings, comparing this with more vehicle accidents as a result of more cars on the road. Opponents pointed out the many issues that surely would arise from the passage of this bill. Teachers should not be expected to be trained and carry weapons. Guns have no place in our schools.
Kansas House Democrats will fight the passage of this bill and continue to work for the safety of our children.
School Funding Bill Kicked out of Committee
Late Wednesday evening, the House K-12 Budget Committee kicked out a bill to fund schools. The Kansas Supreme Court struck down SB 19 last October, ruling it unconstitutional, and giving the legislature an April 30, 2018, deadline to present an adequate and equitable school funding plan.
Republican leadership commissioned a study to be done by Dr. Lori Taylor, which they hoped would provide an idea of how much money would be necessary to satisfy the Court. However, upon the presentation of that study, those same Republicans denounced the findings, which concluded that Kansas schools use their dollars efficiently and that more money is directly correlated with better student performance.
The bill kicked out of the K-12 Education Budget Committee would appropriate $500 million dollars to schools, to be phased in over a five-year period. It is unclear whether the Kansas Supreme Court would find this amount constitutional.
Constitutional Amendment Introduced
In the House Taxation Committee, a Constitutional amendment was introduced that would strip the Kansas Supreme Court of any role in deciding what is deemed a suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state. The amendment – which would first have to pass both legislative chambers with a two-thirds majority before being placed on the ballot in August or November – gives the legislature the sole power to interpret the Kansas Constitution and decide how much money is enough money for schools.
Republican leadership has been in open defiance of the Court throughout the Gannon case over insufficient and inequitable funding for Kansas schools. This is merely an attempt to remove the Courts from the equation and continue to underfund schools.
This Week on the House Floor
This week, the House worked several bills on the Floor. Some of these are listed below. To view all of the bills worked in the House this week, click here.
SB 328: Creates and amends law related to security operations of state correctional and juvenile correctional facilities, and would create law related to Department of Corrections participation in the Kansas Police and Firemen’s Retirement System as an eligible employer for certain employees.
SB 281: Amends the Protection from Stalking or Sexual Assault Act to apply to victims of human trafficking.
H Sub for SB 374: Amends law concerning driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. Specifically, the bill would amend statutes governing the crimes of operating or attempting to operate a commercial motor vehicle under the influence; implied consent; and tests of blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance. The bill also would repeal the crime of test refusal.
H Sub for SB 391: Establishes the Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force.
HB 2773: Creates the Kansas Safe and Secure Schools Act.
H Sub for SB 307: Amends the Kansas Amusement Ride Act.
SB 282: Amends the Uniform Controlled Substances Act and certain statutes pertaining to crimes involving controlled substances. The bill would amend the definition of “marijuana” and authorize the sale of certain CBD (cannabidiol) products.
HB 2644: Exempts postsecondary educational institutions that have implemented a performance agreement with the State Board of Regents from the performance-based budgeting requirements.
SB 394: Expands the definition of “lobbying” to include lobbying of the executive and judicial branches and make related changes.
H Sub for SB 57: Amends the qualifications for candidacy for several statewide elected offices. The bill would require every candidate for the office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, and State Commissioner of Insurance be a qualified elector of Kansas. The bill also would require a candidate for the office of the Attorney General to be licensed to practice law in Kansas.