This marks the final week of the 2018 regular legislative session. On Saturday just after midnight, the House adjourned and will return on April 26, 2018 for the veto session. There are still some big-ticket items yet to be addressed, such as the budget. The Senate adjournment resolution that was adopted by the House set Sine Die, the last day of the session, for May 4th.
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.
On Monday, the House ran HB 2445. The Kansas Supreme Court gave the Legislature a deadline of April 30, 2018, to present a formula that adequately and equitably funds schools. Many House Democrats had doubts that HB 2445 would satisfy those requirements. Representative Ed Trimmer introduced an amendment that would adjust for inflation and bring the bill closer to constitutionality, but his amendment was voted down. The bill failed Monday, with a vote count of 55 in favor, 65 opposed.
However, despite that failure, the House again ran HB 2445 on Tuesday. More amendment attempts were made, and the bill passed with a significant jump in yes votes – Monday, there were 55, and Tuesday, 71 votes in favor were up on the board. The House Majority Leader made a motion to pass HB 2445 through on Emergency Final Action.
Normally, the House and Senate vote on a bill, and then vote on that same bill the following legislative day on Final Action. This practice gives legislators twenty-four hours to consider their initial vote and change it if they choose. It was clear that House Republican Leadership did not want to give the Representatives that time to reconsider, and so the Final Action vote was taken immediately after the first vote, passing HB 2445 through the House in one day.
The Kansas Senate – two days after their Leadership declared they refused to work an education bill in their Chamber – passed SB 423, a woefully inadequate school finance bill.
On Saturday, the Kansas Legislature reconvened solely to work on education finance. An agreement was made between Senate and House Republicans, and the original House bill, HB 2445, was inserted into SB 423. This bill passed the House and Senate and will now go to the Governor to be signed into law. The bill will then be ruled upon by the Kansas Supreme Court in June. If found unconstitutional, the Kansas legislature will likely be called back for a special session.
Constitutional Amendment Passed Out of Committee
On Wednesday evening, the House Judiciary Committee narrowly kicked out HCR 5029, a Constitutional amendment that would strip the Kansas Supreme Court of any role in deciding on the constitutionality of education finance. With a 12-10 vote count, the amendment will now go to the House floor.
The amendment is an attempt by Republican Leadership to distract from the issue at hand: creating an adequate and equitable school funding plan that will provide every child in Kansas with the opportunity for a quality education. If this amendment should pass, it will eliminate checks and balances in Kansas and weaken the separation of powers that are so important to a fair and transparent government.
The attempt to amend the Constitution would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber, and then must be voted upon by the people of Kansas on the ballot later this year – which does not address any of the issues with school funding that we are facing now.
The amendment will not be worked until the Legislature returns for veto session.
This Week on the House Floor
This week, the House worked multiple Conference Committee Reports and Concur/Non-Concurs. These are bills that have already passed through the House or the Senate, been sent to a Conference Committee to find a compromise that suits both chambers, and then come back to the floor for a final vote.
A few of these include:
SB 272: Requires drivers of motor vehicles to take certain actions when approaching a stationary waste collection vehicle obviously and actually engaged in waste collection and displaying hazard warning signal lamps as required.
SB 375: Adds specified exemptions to limits on vehicle weights and lengths.
HB 2606: Specifies vision test requirements for qualifying applicants for electronic online driver’s license renewal.
HB 2454: Amends various statutes related to juvenile offenders.
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 products.
SB 307: Amends the Kansas Amusement Ride Act.
SB 217: Replaces the term “mentally retarded and other handicapped persons” in statutes with “individuals with intellectual or other disabilities” in accordance with current law.