It has been a very busy week at the Capitol with Committees hearing and working Senate Bills as well as House Bills that have been blessed or remained alive after Turnaround.
I continue to push for HB 2185, which would restore local control for prevailing wage, to be worked by committee this session. A message was sent to the individuals that signed the prevailing wage bill petition urging them to contact members of the committee. Research shows that prevailing-wage laws support a highly skilled and safe construction workforce that more cost-effective delivers construction projects and improves the overall economic health of our communities. There is still time to work HB 2185 during this Legislative Session. You can help by contacting members of the House Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development Committee and urge them to work and support HB 2185.
In House Government Technology and Security Committee this week we heard a presentation from the Kansas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Part of their work includes educating consumers on their data privacy rights and how to protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft. The consumer protection website, www.InYourCornerKansas.org , offers tips to help consumers protect their digital information as well as other consumer protection information.
It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I both 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 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. Additionally, you can e-mail me.
No Plan for School Funding
The Kansas Supreme Court issued its Gannon ruling declaring the 2017 school funding plan unconstitutional on October 2nd of last year. That was 158 days ago. The legislature has had 6 full months to act on a new plan that will fund our schools equitably and adequately – knowing for these full 6 months that we have a deadline of April 30, 2018.
Friday, March 9th was the 56th day of the 2018 legislative session. The legislature still has no plan to address the Gannon ruling. Republican leadership must stop playing games and do their jobs – we must act now to fund our schools. The Kansas Supreme Court will rule on June 30th whether or not the new school funding plan meets its requirements.
Kansans overwhelmingly support more funding for our schools. Recent polling has shown that 85% of Kansan’s are concerned about the level of spending in our schools. We must invest in our children and in our public schools to provide the resources for students to succeed. We must ensure that children – no matter where they live – have good teachers and access to a quality education.
Due Process Restored for Teachers
Due process was stripped from teachers in 2014; the restoration of this practice ensures that educators are guaranteed a fair termination process. There is currently a major teacher shortage in the state. Due process is a good tool to recruit and keep quality teachers in our schools.
In good news for schools, the House debated a due process bill for teachers in Kansas. Thursday, that due process bill (HB 2757) passed the House on Final Action. It now goes to the Senate to be debated and voted upon. This is an important advancement for Kansas public schools in a time of uncertainty.
Anti-Bullying Bill Passes House
The anti-bullying bill that was passed through the House this week will address bullying, cyber-bullying, and harassment within schools in order to better protect both students and teachers.
The bill (HB 2758) will require that all school districts put in place an official procedure for reporting bullying, cyber-bullying, and/or harassment, with the opportunity to report these incidents anonymously should the victim choose. The bill also requires each school district to have a plan on file with the State Department of Education that includes consequences and appropriate remedial action for anyone who commits the act of bullying, cyber-bullying, or harassment.
This Week on the House Floor
This week, the House worked and passed the following bills on the floor:
HB 2416: This bill would enact a new income tax credit for tax years 2018-2022 equivalent to 15 percent of expenditures on goods and services purchased from qualified vendors or non-profit certified businesses providing a certain level of health insurance benefits and having at least 30 percent of their employees be resident Kansans with disabilities.
HB 2606: This bill would specify vision test requirements for qualifying applicants for electronic online driver’s license renewal.
HB 2757: This bill would amend law concerning teachers’ due process procedures when such teachers receive notice their contracts will be terminated or non-renewed.
HB 2758: This bill would amend law governing school district bullying plans. The bill would amend the required contents of such plans to include consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person who commits an act of bullying, harassment, or cyberbullying.
Sub HB 2572: This bill would require the Department of Commerce to establish a database for disclosing information on economic development incentive programs, which would be defined to include certain income tax credits and locally-granted property tax exemptions in addition to various programs administered directly by the Department.
SB 405: This bill would amend law that establishes the number of animals permitted in a confined animal feeding facility. Under continuing law, a facility is required to register with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment if the facility has an animal unit capacity of 300 or more.