Last Week on the House Floor
Last week, the House was busy passing numerous bills. The many pieces of legislation ranged on issues from technology to healthcare to agriculture. Find a few of these bills detailed below.
Sub HB 2331: An act concerning information systems and communications; creating the representative Jim Morrison cybersecurity act; relating to digital information security for Kansas executive branch agencies; establishing the Kansas information security office; establishing the cybersecurity state fund and cybersecurity state grant fund in the state treasury, creating the Kansas information technology enterprise.
H Sub for SB 60: An act concerning agriculture; relating to the Kansas department of agriculture; certain fees, authorizing the Kansas secretary of agriculture to collect a fee for processing paper documents.
SB 20: An act concerning financial institutions; relating to certain acts under the administration of the state bank commissioner.
H Sub for SB 51: An act concerning controlled substances; the state board of pharmacy; relating to scheduling of controlled substance analogs, controlled substances and new drugs; emergency scheduling.
HB 2313: An act concerning the Kansas lottery; dealing with lottery ticket vending machines; repealing the lottery sunset.
HB 2232: An act concerning adult care homes; relating to electronic monitoring.
SB 68: An act concerning health and healthcare; relating to hospitals; enacting the Kansas lay caregiver act.
HB 2353: An act concerning state contracts and purchases; relating to purchases of products and services from not-for-profit entities; employment of persons with disabilities.
As most of you know by now, on Thursday, March 2, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled our current block grant unconstitutional. In addition, without a set dollar amount, the court ruled in favor of Kansas children. The court said that the legislature is not meeting the Kansas constitutional requirement to adequately fund public schools (Article 6 of the Constitution). Here is a link to the Kansas Constitution https://www.kssos.org/other/pubs/KS_Constitution.pdf, page 26, Article 6-Education. Thank God our forefathers had the foresight to protect the investment of educating our citizens in our state’s constitution.
It is our duty to provide equal and adequate education to all our youth. It makes no difference if they are born in Leawood or Arcadia, Goodland or Sublet. All Kansans have the right to a good education.
In the next few weeks we will come up with a new school finance plan. We must by June 30, according to the court’s deadline. The challenge will be a statewide plan that is acceptable by our most prosperous county. Johnson County is key to the new formula. A new proposal was introduced by Johnson County Representative Melissa Rooker and Shawnee County Senator Laura Kelly which is similar in many ways to the old school finance formula, in place prior to the block grants. It appears to meet constitutional muster and SEK would definitely be a beneficiary. While many Johnson County legislators support a plan that benefits the entire state and provides for an educated workforce in the future, not all are on board. There is an effort to keep Johnson County dollars in Johnson County. Regardless of the fact that we have a statewide economy, they remain narrowly focused.
Regardless of the fact that all our citizens statewide benefit from being better educated, they believe the most populous should benefit the most. Regardless of the fact that all corners of the state pay their fair share of income, sales and property tax for the greater good, some in Johnson County believe that the most affluent and populated county has no reason to be part of the greater good.
A better tomorrow is the great American dream. We have become the greatest nation in the world by investing in our future. For Kansas to stop now is to step backward. All good things come with a cost. A sound public educational system is the most important investment a state can make in its citizens. Failure to provide a better path leads down the wrong road. Bad things cost even more. Now is the time to put all of Kansas on the path to success. We know what works and how to get there. We must just do it and do it soon.
Read the Gannon Ruling on Adequacy here: http://www.kshousedems.com/school-finance-update.
Coming up in the Kansas Legislature
This week, the Medicaid expansion bill passed the Senate and has been sent to the Governor. [Governor Sam Brownback vetoed that bill Thursday, full statement can be found at this site: https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Medicaid-Expansion-Veto-Message.pdf]
Republicans in the Senate have said they will wait to act on an education finance formula until the House addresses it first. Conversations as to how to solve this issue are underway, with many ideas being introduced. A bill has been proposed this week in the Kansas House, and we expect action on that bill to begin this week.
A tax plan to restore the revenue in Kansas has not yet been enacted. Previously in the session, the House put forth and passed a tax bill, which then passed through the Senate. The bill essentially repealed Gov. Brownback’s “march to zero” tax experiment. The Governor vetoed the bill, after which the House overrode his veto. The Senate failed to override by just three votes. A new tax plan should be coming soon from the Senate side.
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 50-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7698 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. Additionally, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the legislative session online at www.kslegislature.org