Saturday at 9 am there was a legislative update at the Common Ground Coffee shop on Main street. Legislature members who were present were, Bob Grant, Marty Read, Caryn Tyson, and Jake LaTurner.
Marty Read talked about working on bills that would protect the rights of gun votes and mentioned that he was disappointed with recent legislation that will allow sexually oriented businesses within 1000 feet of a school.
Bob Grant represents the second district which includes a small piece of Bourbon County. He is on the appropriation and transportation committees. He mentioned that he is disappointed with the way that KDOT and KTA were being combined in a way that seems to be designed to allow the state to take money from KTA through KDOT.
Grant also mentioned that he doesn’t feel Kansas should model itself after Texas and Florida who have done away with their income tax.
Jake LaTurner said that he pledged not to raise taxes. He feels that the current legislative session is on of responsibility and of trying to fix problems that have been building up over the years. He also has been supporting drug testing for people receiving unemployment benefits. He has introduced a bill to reform Kansas Open Meetings Act to require people to take minutes of meetings and cap prices on requests.
Caryn Tyson said this has been an interesting session because the dynamics of both chambers are different because there are so many new members and it is hard to anticipate what is going to happen with new bills. She said lobbyists and special interests are trying to push through bills that wouldn’t have passed before.
She talked about the bill drug testing for welfare recipients. It will require testing if there is suspicion of drug use. She is fighting to keep from losing the mortgage tax deduction. She is also excited about a bill that will allow veterans to note this on their drivers licence.
Susan Brown from USD 234 asked about the bills that will effect education. In particular she asked about cuts to at risk funding. Caryn Tyson said that the current At Risk Funding is based on the free lunches in a district. She said they are concerned that the free lunch program isn’t being audited very well and may be keeping money from going to the schools that need it. That is why they are looking at changing the formulas that determine this.
Jake LaTurner said he doesn’t support the bill in its current form because he wants more money for education in the districts he supports. He went on to talk about how there have been many schools suing the state for not properly funding education. He talked about a recent case that said the funding was unconstitutional. He feels this is a legislative issue and the courts shouldn’t be legislating from the bench. He pointed out that if people don’t like the funding they should “fire” their representatives and elect someone else.
Bob Grant said that the legislature “in it’s wisdom” gave the courts some oversite to how much money is spent on education.
Marty Read talked about how there is a big difference between the way that money is getting distributed between wealthy and poor school districts. He said he would like to see the money going right into the classroom. He would like to see good teachers getting paid more money.
Mayor Adams said that he felt the bill that would require partisanship in local elections was a bad idea. Grant said he opposed the measure. Read said he wasn’t excited about it, but he did feel that moving the election to November would be better. Tyson said she would like to move it to the odd year November for local government.
Alan Warren asked to hear some updates about changes to the way taxes are being applied to fixtures. Tyson talked about a business in Montgomery county that had a $400,000 tax bill that suddenly jumped to $10 million dollars, sued the county and won. She said there is a bill to try to balance this to fix problems in two counties without messing up businesses in a bunch of other counties that aren’t having a problem. She said that the bill the passed in the house had some language that could hurt small counties. She said that the confusion has to do with whether property is real or trade and gave the example of whether a washer and dryer should be considered property or personal because it is attached to the building.
Bob Grant said this is kind of a hot issue but not really because it only impacts to counties at this point. He said they need to balance in order to keep these businesses from moving without hurting all the other counties.
There was some discussion about a bill that would either people at colleges to carry guns or require schools to have metal detectors in order to make sure that no one has guns on campus. Bob Grant said he would like to see campuses have the flexibility to vote and make their own decisions regarding guns.
Caryn Tyson talked about how they feel like they are working on a lot of issues just to counter the federal government. She pointed out that the federal government wanted to prevent anyone under 16 from working on a farm and through the efforts of the state legislature the federal government backed off on what they were trying to do.