In the Senate, the last few weeks, We have worked many bills and voted on final action. I have listed a summery of several bills of importance to many. Of course the pressing issue of school finance should be finalized the week of March 21. The House version of school finance bill was defeated in the House, thus we will be working on the Senate version. I was honored to have many constituent guest the past couple of weeks. Among them were students and teachers from Ellsworth. I was also asked to speak to the leadership Morris County class. Many Farm Bureau members from several counties in the Senate District 35, stopped by to advocate their position on the many issues confronting Agriculture today. Again I want to thank all of my supporters and constituents, as it is a privilege to serve you in the Senate
▪ 50.3% of the SGF, $3.2 billion, was appropriated for K-12 education for FY 2016. (KLRD)▪ In FY 2016, K-12 funding increased 2.5% from FY 2015. (KLRD)▪ From FY 2015 to FY 2016, the total budget for education grew 2.0%. (KLRD)▪ From FY 2015 to FY 2016, the Kansas Highway Patrol and the KBI saw a total increase of funding from the SGF by 40.5% (KLRD)
STAR BOND REFORMS
The Senate passed a measure reforming the Department of Commerce’s Sales Tax as Revenue (STAR) Bonds Program this week. These provisions were included in a bill which originally only authorized the sale of the Kansas Bioscience Authority. This bill was amended on the floor of the Senate to include 10 reforms that the Department of Commerce Secretary has been working with legislators on developing. The amendments adopted on the floor provide for oversight from the Secretary of Commerce and to implement a number of the 2005 Legislative Post Audit recommendations, including clarifying the original legislative intent of STAR bonds, periodic audits of projects, and include statutory provisions for recouping moneys that are not spent in accordance with the law.
The Governor line-item vetoed a budget proviso in early March which would have halted the American Royal project in Wyandotte County. The Senate this week voted to override Governor Brownback’s veto of the proviso with a vote of 30-8, exceeding the constitutional majority requirement of 27. The House has not yet considered a veto override. Governor Brownback announced prior to the Senate’s debate on the override that he would halt all STAR bonds around the state if the legislature is successful at overriding the line item veto.
SCHOOL FINANCE – EQUITY RESPONSE
This week, the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on and passed out a bill which is believed to satisfy the opinion of the Kansas Supreme Court in Gannon v. Kansas that the current block grant funding system is inequitable. The Senate bill restores the old equity formula used prior to implementation of the block grants. No new money is allocated with this proposal and it simply shifts existing funds among the districts to equalize. The intent of this bill is to prevent the Court from shutting down the schools, as they indicated in the opinion. The Kansas Association of School Boards and the Kansas Policy Institute testified as neutral on the bill with only the Blue Valley School District opposing the bill. It is likely that the bill will worked and voted on in the Senate next week.
NO GITMO DETAINEES IN KANSAS
HCR 5024 urges President Obama to abandon his goal of transferring detained terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to Fort Leavenworth. The concurrent resolution notes that both Fort Leavenworth and the community do not possess the proper law enforcement, emergency response, and resources to hold the detainees. In addition the transportation of these criminals to the Heartland puts American citizens at risk, damage the local economy and present grave impacts toward the state. The resolution passed in the House with a 104-16 vote. In the Senate this week, the resolution passed with 32 voting yea and 7 voting nay. All present Republican Senators voted in favor of the resolution, which will now be sent to the White House and the Kansas congressional delegation.
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO HUNT, FISH AND TRAP
HCR 5008 was passed by the Senate this week on a vote of 36-0. The resolution’s constitutional amendment, the right to hunt, fish, and trap wildlife, will now be present on the ballot during the general election in November of this year. Should Kansans wish to add the amendment to the Kansas Constitution, a simple majority of the votes cast would be needed.
Uniform Commercial Code updates—Sub HB 2062 – This bill amends provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) concerning remittance transfers as defined in the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA). The bill makes technical amendments to the UCC and provides the state law would apply to a remittance transfer unless it is an electronic fund transfer. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Prairie Band Potawatomie Nation Compact —SB 484 – This bill approves a state compact between the Prairie Band Potawatomie Nation and the state of Kansas. The compact would provide the state with necessary information to enforce the escrow requirements, ability to verify sales data, the ability to provide documentation to the participating manufacturers of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) and the ability to require continued certification and compliance of the Kansas MSA statutes by manufacturers. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska Compact—SB 485 – This bill approves a state compact between the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska and the state of Kansas. The compact would provide the state with necessary information to enforce the escrow requirements, ability to verify sales data, the ability to provide documentation to the participating manufacturers of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) and the ability to require continued certification and compliance of the Kansas MSA statutes by manufacturers. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Increasing Auto Insurance Liability Limit—HB 2446 – This bill amends the Kansas Automobile Injury Registrations Act to increase the minimum motor vehicle liability insurance policy limit for property damage from not less than $10,000 to not less than $25,000 for policies issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2017. The existing limits for bodily injury are unchanged with this legislation. The bill passed the Senate 35-4.
Insurance coverage; in-network providers—HB 2454 – This bill would permit a health carrier licensed to offer accident and sickness insurance in Kansas to offer an insurance product that requires from or all of the health care services to be rendered by participating providers, but also requires emergency services to be covered even if not delivered by a participating provider. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Enacting the Host Families Act—S Sub HB 2112 – This bill would enact the Host Families Act, where a parent or legal custodian of a child would be allowed to execute a power of attorney to delegate another person for up to one year any powers regarding the care and custody of the child, except for the powers to consent to marriage or adoption of the child, the performance of an abortion for the child, or the termination of parental rights to the child, which could not be delegated. The power of attorney could be extended by a year if necessary. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Citizen Grand Juries—Sub HB 2151 – This bill amends law relating to citizen grand juries and would allow the person who filed the petition and their attorney to witness instructions given to the grand jury, after it is summoned but before deliberations begin. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Corrections Program Credits—HB 2447 – This bill would increase the maximum number of days an inmate’s sentence may be shortened for earning program credits from 90 to 100 days. The bill would also permit the dismissal of parole, conditional release, or post-release supervision violation charges to be conditioned upon the released inmate agreeing to credit being withheld for the period of time from the date the Secretary of Corrections issued a warrant to the date the offender was arrested. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Property Theft Felony Threshold—HB 2462 – This bill modifies the current law relating to theft of property or services and increases the felony threshold to $2,000 from $1,000 worth of property. The bill raises the maximum amount required for a theft to be classified as a Class A nonperson misdemeanor from $1,000 to $2,000. The bill passed the Senate 31-6.
Criminalizing “Revenge Porn” —HB 2501 – This bill amends the crime of breach of privacy to include disseminating or permitting the dissemination of any videotape, photo, film or image of another identifiable person 18 years or older who is nude or engaged in sexual activity and under circumstances in which the other person had a reasonable expectation of privacy and did not consent to dissemination. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Disclosure of Legal Affidavits—HB 2545 – This bill amends statutory provisions governing the disclosure of affidavits or sworn testimony supporting arrest and search warrants to provide that the disclosed information would become part of the court record and shall be accessible to the public. The bill would require the prosecutor to notify any victim of an alleged crime that resulted in the issuance of the warrant of the request for disclosure. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Nursing Home Provider Tax Sunset Extension—SB 457 – This bill increases the maximum annual amount of the quality care assessment and extends the sunset of the Nursing Home Provider Tax. It increases the current quality care assessment from $1,950 to $4,909 per licensed bed. This bill was introduced at the request of the nursing home association and is imperative for the nursing homes to receive federal matching funds. The bill passed the Senate 34-5.
Wichita Fast-Pass—SB 421 – This bill was introduced at the request of the city of Wichita and would allow for a restricted access entrance in a public building, making state and municipal buildings more user-friendly. The bill passed the Senate 38-0.
Codifying treatment standards for residential care facilities—SB 422 –This bill provides for the development, establishment, and enforcement of standards for the care, treatment, health, safety, welfare and comfort of individuals residing in residential care facilities, private and public psychiatric hospitals, community mental health centers and providers of other disability services licensed by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. The bill was amended on the Senate floor to require legislative approval prior to the privatization of Osawatomie or Larned State hospitals. The bill passed the Senate 31-5.
CARE program updates—SB 445 – This bill provides clarification to existing law regarding the Client Assessment, Referral and Evaluation (CARE) program operated under KDADS and was technical in nature. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Docket Fee Authority to Supreme Court—SB 454 – This bill relates to court docket fees and grants the Supreme Court authority on setting docket fee amounts. It also creates the Electronic Filing and Management Fund. This bill was crafted as part of a response to the Solomon v. State case, which indicated chief judge elections being a significant violation of the general administrative authority of the Supreme Court. The bill passed the Senate 30-7.
Rural Telecom and Broadband Services—S Sub HB 2131 – This bill establishes the relationship between broadband and wireless service providers and any governing body that is authorized by law to make legislative, quasi-judicial or administrative decisions concerning a service provider’s application to construct, modify, or replace wireless support structures and facilities. The bill passed 35-4.
Alzheimer’s Awareness License Plate—HB 2473 – This bill would authorize an Alzheimer’s disease awareness license plate and authorize those with additional types of distinctive military license plates to purchase decals indicating the owner has received certain military honors. The bill passed the Senate unanimously. The bill passed the Senate 39-0.
Restricted Driver’s License Fee—HB 2563 – This bill adds a $25 fee for an application for a license to operate a motorized bicycle from a person who has had their driving privileges suspended. The bill was brought by the Department of Motor Vehicles to help cover costs of the extensive records review necessary to determine eligibility for this restricted license. The bill passed the Senate 36-3.
Military College Tuition—HB 2567 – This bill reinstates eligibility for resident student tuition rates at postsecondary institutions previously granted by the Legislature to certain military veterans and their families. This eligibility was inadvertently eliminated in a bill last year which brought Kansas into compliance with the federal Choice Act. The billpassed the Senate 39-0.
UPDATED SESSION CALENDAR
Last day for bills to be considered by non-exempt committees
On floor all day
Conference Committees meet
Last day for conference committees to agree
Conference Committee reports
Drop Dead Day – First Adjournment
March 26 thru April 26
Veto Session begins (Day 69)