Week seven in the Kansas legislature marks the end of – turnaround week – round one of a process that essentially determines which bills will be considered for the remainder of the session. Among the bills that did not survive this 2014 session are the: anti-fluoridated water HB2372, surrogacy ban SB302, ban on city provision of broadband SB304, and ban on the incompatibility divorce clause HB2604.
Your calls, emails and activity on social media HAVE made a difference – if not eliminating problematic bills, at least softening or slowing some down.
Unfortunately, some productive bills and amendments did not make it out of committee, but we applaud those legislative efforts, such as the bills Requiring Court of Appeals Applicant Information Made Public (SB252) and the Kansas Protection against Voter Suppression (SB253/HB2428).
Unfortunately, many problematic bills are still alive – and focused on state regulation of local units of government and ideological agendas. Before we recap this list of bills, we ask you to consider:
Why are Kansas legislative leaders ignoring the elephant in the room - the failing tax policy - and spending so much time working ideological bills that restrict individual and local control… taking over local elections, capping local property taxes, censoring K12 art and literature, legalizing discrimination, dictating divorce terms, sanctioning spanking, banning broadband, eliminating education standards, legislating against fluoridated water, banning surrogacy and more … all this when total state general funds are down and declining, even with the one-time February boost in deposits?
Back to the list of bills still alive. We will continue to inform you as soon as we know which ones will be worked on a given day, however, legislative committee agendas are frequently late in being posted. Remain confident that your quick turnaround by email and activity on social media WILL continue to make a difference.
The first three bills below have hearings scheduled for this Wed and Thurs, March 5 & 6. Call the committee assistant and ask that you be added to their tally in opposition of these bills. Look for a separate Action Alert on some of these bills.
Bills OUT of Alignment with MainStream
Restricting Changes to Party Affiliation HB2210. As amended, this bill would prohibit a person from changing party affiliation from the time of the candidate filing deadline (June 1) through the time when primary election results are certified by the Secretary of State (on or before Sept 1). This bill passed the House chamber in 2013 and was referred on to the Senate. Hearing: Wed, March 5, 9:30 am, in the exempt Senate Ethics and Elections committee. MainStream provided testimony opposing the bill as this is another attempt to control elections and limit voter participation.
To OPPOSE, call Diane Tork, Committee Assistant at 785-296-7667.
Take from Capital Improvement Funds to Pay for Classroom Instruction SB305. This bill takes state money from capital improvement state aid (bricks and mortar) and shifts it to the supplemental general state aid (operational budget for classroom instruction). Essentially this bill would create a new problem to resolve an existing one. This bill never made it out of committee, but was given special blessing and referred to the exempt Senate Ways and Means Committee. Hearing: Wed, March 5, 10:30 am. MainStream is testifying in opposition to this bill as it further curtails our State's ability to provide suitable provision for public education.
To OPPOSE, Call Dee Heideman, Committee Assistant at 785-296-3775.
Prohibition of State Moneys to Lobby Gun Control SB45. This bill follows the 2013 law, sponsored by limited government legislators, to prevent local units of government from using any state resources to challenge gun laws. This bill passed the Senate chamber in 2013 and referred on. Hearing: Wed, March 5, 1:30 pm, in the exempt House Elections Committee.
To OPPOSE, call Diane Brian, Committee Assistant at 785-296-7501.
Requiring a Municipal Vote to Retain Increased Property Revenues HB2047. As amended, this would prohibit most municipalities, absent a majority vote and publication of such vote in official county newspapers, from approving annual budgets or other appropriations funded by certain increases in property taxes over the prior year that are in excess of the rate of inflation. This bill passed the House chamber in 2013, the Senate Assessment and Taxation committee recommended the bill be passed as amended Feb 2014. If the bill passes the Senate chamber, it will go to Gov. Brownback to become law.
State Forced Changes to Local Elections HB2227. This bill moves municipal and local elections from Spring to Fall. This change would adversely affect school board leadership, interrupting elected officials in the middle of the school year. f moved to odd years in the fall, local elections could remain non-partisan, but fail to save money. If moved to even years, local elections would coincide with partisan elections and potentially exclude military persons who are not allowed to be engaged in partisan activities, from serving. HB 2227 was referred to exempt House Committee on Taxation. No hearing scheduled to date.
Health Care Compact HB2553. This bill is an attempt to impose a Kan-Care type system on Kansas seniors by releasing all of the state’s federal Medicare funds to the state for control and distribution. Medicare participants would no longer receive guaranteed benefits. This bill is an unnecessary risk of the health care and security of more than 448,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Kansas – 16% of the total Kansas population. This bill passed out of House committee Fed & State Affairs Feb 2014, no hearing scheduled to date, but remains on the House calendar.
For-Profit/Private Run Charter Schools SB196 This bill is a wolf in a sheep's clothing. It allows for-profit, private entities to run public charter schools with minimal accountability. The track record of for-profit run charter schools is tainted with fraud and financial abuse. School choice, in reality, is in the hands of the school not the parent, by giving schools the authority to establish waiting lists, fine students for misconduct and delay special education due process – all while draining funds from local public schools and reducing state revenue. This bill never made it out of committee, but was given special blessing and referred to the exempt Senate Ways and Means committee. No hearing scheduled to date. MainStream provided testimony opposing this bill.
Vouchers, by way of Corporate Tax Credit Scholarships H Sub SB22. This bill is a deliberate attempt to circumvent the Kansas Constitution and to establish a legal loophole to divert taxpayer dollars for private/parochial schools. The bill is unnecessary and irresponsibly jeopardizes the state’s capacity to protect equitable and equal access to quality education for ALL at-risk and special needs Kansas youth. The bill passed the Senate chamber in 2013, failed to get referred to an exempt House committee before turnaround week, sitting in House Education committee and may be bundled. MainStream provided testimony opposing the bill.
Ban on Education Standards HB2621. This bill would ban the implementation and funding of the current College and Career Ready Education Standards, including the Next Generation Science Standards. This bill never made it out of the Education committee, but was given special blessing and referred to the exempt House Taxation committee. No hearing is scheduled to date. MainStream testified against this bill.
Bribery Campaign Contributions HB2381. This bill allows party-designated campaign committees to take contributions DURING the legislative session, from anyone—anytime. The bill also allows political committees to receive loans that require repayment—allowing candidates to inflate their campaign viability. This bill passed the House in 2013 and the Senate Ethics and Elections committee recommended passage as amended Feb 2014. The bill remains on the Senate calendar. An amendment to prevent the campaign committees from taking contributions DURING the session was put forth by Senator Hensley, although it did not pass. Thank you for the effort.
Not so Speedy Trials SB312. Rather than adequately fund our courts, this bill extends the holding time from 90 to 150 days (an additional 2 months) to await criminal trial before a person is entitled to be discharged. This bill just passed the Senate Feb 27, 2014 as amended. The House committee to which the bill has been referred has not been posted to date.
Legalized Discrimination HB2453.
While not likely to pass, Rep. Marc Rhoades still hopes to rework this bill that legalizes discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. This bill passed in the House Feb 2014 and was referred to the Senate Judiciary committee. MainStream provided testimony opposing the bill.
NOTE! A hearing on the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act will occur on Thursday at 10:30 am before Senate Judiciary, room 346-South. Watch for additional information from MainStream!
Censoring Art and Literature in our Schools SB401. This bill not only allows for the removal of books and art, but opens educators up for criminal prosecution, where: "a reasonable person would find that the material or performance lacks serious literary, scientific, educational, artistic or political value for minors." What is the legal definition of ‘a reasonable person’? This bill passed out of committee as amended Feb 2014 and was referred to the exempt Senate Ways and Means committee. No hearing is scheduled to date.
Human Sexuality/Sex Education SB376/HB2620. While the House bill as amended removed the health component, required districts to have an explicit parental notification and curriculum review policy, and returned to an opt-out parental clause, this bill would set unwarranted precedence for the legislature to override the authority of our state and locally elected school board members. Both bills are still sitting in their respective education committees. Neither were passed out of committee or referred to exempt committees.
Bills IN Alignment with MainStream
In our efforts to reclaim smart government, consider these bills calling for responsible investments.
Funding Levels for Local Budget Authority with Equalization SB277. The bill would extend funding the local option authority with state equalization at $4,433 per pupil thru 2019. Current calculation rate is set to expire June 30, 2014 and drop to the current base state aid rate of $3,838, which is a cut of $595 per student. Districts could lose millions. This bill was introduced in the exempt Senate Ways and Means committee Jan 2014. Hearing: scheduled Wed, March 5 at 10:30 am.
To SUPPORT the bill, call Dee Heideman, Committee Assistant at 785-296-3775.
All Day Kindergarten SB341. The bill would phase in full day kindergarten funding in increments over five years achieving the goal of full funding in 2018-2019, working up to $80 million annually. The concern is that no new revenue would be added to the state budget and the funds would be taken out of existing at-risk funds or other areas of the state budget and seriously compromising school district’s capacity to meet the full needs of all at-risk youth. The Governor could proclaim that another piece of his plan was accomplished without adding one penny in additional funding. The bill is being heard in an exempt special committee. No information has been posted to date on the next committee meeting. Testimony has been by invitation only.
Legislative Meetings Transparency and Accountability Act HB2438/SB413. These bills would provide public live audio and video broadcasts of committee meetings, where bills are worked and public testimony is allowed. These complimentary bills sit in respective exempt committees – the House Appropriations and Senate Federal and State Affairs committee, keeping both bills alive. No hearings have been scheduled to date.
Pending - Gannon School Finance Lawsuit
We continue to watch for the Kansas Supreme Court ruling on the Gannon School Finance lawsuit. The court typically files its decisions on Friday mornings. MainStream will publish a special Legislative Update, following the announcement.
Don’t get Mad, get Registered – Help a friend and neighbor register today. Mark the August 5, 2014 primaries on your calendar for state and national elections. Set the calendar reminder to mid-July for advance voting. And don’t forget, local spring general elections are April 1, 2014.
Correction: From our February 15 Update, President of AT&T Kansas is Steve Hahn.