February 10, 2006
Finder's Fee? Did you find long-lost cash on the Kansas Unclaimed Property website www.kansascash.com? I know you're feverishly searching the internet for my campaign mailing address so you can thank me by contributing a portion of your findings! ;) Well, search no more - you can make checks out to "Sharp for Kansas", and mail to PO Box 19556, Lenexa, KS 66285, or donate online at www.stephaniesharp.com/donate.htm. (The above paragraph does not apply to lobbyists. During the legislative session, elected officials are prohibited from soliciting funds from registered lobbyists.)
Education and Personal Activities
Commerce and Labor
Governmental Organizations and Elections
Deliberative Democracy forum:
As I've said before, learning about deliberative democracy sessions across the country has opened my eyes to how backwards we "do politics". Currently, elected officials host town hall meetings and tell you, after it's already happened, what went on during the session, or on a bill, etc. Deliberative democracy forums bring together, in my case, voters in the 17th district to discuss hot topics like education and health care, hash out problems and find solutions that advance the greater good. This helps leaders develop legislation from the grassroots - bills you think would help Kansans.
Since many of you indicated an interest, you are invited to come observe the forum I am hosting on Sunday, March 5th. I was determined not to "stack" the panel with a bunch of folks I know and would share my views, so the panel is completely random. I have invited all area elected officials to observe, the point is to listen and learn, not to pontificate! I particularly liked the idea of citizens talking and elected officials listening!
Here's the info: Sunday, March 5, 1:00 - 3:00 pm, Lackman Library Conference Room, 15345 W. 87th Street, Lenexa. The library is just a hair west of the Westlakes/Panera/Rimann Liquor store complex on the south side of 87th.
Hope to see you there!
Education and Personal Activities
My driver's license bill, HB 2690 had a hearing in the House Insurance Committee on Thursday afternoon. Constituent Craig Jorgensen brought the idea to my attention and provided great testimony on how this bill could impact the cost of insurance in Kansas, while at the same time, discouraging drivers from driving sans insurance.
Also, at the request of John and Marilyn Britz of Lenexa, I have introduced a bill to provide a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to KPERS recipients. The bulk of KPERS (KS Public Employee Retirement System) retirees are retired teachers. HB 2766 would provide the same increase state employees received last year – 2.5%. Except, KPERS recipients have not received a COLA since 1998!
Senate: To give you an idea of what is headed toward the House, I will be giving an overview of interesting bills being considered before the Kansas Senate.
§ Concealed Carry: SB 418 was debated on the Senate floor on Thursday. Passed the Senate 29-11. The only Johnson County Senators that voted against it were: Vratil, Wysong, and Allen. Senator Wysong attempted to exempt churches from bill, but apparently a gun in church is a popular idea - the amendment failed.
§ Wine shipments: Sub 370 was debated on the Senate floor Thursday as well. The bill is a bit convoluted – it allows you to order wine over the internet and pick it up at an approved retailer within a couple of days. However, this legislation will not allow this to happen with wines that are already distributed and sold by a licensed distributor. So, if you find a great price on the Placido Pinot Grigio, but your local retailer sells it too, you're out of luck. There are a handful of other stipulations, but you can read them for yourself here. It passed the Senate 36-4.
§ Campaign Finance: SB 68 passed out of Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, giving Kansas hope for "sunshine" on campaign finances of candidates. Here's what the bill looks like now.
As discussed in previous editions of the Sharp Record, the Higher Education Committee forwarded HB 2593 enabling the Board of Regents to offer students health insurance. The bill became quite controversial when an amendment was offered to ensure the insurance did not cover abortions. Considering that abortion is mostly an elective procedure, I am not aware of any insurance company that would cover it anyway, and I'm guessing the Regents' plan doesn't either. I wasn't opposed to having that language as an amendment, because it didn't really have much affect on the intent of the bill, or what happens in normal practice.
Bill passed 110-14. I voted YES.
HB 2611 is generally controversial, because we end up legislating for bad parents. The bill would require children not in a baby seat to be in a booster seat unless any of these are true: 1) the child is over age 8, 2) the child is over 80 pounds, or 3) the child is over 4' 9" in height. I know many of your children will read the riot act over being placed back into a seat, but statistics are overwhelming on the reduction of the severity of injuries with booster seats. If a truck lands on top of your car, a booster seat isn't going to save anyone. But, if you are in an accident, booster seats protect children from spinal injuries that are caused when their size/weight/bone density is not adequate enough to be in a standard seat and seatbelt. For more information, check out Kansas Action for Children's brief: Final Action on this bill was postponed until Monday. I will vote YES.
Commerce and Labor
HB 2614 - Do you remember when we allowed retirees who were laid off or fired to receive unemployment compensation? Well, apparently those funds are now being offset by the amount of their pensions. This is similar to the Social Security offsets we have outlawed. The legislative intent of the bill in 2003 was for these folks to get unemployment, their employers are paying for it, and it should happen.
HB 2654 is a bill to significantly increase worker's compensation benefits and remove the cap from payments on someone given permanent total disability.
HB 2753 would render claims dismissed if the hearing has not concluded after five years, unless a motion to extend has been filed.
SB 139 - Congratulations to constituents Jerry Magliano, Don Norwood, and Senator Nick Jordan on a great hearing before the HE Committee on last year's KAMS bill. You might remember this bill sets up a public academy (like 14 other states already have) to boost exceptional students' access to math and science education at our Regents Universities.
HB 2694 would establish a residency appeals board for students that are denied residency at our state institutions.
Governmental Organizations and Elections
HB 2742 would allow probable cause warrants to be open court records following execution of the warrant. The concern with this one, as told by one of the attorneys on the BTK case in Wichita, is that if they would have opened the probable cause warrants for previous suspects, it would have alerted the eventual suspect to how much information law enforcement had on the case and the potential suspect(s).
HB 2744 - is a bill I introduced in this committee to enable the rest of Kansas to take advantage of the benefits of satellite voting. Currently, only Sedgwick and Johnson Counties are allowed to offer off-site (not at the election office) advance voting. The County Clerks wanted to open it up for other counties to take advantage of that as well.
HB 2719 - would require closed or executive sessions of elected bodies to be tape recorded, changing the open meeting act.
(Besides session and committees 9 am - 5 pm)
§ KS PTA lunch
§ KS Banker's Association reception
§ Meeting with Carlton McNair, member of the Silver-Haired Legislature, regarding the Area Agencies on Aging budget
§ KS Petroleum Marketers (convenience stores) luncheon
§ Briefing by Paul Ryan with the Reform Institute for Campaign and Election Issues on campaign finance reforms across the states
§ Met with K-State students about higher education funding issues – hello to Bryan Cox and Stacy Mayo!
§ Johnson County Chambers of Commerce reception in conjunction with the KS Chamber of Commerce and Industry annual chamber caucus. Guest speaker – Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives – Newt Gingrich.
§ Johnson County delegation luncheon sponsored by the KS Association of Broadcasters
§ Met with Linda McCulla of MOCSA, to discuss funding for programs to combat sexual assault.
§ Finney County dinner – hello to Cliff Mayo, Pete Olson, Janie Perkins, Reynaldo Mesa, Bob Halloran, Russ Jennings, City Council, County Commission, et. al.!
Johnson County Statehouse Hotline - Call Topeka for free! Dial 913.715.5000 and ask for your Representative or Senator. If you don't know, simply give them your address and they'll head you in the right direction!
Next Week's hearings: See any bills that
Please do not hesitate to contact me about these or any other issues of interest to you. I appreciate the opportunity to represent you in Topeka.
Rep. Stephanie Sharp
17th District, Kansas House
Serving Lenexa and Shawnee
Topeka phone: 785-296-7654 (Note: this is a change from last year.)