March 24, 2006
After a 4 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning and back again from 10 am – 5:30 pm, no breaks, I’m still a little groggy and catching up on sleep, so be gentle!
Poll: What do you think? Reply to this email with your answer!
Last week the KS State Board of Education passed "opt-in" for certain education courses about the birds and the bees. For the purposes of your filters, we'll call this "S education". How many times a year must I talk around issues?
In "opt in" education, students must bring a permission slip from their parents to participate in the "S ed" course. This is fine if you're an involved parent and pay attention to signing the slip. However, the kids without involved parents are probably the ones who are at higher risk and most need "S ed"! Right now, there is no penalty for districts that ignore the new regulation.
§ Districts currently offer "opt-out" for parents who do not want their child learning the curriculum. A bill that passed the Senate 27-13 would require districts to teach "S ed". The bill has not received a hearing in the House. Check out the explanation for SB 508: http://www.kslegislature.org/fiscalnotes/2006/508.pdf
§ Possible next steps? Denying accreditation to schools who do not teach "abstinence only" education.
§ KC Star Article: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/14109204.htm
In an effort to circumvent the State Board of Education, should the legislature require schools to teach "S education"?
Education and Personal Activities
Governmental Organization and Elections
Do you like the Sharp Record? Do you wish to continue receiving updates about your state government? I need your help to ensure they keep coming!
Although our education plan that passed this week was initiated in an attempt to avoid another expensive and divisive Special Session, there are still many in the legislature that want to put NO money into schools, period. So, there's always a good chance of another Special Session, and with that possibility, the more I will be away from campaigning and will need even more help than in years' past.* If you are able to:
1) Make phone calls in the evening to collect email addresses and yard sign locations from voters in the 17th District,
2) Walk your neighborhood to encourage neighbors to vote on August 1st (and vote for me),
3) Deliver yard signs,
4) Send postcards to your neighbors or host a neighborhood gathering, or
5) Anything else you would like to do?
Please reply to this email!
*Just FYI - I'm sending this email from home, on my personal computer, so there will be no question that I’m using state resources to announce campaign activities.
Thank yous to Anne Phelan and Tracy Clark for bring their kids (and friend) to page for me in Topeka this week: Bailie Phelan, Mallory Ayers, and Jonathan and Daniel Clark. They had a VERY busy day and a lot of work!
Education and Personal Activities
See below for a link to view votes on this bill.
As you've seen in the papers, our coalition came together again this year (a couple months earlier than last year, thankfully) to debate a plan that follows the Post Audit recommendations and shows a multi-year commitment to Kansas students. The process started with a one-year plan that was brought to the floor for debate. Many of us felt a one-year plan would put us right back in Special Session. So we crafted a plan to help every school district and address the concerns of both the Legislative Post Audit study (LPA) and the Court. I'll define the jargon as we go through:
§ $50 increase in the Base State Aid Per Pupil (BSAPP), which is the amount, before special weightings, that districts receive for each student.
§ All-Day K: over the next three years, districts will receive about $70 million to encourage them to go to full-day kindergarten. Studies overwhelmingly show this improves students' ability to excel in school (avoiding more at-risk costs later!)
§ Correlation weighting, now called "High Enrollment Weighting" to parallel its opposite, Low Enrollment Weighting. The plan increases the number of districts to receive extra money for being large.
§ Special Ed excess costs - the federal government is supposed to pay for the bulk of our Special Education costs, but they don't, so the State must pick up the tab, but we can only afford to do so much… This plan increases funding for excess Special Education costs to 92 percent.
§ Nearly $200 million for at-risk programs, including extra boosts for those areas with extremely high at-risk percentages.
o Currently, schools get extra money based on the number of students they have that qualify for free-lunch, regardless of whether they are served by at-risk programs. The LPA recommended an extra "urban density" weighting for four districts (KCK, KCK-Turner, Topeka, and Wichita), but did not take into account high poverty rates in areas that are not as dense.
o Example: Dodge City has nearly 55 percent of its students that receive free lunch, and the four districts listed above average about 33 percent, so Dodge would receive no extra help, even though its poverty rate is extremely high.
o Resolution: Districts with greater than 40 percent of their population get the boost.
Here's how it went down:
To be honest, I don't even remember when the original bill came up for discussion, but it had to have been before midnight, but I didn't think to keep track until things got out of hand…
12:00 am+ HB 2986 comes up for discussion, Rep. Ward Loyd offers an amendment to replace the underlying bill with a compromise education plan.
1:30 am - first and second attempts to hurt Johnson County - cutting the Local Option Budget (LOB) and offsetting state funds by the amount of any local sales tax.
2:30 am - Legislative Post Audit study introduced as a bill - failed 124-0.
3:00 am - Third attempt to come after us - this equalizes the LOB only up to 25%, which goes directly against the Court's concerns about the equality argument.
4:00 am – After two filibusters and dozens of amendments, the bill finally passed, with the original bill carrier refusing to make the motion to move the bill out of Committee of the Whole. Upon the motion of the House Minority Leader, Dennis McKinney, the bill passed General Orders 64-57.
§ General Orders vs. Final Action vote: The House acts as a committee (Committee of the Whole) to hear testimony from other legislators on bills. This is called General Orders. A bill must pass G.O. (usually this happens on a voice vote) in order to get a final vote. If it passes, the House resolves itself as the House of Representatives (usually the next day), to vote on legislation that passed out of the Committee of the Whole. This is the Final Action vote that passes the bill out of the House.
Our coalition opposed amendments to change the plan we toiled to craft, in an effort to maintain the trust of the coalition. Dozens of amendments were offered to break the coalition, but we worked very hard to craft a plan where everyone compromised a little to get what we all wanted.
Click here to view roll call votes and amendments offered in the House Journal, which starts on page 32 of the document: http://www.kslegislature.org/journals/2006/hj0323.pdf
Bill: HB 2986 (This IS the updated version of the bill, including our changes from the late session) http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2006/2986.pdf
Explanation: The only thing online right now is the explanation of the original bill, so you'll have to see above. I'll try to somehow get all of the data on my website, but no guarantees!
Bill passed the House 64-61. I voted YES.
Estate Tax repeal
Here's another good fundamental Republican bill. I know not all of you are Republicans, but I think the estate tax inherently discourages business and investing. Basically, it's a tax you pay on the money you leave behind, that you've already paid taxes on a handful of times. Another term for this is the "death tax".
Bill: SB 365 http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2006/365.pdf
Bill passed the House 108-17. I voted YES.
SB 459 would revoke/deny hunting and fishing licenses for "deadbeat
dads and moms".
Bill passed the House 113-11. I voted YES.
AP credit granted. Remember the bill I mentioned in Commerce and Labor last week? This bill would require the KS Board of Accountancy to recognize credit hours earned for Advanced Placement exam scores to sit for the CPA exam. If the hours are good enough for a college degree, shouldn't they be good enough to take a test?
Bill: HB 3004 http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2006/3004.pdf
Bill passed the House 70-53. I voted YES.
Another constitutional amendment from last year's Special Session. This one would have reminded the Court they can't appropriate. They didn't appropriate funds, they said we were underfunding our constitutionally mandate to fund schools, and they told us how much it would take to comply with the constitution. That's why I voted against the amendment. Beyond that, I don’t think it's appropriate to change the constitution because we don't like one Court decision.
Bill: HCR 5032 http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2006/2006_5032.pdf
Bill passed the House 66-58. I voted NO.
Scruffy's Magnum law - this bill was a combination of a handful of animal cruelty bills introduced over the past few years (Scruffy, Magnum, etc). I think this is good legislation and will prevent the kind of disgusting abuses we've seen on TV in this area. From walking door-to-door, I know most of you are "dog people", myself included (Dan will be someday, too), so I was very happy to support this legislation. Yes, it's good for kitties too…
Bill: SB 408 http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2006/408.pdf
Bill passed the House 114-10. I voted YES.
Motorcycle handlebars - Current law prohibits motorcycle handlebars from rising above your shoulders. You've seen these on TV; they're called "ape-hangers" because the handlebars are so high that it looks like you're swinging on monkeybars. For you enthusiasts, this bill allows those high handlebars.
Bill: SB 278 http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2006/278.pdf
Bill passed the House 115-9. I voted NO.
You probably remember this term from your social studies classes in high school. Eminent domain is the power of units of government to acquire property by paying property owners the fair market value of their property.
After the Supreme Court's Kelo decision last summer affirming the status quo for this authority, many fear that governments are overusing eminent domain.
Most cities and counties use this authority with utmost caution, care, integrity, and responsibility. Unfortunately, like most laws that are passed, we legislate to protect against a tiny fraction of localities that abuse their powers of eminent domain. This will have adverse affects on those who do uphold the intent of the law, like Lenexa and Shawnee.
There were bills that ran the spectrum from absolutely NO eminent domain at all to maintaining the status quo, even a constitutional amendment. A compromise was crafted between the business and agriculture communities and was offered as an amendment. It did not pass onto the bill, but a handful of other amendments did that made me feel a little more comfortable with the bill that ended up on the House floor. This area is definitely not my bailiwick, so you'll have to read the explanation for more details. This is the bill that came to the House before amendments, and I don't remember what those amendments were now, but they improved the bill. Sorry, my brain is a little fried and I’m writing this right before I send it out on Saturday…
Bill: SB 323 http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2006/323.pdf
Bill passed the House 117-4. I voted YES.
Bills becoming law
Concealed carry veto override
Many of you saw the papers this week reporting Governor Sebelius' veto of SB 418, which would allow Kansans to carry a concealed handgun. Last night, the Senate, on a 30-10 vote, voted to override that veto.
Governor's veto was overridden by a vote of 91-33. I voted NO.
KAMS!!! This is constituents Don Norwood and Jerry Magliano's brainchild, inspired by the 14 other public academies around the U.S.
Bill passed the House 76-48. I voted YES.
Governmental Organizations and Elections
We passed out a bill to make it easier for city/city, city/county, and county/county consolidation. SB 379 was amended in committee to provide for a study commission to study the idea (not implement) of consolidating Wyandotte and Johnson Counties.
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!
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.)