February 16, 2007
Bills are flying through hearings and markups (when we “markup” a bill, add or remove language to perfect the bill) and onto the House floor. The deadline to move bills out of committee is one week from today. As bills pile up to be considered by the full House, we will be “on the floor” the bulk of next week considering dozens of bills each day. The deadline for non-exempt bills to be passed out of the House is next Saturday, February 24th. This is called “Turnaround” because the bills must be turned around to the other chamber.
Jargon Alert: Bills are exempt from all deadlines if they are referred to the House Appropriations, Tax, Federal & State Affairs, or Calendar & Printing committees, or Senate Ways & Means or Federal & State Affairs prior to next Saturday. The leadership team, and ultimately the Speaker of the House has final say on where House bills are referred. It is a common practice to “bless” bills prior to Turnaround. The Speaker would withdraw a bill from a committee, refer it to an exempt committee, and then refer the bill back to its original committee. The bill would have then touched an exempt committee and is able to be discussed at any point throughout the legislative session.
Education and Personal Activities
Commerce & Labor
Transportation – Very controversial bills this week!
Government Efficiency & Technology
Resources - View your Spring Primary Election ballot!
• End of survey! If you haven’t completed the 2007 legislative survey, click here before Friday, February 23rd: www.stephaniesharp.com/2007survey.
• Join me at the Ritz-Charles this Saturday (137th & Antioch) for the Johnson County Public Policy Committee’s monthly Eggs & Issues breakfast. The JCPPC is comprised of members of all of the JoCo Chambers of Commerce and they host these breakfasts throughout the legislative session with about six legislators per breakfast. It’s 7:30 a.m., and there’s plenty of coffee available.
On Monday, we debated HB 2031, a franchise tax repeal. Kansas’ franchise tax is a tax on assets of a company, in addition to the other corporate and income taxes businesses pay. This tax falls disproportionately hard on small businesses and discourages investment. During debate we defeated a variety of amendments regarding health care, tax caps for the elderly, and other issues of great merit that I would normally support, but not germane (relevant) to the bill.
The bill passed 91-30. I voted YES.
Bill Text: http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2031.pdf
My explanation of vote: I vote yes on HB 2031 because it is a long-term commitment to the future of economic opportunity in Kansas. While I strongly support health care for Kansans and provisions to assist older Kansas taxpayers, a tax cut that will make it easier for companies to expand their businesses is not a topical time or place to have these discussions.
Small businesses are the heart of the Kansas economy and the soul of our communities. HB 2031 will enable those businesses to reach their potential and hire more Kansas workers.
I vote YES.
Education and Personal Activities
Thursday was the hearing on my uninsured vehicle property damage bill, HB 2378 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2378.pdf). It went very well, with only one opponent, the KS Trial Lawyers Association. They made general arguments about fixing the “why” of people driving without insurance, and there are already fines in place to deter this activity, but made no specific argument other than it wasn’t fair to those who can’t afford insurance. The way I look at it, those driving without insurance make insurance more expensive for the rest of us, therefore putting insurance further out of their reach. It’s cyclical.
• A constituent pointed out this sort of logic is like a thief stealing your TV, being convicted and fined for stealing your TV, and then getting to keep your TV.
Commerce & Labor
We heard testimony on a bill to enable employers to issue paycards in lieu of hard copy checks to employees who do not wish to be signed up for direct deposit. As a fan of e-everything, I like to see when companies are slimming down and becoming more efficient. A paycard is basically a debit card with an individual PIN and can be used at ATMS to withdraw the full amount of the paycheck, or used anywhere a credit card could be used. Another concern brought to the committee was check-cashing services that take a significant cut in order to cash your check. Some folks just aren’t comfortable with banks and do not have a bank where they can cash a check, and it’s hard to find anyone who will cash a second-party check anymore. As a kid, I remember my parents sending me to Dillon’s with a check made out to “CASH” and riding my bike back home with money in hand.
HB 2316: http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2316.pdf
Bills passed out of committee:
We passed a “rats and cats” bill with minor technical changes to the Real Estate Commission.
HB 2314 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2314.pdf) is the accountancy education bill, what I called the “AP Bill” last year. The Board of Accountancy basically maintained their absolute authority to deny AP or CLEP credit. We removed that portion. They also had written in their bill that a student would need 150 credit hours. As you probably know, that is a LOT more than a bachelor’s degree requires. In fact, that’s only a few hours shy of my requirement for TWO bachelor’s degrees! We backed that down to at least 100 hours, and maintained the bachelor’s degree requirement.
HB 2268 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2268.pdf) requires pest inspectors to be certified to inspect a home for pests (termites, ants, etc.).
HB 2456 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2456.pdf) reduces unemployment tax payments by 40% across the board. There is huge surplus of money in the unemployment fund and the structure of the tax has many flaws, so a cut would enable companies to keep this money rather than just watch it sit in a fund. This bill doesn’t cost the state anything because these dollars just sit in a fund that pays unemployed workers when they apply for unemployment benefits. There is a lot more money in the fund than employees getting, or even projected to apply for benefits.
HB 2211 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2211.pdf) would establish a “Support Our Troops” license plate, with proceeds going to Kansas Support Our Troops, which provides funds for military families with members serving away from home.
HB 2374 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2374.pdf) would allow the State to share the driving record of an employee with an employer on a regular basis. Current law allows for multi-year checkups, but this bill would allow an employer to collect that information more regularly for safety and insurance purposes.
HB 2136 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2136.pdf) establishes a primary seatbelt law in Kansas. We heard some amazing testimony and were given a lot of statistics that I had never seen together in one place. Already this year, we’ve lost 43 Kansans to vehicle deaths that could have been prevented by wearing a seatbelt. The annual costs in Kansas alone for these preventable deaths is more than $3 billion! Implementing a primary seatbelt law is expected to save 140-158 deaths and 2,190-2,387 serious injuries.
HB 2400 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2400.pdf) is the Graduated Driver’s License bill. This bill is the result of a task force to reduce vehicle deaths in Kansas. Kansas is one of only five states with no restrictions on teen driving. Except for AZ, AR, ND and MN have night restrictions, passenger restrictions, or both. The Driving Force task force recommended the following changes through HB 2400:
• Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt or child restraint
• Driver cannot use a cell phone while driving
• A restricted license can be issued if the driver has held an instruction permit for at least one year.
• Completed a driver training course and a parent can verify 50 hours of adult-supervised driving with at least 10 of those at night
• For the first six months of that restricted permit, the driver can only drive between 5:00 am to 9 pm, and must have a 21+ year old adult in the passenger’s seat who has had at least one year of driving experience.
o After six months, if none of these provisions have been violated, the driver can drive at any time.
• Without a 21+ chaperone, a restricted driver may have only one passenger under the age of 21 in the vehicle. Family members are exempt, but if your <21 siblings are in the car, no other passengers can be.
Bills passed out of committee:
HB 2071 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2071.pdf) is the military renaming bill discussed previously (http://stephaniesharp.com/issues/the-sharp-record-2007/january-26-2007/) with one minor amendment. Members of the military (and the committee) thought it more appropriate to strike the Patriot Guard from the bill because although many members are veterans, it is not a veterans’ organization. We are considering other ways to honor the work of the Patriot Guard.
Government Efficiency & Technology
Hearings on HB 2207 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2207.pdf) and HB 2457 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2457.pdf) are bills to implement a website to surf the state’s budget expenditures. So, if you’re curious about how much is spent on aging care in community programs, you could search with key words “in-home care” or “community aging” or if you’re in the industry, you would search for “HCBS”, which stands for Home and Community Based Services. Or At-Risk Funding in the South Haven School District, or how much a certain chunk of road improvements is costing…
HB 2207 is a bit broader, which seems to open up business and private tax records to be “Googled”, which isn’t going to happen, don’t worry! The committee is working to craft a bill with the Department of Administration to determine what is possible and what the State needs to have to be able to accomplish the goals of transparency put forth in these two bills.
• Kansas Independent Colleges: I joined Dr. Dick Merriman, President of Southwestern College for lunch
• Kansas Banker’s Association dinner
• Johnson County delegation luncheon sponsored by Overland Park and United Community Services
Last Week’s Question: In 1920, “this Kansas company used fifty-nine different kinds of
material gathered from all parts of the United States and the world” and manufactured over 450,000 products. Name the company, identify the its product advertised as “Sunshine of the Night,” and give the location of the key room where a key that belonged to the founder is displayed.
Answer: Marci Blank of Lenexa got it! I know many of you were on a wild chase throughout the state, trying to figure this one out. I think we accomplished my goal of more challenging trivia than in previous editions!
• The Coleman Company, Coleman lantern. The elusive key? At the Baldpate Inn, Estes Park, Colorado.
Email my session assistant, Mary Koles at firstname.lastname@example.org to answer the question. The first correct answer received to that address wins a prize, and recognition with the correct answer in next week’s Sharp Record.
New Question: In 1905 the Kansas oil fields produced faster than Standard Oil could refine. At that time, heavy oil sold for $____ a barrel in Kansas and water sold for $0.42.
Find your long lost CASH!!! http://www.kansascash.com/prodweb/up/disclaimer_page.php
Keep Kansas Sharp Blog: www.keepkansassharp.blogspot.com
Kansas Legislature: http://www.kslegislature.org
KS Ethics Commission: http://www.kansas.gov/ethics/
KS Legislative Research: http://skyways.lib.ks.us/ksleg/KLRD/klrd.html
Johnson County Election Office - www.jocoelection.org
Spring Primary Election information:
Voter Look-Up: See your sample ballot!
Johnson County Election Office, 2101 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe
* February 20 - February 23
Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
* February 24
Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
* February 26
Monday 9:00 a.m. to noon
Next week’s committee schedule: See anything of interest to you?
House Agenda: http://www.kslegislature.org/agstat/2007/ha0202.pdf
Senate Agenda: http://www.kslegislature.org/agstat/2007/sa0202.pdf
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