March 2, 2007
This is a short week in the legislature. We came back Wednesday and debated the book-banning bill (HB 2200, see Floor Activities for details). Thursday and Friday begin another busy committee time because bills that passed the Senate are now being heard in House committees. This makes for a slow time on the House floor because bills have not had time to pass out of committees.
Many of you are clamoring for information about the progress of stem cell research legislation. For those that have emailed me, rest assured, I will not be voting for House Bill 2098. A short and slower week allows for a more in-depth look at this issue discussed below.
Stem Cell Update
Education and Personal Activities
Commerce & Labor
Government Efficiency & Technology
Stem Cell Update
Where we are: There are four House bills floating around that did not make it to debate in the House before last week’s deadline. However, House leadership “blessed” the bills by referring them to Federal & State Affairs, which is an exempt committee. If you remember from my overview a few weeks ago, a bill is exempt from all deadlines if it touches an exempt committee at any point (House Appropriations, Tax, Fed & State, Calendar & Printing). “Blessing” bills keeps them “alive” for the course of the session.
If you thought your friends out-of-state gave you a hard time about being from Kansas and the school board’s antics the past few years, the legislature is going to make that look like a cakewalk!
HB 2098 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2098.pdf) simply places in statute definitions for various scientific terms. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast. For example, this bill puts in law definitions of “cloning” that make it illegal to have identical twins. The bill is developed from the definitions of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Out of 18 people appointed to the Council, only four are researchers. The rest are ethicists, psychiatrists, lawyers, and professors of religion, morality, public policy, political science, and international economics.
On the other hand, you have the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health. Their definitions clash with those of the Bioethics Council, and I’ll let you decide which one you think researchers recognize and under which they practice. How do we think we can convince the Federal Bio- and Agro-Terrorism Facility to relocate here when we want to make their scientists practice under scientific definitions that aren’t recognized by any credible scientist?
This link is for a side-by-side comparison of definitions that was compiled by the Kansas Health Policy Authority: http://www.khpa.ks.gov/LegislativeInformation/DHPF%20Testimony/stemcelllegislativestudy.pdf
This link is for the Legislative Research briefer: http://www.kslegislature.org/supplemental/2008/SN2098.pdf.
HB 2252 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2252.pdf) criminalizes the commission, attempted commission, or participation in the act of human cloning (per the definition above), making it a level 5 person felony with a $250,000 fine.
HB 2254 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2254.pdf) does the same thing for buying, selling, receiving or transferring a human embryo, knowing it will be subjected to “destructive research”. Among other things, this prevents those eggs that are sitting in in-vitro fertilization clinic freezers, and will be tossed out after five years, from being donated for research.
HB 2255 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2255.pdf) is the real kicker, and due to committee action, this bill now includes the definitions in HB 2098. It would prohibit the use of state funds to do any of the following:
• Perform or attempt to perform human cloning (by their definitions in HB 2098 above) to create a cloned embryo;
• Participate in an attempt to perform human cloning to create a cloned embryo; or
• Ship or knowingly receive the product of human cloning for any purpose.
Why is this a big deal?
1. I’ll start with the last, first. Insulin is a cloned drug. If no one funded with state money can ship or knowingly receive the product of cloning, KU Medical Center for one, but also any hospital that receives state dollars, could not receive shipments of insulin. If you can’t accept insulin, you don’t have any to administer.
2. If KU, for instance, receives millions of dollars in a private grant to develop a cancer cure using cloned breast cancer cells, it could not perform that research, even though the money is private. Why? Because the KU research labs are funded with public monies. The salaries of the researchers are funded with public monies. In fact, many state universities across the U.S. are spending billions to avoid bills like this and are collecting private dollars to build private buildings on private land so they can use these private funds to do research benefiting the state!
Progress: HB 2255 was heard, amended to include HB 2098, and passed the Health & Human Services Committee a few weeks ago. It did not make it to debate on the House floor, so it was “blessed” and referred to the Federal & State Affairs Committee. That committee is holding another hearing on the bill on Tuesday, March 6th at 1:30 pm in Room 313-S.
Legislative Research briefer: http://www.kslegislature.org/supplemental/2008/SN2255.pdf
HB 2200 (http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2008/2200.pdf) created quite the stir in the education community because its goal was to circumvent the authority of local school boards to determine materials that are appropriate for instruction. This originated from the inability of a small group of citizens in the Blue Valley School District (many of whom did not even have children in the district) to have certain books banned from English curriculum. Because they were not able to get these books banned, they wanted to have them declared obscene by the legislature so that district attorneys could basically arrest teachers for teaching them!
Obviously, teachers and parents were very concerned about the legislature usurping local control. The bill was referred back to committee for further consideration.
• Johnson County delegation luncheon sponsored by Kansas Farm Bureau
• KS Association of Insurance Agents dinner with constituent Paul Tozier
Last Week’s Question: Name the Kansas born celebrity who graces a commemorative stamp. When and where did she wear the dress pictured on the stamp? Why did she attend this event and where did she sit? Mention this pioneer’s last “first.”
Winner: Dean Vermeire of Lenexa won this week. He’s my neighbor and his entire family volunteers for my campaign, but I swear I didn’t give him preferential treatment! Mary just tells me who won and I pass along the good tidings. Dean wins a sheet of Hattie McDaniel stamps.
Answer: Hattie McDaniel – born in Wichita, raised in Denver. 1940 Academy Awards/Ambassador’s Coconut Grove – first African American to attend. Nominated for best supporting actress in Gone with the Wind – first African American to win an Oscar. She sat in the back row. “Last First”: Ms. McDaniel was the first African American buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
Email my session assistant, Mary Koles at firstname.lastname@example.org to answer the question. The first correct answer received to that address will win a prize, and recognition with the correct answer in next week’s Sharp Record.
Question: It’s a current event – These Johnson County musicians are “going places”. Who are they? Where are they on March 4th, and what are they doing? What is TG4? Where will they be in the evening on March 17?
This week’s winner will receive the band’s newest CD.
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 General Election is April 3, 2007
Johnson County Election Office, 2101 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe
Advance Voting starts March 27th:
* March 27 - March 30
Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
* March 31
Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
* April 2
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/ha0302.pdf
Senate Agenda: http://www.kslegislature.org/agstat/2007/sa0302.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