March 21, 2003
March 21, 2003
1. Floor Activity
Some have complained that we are not doing anything substantive on the
House floor these days... I see that as a good thing - not many new laws
means there is not a lot of new government! Many of the bills passed this
year are tweaking statutes that need cleaning up, closing loopholes, etc.
Since there is no money, legislators are refraining from introducing bills
that cost anything. That is good for government.
Unfortunately, the conference committee report on SB 175 passed 70-55,
changing the date of the revenue consensus estimate from April 4 to April
22, 2003. I voted against this change because we need to know sooner,
rather than later, what revenues are shaping up to be. An amendment that
was stripped out in conference committee would have added the April 4 peek
at revenues in addition to the April 22 estimate. That way we will have an
idea of what to expect before we end the regular legislative session (April
12 was the original ending date, and we would come back April 30 for the
veto session. Tentatively, the ending date has been moved up to April 4, to
allow the legislature to add seven days to the veto session). It would be
more responsible to have some idea of the numbers BEFORE we leave the
regular session, rather than waiting for them during the break. (I'm
stepping off my soapbox now!)
Other floor action this week will help school districts. Senate Bill 4
added an exception to the Cash Basis Law for school districts. Basically,
districts, like the rest of us, get in trouble with our auditors if payments
are not made on time. When the state does not make its payments to schools,
the schools cannot afford to pay bills, and they are late. Even though the
late payment was beyond the districts' control, it is part of the permanent
record that they made late payments. SB 4 gives districts an exception to
the Cash Basis Law in the event general state aid payments are late, those
districts cited will be deemed not to have violated that law.
What a week! I hope I did not seem indifferent about the Physical Therapy
licensure bill in my newsletter next week, if so, I apologize! This bill
has been extremely controversial because no one wants to lose business or
have anyone else tread on "their property," per se. Most of you know that
occupational therapists, chiropractors, and physical therapists do many of
the same treatments, but for different purposes. There is a lot of overlap.
We are hearing more testimony on this bill on Monday, so stay tuned!
House Bill 2267 will help businesses by removing the requirement that
employers of immigrant agricultural workers pay unemployment tax. Immigrant
workers cannot collect unemployment assistance, so it doesn't make much
sense that the employers have to pay it! The bill will be considered by the
full House next week.
Recall: We passed a bill to change the recall process. The Secretary of
State's office brought the bill because of inconsistencies in statute that
confused most recall-seekers because the statute was unclear as to which
election results were to be used when determining the number of petitions
required to file a recall petition. Additionally, the bill removed
"incompetence" as one of the grounds for recall because it was nearly
impossible to define. However, misconduct was left in the statute and was
defined as: violation of the law that impacts the officer's ability to
perform the duties of the office. Senate Bill 103 will be considered by the
full House next week.
Senate Bill 66 would have enabled real estate companies to sell title
insurance. Unfortunately, the bill suffered some procedural pitfalls in
committee and it was tabled until next session.
Substitute for Senate Bill 144 gives the Insurance Commissioner regulatory
authority over insurance scoring, which is currently unregulated in Kansas.
Opponents of the bill claim that scoring is disproportionately hard on
minorities and the poor. A proposed amendment to the bill would require the
Commissioner's office to conduct a study after one year to determine the
fairness of scoring, and how regulation has affected consumers in Kansas.
Beyond SB 4 on the cash-basis law, it is pretty much the status quo around
here with education issues. There has been no movement on Senate Bill 22,
that allows school districts to use Capital Outlay funds to help defray the
costs of increased property, casualty, and health insurance, software
upgrades, etc. We did pass a bill out of the full House this week that will
provide additional resources to schools to teach financial literacy classes
(i.e. saving, stocks, bonds, investing). Senate Bill 74 passed the House
109-5 and is headed for a conference committee since the Senate and House
versions of the bill are different. Ahhhh, Freshman Frustration!
New security procedures at the Capitol: Many of you (myself included) will
think "It's about time!" Please be advised that when visiting the Capitol,
allow yourself extra time. Each guest must now sign in at the East doors,
which are the only way in for guests. Additionally, backpacks and bundles
may be inspected at random.
We passed two resolutions this week: 1) honoring the Kansas men and women
serving in America's armed forces, and 2) specifically the Korean War
veterans. As the War on Iraq gears up, there is a palpable tension at the
Capitol. We are keeping the servicemen and women, and indeed the safety of
our nation, in our prayers.
NEW TO THE SHARP RECORD!!!
5. Question of the Week
This question is derived from your responses to my legislative
Though I have not decided what the prize will be, here is the Question:
What is the pay (before taxes) for a State Representative in the
The first correct email response will be the winner! The
winner will be
announced in the next edition of The Sharp Record. Make sure to include
your name, phone number and street address in your response.
Thank you for the opportunity to correspond with you. Please
hesitate to contact me about these or any other issues of importance to you.
17th District, KS House
Serving Lenexa and Shawnee