February 11, 2005
I have noticed that even with my engagement, my view of Valentine's Day has not changed... Do you really need a special day to tell your loved one how great they are, and send flowers? We should take that opportunity every day! But in the spirit of this holiday, I want to thank you for your support and for continuing to read the Sharp Record. I love to write it and it's even better when you like to read it!
This note comes to you on day 24 of a 90-day session. Most of you (myself included) will be pleased to know that we are now beginning work on the business of the state.
Of note: I will be holding “town hall” meetings in each precinct of my district (there are 15 of them). If you would like to host a meeting in your home, or at a local meeting room, please reply to this email and we’ll work on dates!
Personal Activities and Education
On Tuesday, Leslie Williams braved the weather to bring her daughter Hannah, and Katie and Laurie Gallagher to Topeka to be House Pages. Last week, Seema Amin and Kristen Perdue also paged. It is always fun to have students serve as pages and I hope they had fun too!
The Kansas Senate this week introduced their plan to address the Supreme Court’s opinion. The plan spans three years, with the first year paid for from existing revenues. The next two years require tax increases, which are a nice thought, but there’s no way we can make future legislatures increase taxes!
Before you read this, let me provide a jargon glossary:
BSAPP = Base State Aid Per Pupil, the amount that each school district receives per student. This amount is BEFORE any “weightings.”
Weighting = extra monies added to a school district’s budget for a variety of different students that cost more to educate – at-risk, bilingual, vocational, for example.
At-risk = funding is based on the number of free-lunch students in a district, but money must be spent on at-risk programs, even though many free-lunch students are not at-risk…
Special education excess costs = Costs over-and-above what the state provides… The Federal government has a commitment to fund 40 percent of state special education programs, but has never paid more than 13 percent of that amount. The state commits to help districts with their excess costs because of this problem.
LOB = Local Option Budget, a Johnson County “must have.” The LOB is money that is raised locally and stays locally. A school district can add an amount equal to 25 percent of their operating budget through local taxes. Ninety percent of KS school districts currently use that authority at 23 percent or above. Increasing this cap enables us to have more local control over our schools.
Vocational = many of these programs filter into community college med tech, mechanic, etc. programs.
Now, that being said, the Senate offered the following:
· BSAPP increase $125 this year ($87.2 million from existing revenues) $125 in year two; $125 in year three
· Increase at-risk weighting by $29.1 million
· Doubling bilingual weighting over two years, an increase of $11.2 million
· Fund special education excess costs to 85 percent in the first year, 88 percent in the second year, and 92 percent in the third year, for a total of $70.7 million
· LOB increase by two percent this year, two percent next year, and one percent the third year
· Eliminate weighting for vocational education (this would cost SMSD about $1.7 million, and seriously hurt students who need postsecondary schooling, but are not headed for a four-year degree)
Senate Education Committee Chair Jean Schodorf emphasized that this plan is “a starting point.” We’re relieved by that!
The most exciting thing – the House passed unanimously, the “Used Car Sales Tax” fix, which includes rebates for those that overpaid. You can read the details of SB 23 and an explainer. Since the House amended the bill, it is a different bill than passed the Senate, so it will go to a conference committee. A conference committee is comprised of members of both the House and Senate, they will work out a compromise between what each chamber passed, and then will send that compromise bill back to each chamber to be voted on again. Assuming it passes (each side passed this bill unanimously!), it will then go to the Governor. The bill will go into effect upon its publication in the Kansas Register, which will make it effective much earlier than the traditional July 1 effective date of most laws.
Commerce and Labor
Worker’s Comp, Worker’s Comp, Worker’s Comp. A slew of new bills will keep us busy:
HB 2142 attempts to change the “date of accident” for benefits. In many cases, repetitive use is hard to diagnose an exact accident date. For repetitive use, cumulative traumas, or injuries that result from a series of events, the date of accident would be determined to be the earliest of any one of the following: 1) date employee gives written notice of the injury to the employer, 2) date the condition is diagnosed in writing as work-related, or 3) the first day an authorized physician takes the employee off work due to the condition. The bill also limits attorney fees from 50 percent to 25 percent of damages won by the employee.
Corrections and Juvenile Justice
This committee will be dealing with the death penalty debate in Kansas. We received a briefing on the history of the death penalty in Kansas
HB 2061 - If aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating circumstances, person is sentenced to death; however, if the circumstances are equal, defendant is not sentenced to death.
HB 2076 establishes a registry of convicted felons using a deadly weapon. This bill is nicknamed “Miki’s Law” for a young woman who, along with her boyfriend, were killed by two men out on parole and living in the area. This registry would add to the violent offender registry that currently exists, where you can look up violent offenders in your area.
HB 2020 changes the classified employee structure at our state universities, enabling them to separate from the state’s civil service system and convert classified employees to unclassified positions. This was actually pretty interesting – university classified employees only get raises when the state says so, and guess how often that happens. So, they want to be able to move those employees to unclassified so they can set salaries at more competitive levels, especially for KU, with its proximity to KC.
Johnson County Statehouse Hotline! Call Topeka for free – 913-715-5000 and ask to speak with your Representative or Senator.
This week’s committee schedule:
Where’s Waldo (Rep. Sharp)? Jan 21 - Feb 11, 2005
(Besides session and committee meetings 9am – 5 pm)
- Parent/Teacher town hall at the Lenexa Library
- Kansas Physical Therapy Assn meeting, hello to Kim Galbreath!
- Small Business Development Centers meeting w/Kay Lampe
- Home Builders Assn of Greater Kansas City – hello to Sam Crawford!
- I spoke to med students in Family Practice at the Kansas Assn of Family Physicians Day at the Capitol
- This is just a funny – I took my Mizzou Tiger fiancé, Dan, to the MU/KU game at Allen Fieldhouse. I think our fans impressed him, although the outcome did not!
- Shannon Jones, constituent, and advocate for the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas, regarding funding for Kansans with disabilities
- I will be the guest speaker this afternoon at the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee meeting
- United Methodist Conference
- Kansas Chamber of Commerce Economic Development
- Johnson County delegation lunch sponsored by the City of Olathe, Olathe Chamber of Commerce, and Olathe School District
- City Hall Day at the Capitol – I was fortunate to eat lunch with the City Councils of both Shawnee and Lenexa!
- Kansas Federation of Republican Women
- Johnson County delegation sponsored by Spring Hill
- Kansas Dental Assn
- United Methodist Women
- Advocacy in Faith
- Kansas Electric Cooperatives reception
- City of Overland Park dinner
- Education briefing dinner sponsored by the Kansas Banker’s Assn
- Kansas Beer Wholesalers reception
- Shawnee Chamber Annual Dinner – congrats to Ron Rigdon, the new chairman!
- Kansas Day Movie Night – we heard from a panel of filmmakers with roots in Kansas.
- Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry night – Johnson County reception and dinner off-site with the Lenexa Chamber and City officials.
- Farm Bureau dinner – hello to Lois and Lyneda with Johnson County Farm Bureau!
- Kansas Health Care Assn
- Kansas Banker’s Assn reception
I truly appreciate the opportunity to represent you in Topeka. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me about these or any other issues of importance to you.
17th District, KS House
Serving Lenexa and Shawnee