March 25, 2005
It is that time of the session where all the bills that came over from the Senate have been through their committees and are now ready for the House floor. This means we no longer meet in committees, but only on the floor for debate and votes on bills (until 11:30 Thursday night!). Hold on for LOTS of interesting votes! Following today (Drop Dead Day), we will only consider the budget, education, and vetoed bills (when we come back for veto session in May).
Personal Activities and Education
Commerce and Labor
Corrections and Juvenile Justice
IT’S BACK !– Question of the Week
ADVANCED VOTING BEGAN ON WEDNESDAY – if you think you might forget, make sure to go vote today! The spring general election is Tuesday, April 5th. View a sample ballot, find your voting location and early voting locations on the Johnson County Election Office website. Say howdy to constituent (and new Election Commissioner) Brian Newby – most recently one of your Shawnee City Councilmen!
Remember when I suggested you head out to SM Park? Constituent and subscriber Karen Barnhart wrote back to let you know that “the ticks were already out and about. Between the two of us we encountered 6. My husband ended up going to the doctor to get a dose of antibiotics.” Thanks Karen!
Are you over 50? Colon cancer is PREVENTABLE! March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – have you had your screening colonoscopy yet? It’s VERY easy and painless, trust me – thanks to some really good drugs, you won’t even know what’s going on! For more information, check out the American Cancer Society’s info on colon cancer and the National Colon Cancer Research Alliance (Katie Couric’s group).
The legislature added an amendment onto a bill that would prevent anyone from removing feeding or hydrating devices, if the person does not have advanced directive. I would STRONGLY urge you to complete one of these today, and avoid the pain and suffering that many families have to go through. There are many “Living Will” websites, but this one was the one I found was the easiest and most straightforward.
Personal Activities and Education
HB 2284 - the breastfeeding bill was progressing well, until it got to the Senate floor. Something happened! I’m still trying to track down what the hang-up was, but the bill was ripped from the calendar and put back in committee. Not a good sign since there are no more committee meetings. There is a lot of precedent for legislative intent now, however, so look for the bill to come back either next year again or this year in a conference committee report. See today’s article in the Kansas City Star.
SB 139 - this is the bill I carried on the floor and debated. This idea was thanks to constituents Jerry Magliano and Don Norwood, both of Colony Woods. Senator Jordan introduced the bill and it flew through the Senate on a 36-3 vote. However, the House seems to be much more shortsighted on this one. The debate went very well, but concerns were voiced that this is a “Johnson County bill”, which is quite comical because of the way students are chosen (5 from each Congressional district and 20 at-large). The bill tanked on a 53-63 vote yesterday. Keep the faith though – as you have read in my newsletter before, no bill ever truly dies!
As I mentioned previously, the bill would have created a residential public academy for exceptional students in math and science. Forty students would be admitted every year. This would have cost the state just $95,000 the first year, and $180,000 every year afterward. Fourteen other states have this, and with our growth in the bioscience area, it’s a natural fit and progression. I’ll keep working on it!
HB 2503 - would extend regulations for only those outpatient surgical clinics that perform abortions. My chief concern with this bill is that in my research with the revisor’s office (the folks that write the bills around here), no doctors, nurses, or health professionals whatsoever were involved in the drafting of this legislation. In fact, the Kansas Medical Society, the Kansas State Nurses Association, and the Kansas Hospital Association, the logical allies of legislation like this, refused to testify in support of this bill.
Final Action 87-36. I voted NO. My explanation of vote as recorded in the House Journal is provided below:
“I vote NO on HB 2503. As state legislators, we are elected to uphold our state and federal laws. We are not physicians. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists establish meticulous standards for their field. In 2002, guidelines for office-based surgery and special procedures were adopted by the KMS and the Board of Healing Arts. These guidelines, written by physicians, apply to all surgical clinics. If the guidelines are not working because they are not monitored properly, then we must address the oversight and management and apply the law where surgical procedures may harm our citizens.”
SB 27 - “the Meth bill”. This is such great legislation and I am excited that it passed. Hopefully we can achieve results similar to Oklahoma’s reduction in meth use and labs busted.
Final Action 122-0-2. I voted YES. Two abstentions were by pharmacists who must abstain because of conflict of interest concerns – when a bill impacts your bottom line, you should abstain.
SB 181- really caused a stir in the education community. The bill sets up a three-judge panel to review lawsuits by students against the state for funding issues. Amendments were added in committee that caused a great deal of heartburn over this. However, a compromise was made for when the bill goes to conference committee. All parties that were upset are now happy (school boards, teachers, and parent groups). I planned to vote against this to support my constituents, but the compromise made everyone happy, so I could support!
Final Action 69-54. I voted YES.
SB 74 - allows Regents institutions to transfer their classified employees to an unclassified system, upon an affirmative vote of those classified employees. KU conducted a very successful pilot project and this bill allows other Regents universities to follow suit.
Final Action 78-45. I voted YES.
SB 75 - The “McDonalds Bill” would prevent you from suing someone who sells food. If you eat too much food, you can’t blame it on someone else. Otherwise, the Russell Stovers folks would be in a world of hurt! J
Final Action 102-21. I voted YES.
SB 138 – teacher employer tax credit. Schools are having a hard time keeping math and science teachers because the private sector can offer much better wages and benefits. This bill gives tax credits to businesses that hire math and science teachers while school is not in session.
Final Action 103-19. I voted YES.
SB 154 – nutrition guidelines for schools. Have you eaten a school lunch with your kids lately? This bill asks the State Board of Education to establish nutrition standards for food served at our schools.
Final Action 118-5. I voted YES.
SB 215 – if you are a commercial real estate agent, you sell the property per the contract, and then the owner tries to negotiate down the contracted commission over threat of refusing the purchase, you can put a lien on the property.
Final Action 96-28. I voted YES.
SB 72 - this bill expands the provisions of SB 123 to include existing inmates. SB 123 allows nonviolent drug criminals to be sent to treatment instead of jail time. I supported 123 as a way to prevent crime and prevent recidivism (people who get out of jail only to get sent back for another crime). However, after speaking with District Attorney (and constituent) Paul Morrison, I have serious concerns about the unintended consequences of making SB 123 retroactive. Additionally, the District Attorneys’ Association also opposes the bill.
Final Action 80-44. I voted NO.
Where’s Waldo (Rep. Sharp)? March 21-25, 2005
(Besides session and committee meetings 9am – 5 pm)
- I had pages! Jordan Dillon, Celeste Banks, Daniel Bower, David Blank, and Andrew Shaw
- I gave a briefing to fellow legislators about my e-newsletter, website, and other tools to improve constituent communications.
- House bipartisan “mixer” – what a great way for everyone to remember that regardless of party, we are still colleagues and need to work together for the betterment of the state.
- Higher Education Caucus meeting
- Johnson County delegation sponsored by the Greater Kansas City
Home Builders Association
- Addendum: Last week’s sponsor was SBC, and DeSoto was invited to present as guests.
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:
IT’S BACK! Question of the Week
After much delay, I am starting this portion of the newsletter again. I’ve been stocking up on some great prizes, so I’ll have to have some cool contests to give those away! Also – if you have a trivia question about politics, Kansas, etc., and I use it on the Sharp Record, I’ll send you a prize too!
NEW QUESTION: A Kansan became the first woman elected Mayor in the United States. She was nominated by a group of men as a joke. What was her name, and what year was she elected?
Please do not hesitate to reply to this newsletter if you have questions, concerns, or comments about these issues or others of importance to you. I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve you!
17th District, KS House
Serving Lenexa and Shawnee