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Legislative update

House bills await Governor’s action

Rep., District 70

We’re still on break from the session, and we are awaiting the Governor’s approval or veto of bills passed so far by the Legislature. We reconvene April 27 for the veto session.

In my Feb. 2 column and again two weeks ago, you read about the ROZ legislation that creates rural opportunity zones for many counties with decreasing population, and Marion County is one of the designated counties. If you want to read the bill, the ROZ bill is SB 198. Well, this week’s news is again great: Governor Brownback traveled to four Kansas locations Monday for ceremonies announcing his signing of the bill into law. This is great news for Marion County! The bill creates a five-year Kansas income tax exclusion (no state income tax) for out-of-state folks who move to a ROZ county to live. The bill also gives counties the opportunity in certain instances to forgive student loan debt up to $15,000 for those folks moving in; the program must be adopted by the county commission, and the debt forgiveness is shared 50-50 with the state.

As to other matters adopted by the 2011 legislature and sent to the Governor:

We redefined “controlled substances” in Kansas to make our law more responsive in dealing with dangerous drug manufacturing and sales in Kansas. Our communities are being assaulted with people re-formulating chemical compounds that are nearly the same as currently outlawed drugs, such as methamphetamine, but since the chemical is slightly different it is not illegal even though often as harmful — or more harmful — than the drug it “mimics.”

The problem is made worse because the new compound isn’t illegal, and people, often youth who are gullible or who don’t think on their feet by asking “what’s wrong with this picture,” think that since it’s not illegal it must not be harmful, so I’ll try it. That’s not the case; if meth is devastating, so is its first cousin — the new similar compound.

The Johnson County drug task force took the lead in addressing the issue, and because of their innovative approach, Kansas has now addressed the issue in a much more effective way. Although our approach is new, other states are already following our lead and drafting new legislation patterned after us, addressing how we define controlled substances. When the solution was proposed to us, members of the committee wondered that age-old question: Why didn’t someone think of this before?

We modified current laws on late-term and partial-birth abortions; changed the requirement of parental notification to a law requiring parental consent; the new law expands the duties to report an abortion. We also now will require the reporting of sexual abuse. We also adopted a new section dealing with fetal pain, and it sets restrictions and requirements regarding abortions when the unborn child is capable of feeling pain. To read the bills in their entirety, please refer to HB 2035 and HB 2218.

In HB 2192, we addressed the problem for motorcyclists who come to a stoplight but their mode of transportation is so light that it does not trigger a change in the traffic signal. It creates permission in very specific instances where the cyclist can proceed, if safe, even though the light is and has been red. It also contained the provision to increase the speed limit up to 75 mph on four-lane highways. I wrote about this earlier, and now it appears it will become law.

Also in that bill, there is one more provision: we soon won’t have to sign our vehicle registrations annually to verify our insurance. By applying for the new tag, we will be representing that we still have insurance. The signature is dropped for electronic filing purposes, but the representation is still there; and it’s still a crime if you drive your car without maintaining insurance on it.

While on break, contact me at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at 201 Meadow Lane, Marion KS 66861; or call (620) 382-2133.

Last modified April 14, 2011

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