Scrap metal dealers will be more regulated
Rep., District 70
While waiting on a budget we can vote on, we’ve passed a bill that will regulate scrap metal dealers.
Kansas has a problem with thieves stealing copper tubing out of air conditioning units and electrical and telephone wire even when in use, as well as other items. Some thieves have even climbed on the roofs of multi-story buildings, and stripped out the tubing from air conditioning units causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to the building’s owner.
In an effort to slow down the number of thefts, we hope to empower counties and cities to register scrap metal dealers, and require them to keep records of their purchases. The bill talks of “regulated scrap metal” — those items I have mentioned above — and it steps up the monitoring of regulated scrap metal. The bill, HB 2312, would also stiffen the penalties for these thefts; we’d really like to drive those crooks out of Kansas by making it harder to hawk their stolen metal, or to put them in prison longer if caught.
We also passed SB37, which affects the Kansas Offender Registration Act. Sex offenders and violent offenders currently must report to the sheriff and verify address and activities three times per year and within 10 days of moving to a new address. To comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act, we will now require reporting four times per year and within three days of moving.
The bill also modifies the consequences of a first-time failure to report to the sheriff. It had been a level 5 felony, typically landing the offender in prison for about two years; it was moved to a level 6 which likely will shorten prison stay for the first offense, thereby keeping prison bed space more available for repeat offenders and other more serious offenders, as well as keeping us from having to open yet another prison — at state expense.
We still want offenders to report, but between shortening the time to report and considering the requirement of quarterly reports, we believed the modified punishment more accurately fits the crime.
After proposing to cut state employee pay and increasing state employees’ share of the health insurance premiums, the House Appropriations Committee brought House Bill 2392 to the full House for our consideration, which would eliminate the longevity pay program that pays extra to employees who are viewed by their bosses as valuable and have served the state 10 to 25 years.
It seems like punishment for hanging around here and working for us to cut them once and then take the recognition bonus away. The full House would have none of it, and the bill failed. The consensus of those voting down the bill was: We already pay state employees less than 47 other states do, and we’re already lowering their salaries. Further, in 2007, the state began increasing employee pay to a level more consistent with the Kansas labor market, but Kansas hasn’t completed that because of this recession. In that context, it just seemed too much to quit the longevity program — a rather harsh slap in the face.
When we leave other wages alone, perhaps we ought to consider the longevity program, but not now.
We hope to pass comprehensive changes to the DUI law — driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many of the “tough” measures meted out in the past don’t seem to have made much difference, so we’re trying another tack. However, until we are assured the budget negotiators from the House and Senate agree to fund the community corrections officers who would have to monitor those drivers, we simply can’t pass these changes. Those officers can’t handle about 700 more people to their caseload unless we give them the money to hire extra workers. I hope to report fully to you next week about this matter.
We also hope to pass a full budget for me to report on as well.
Contact me at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at Kansas State Capitol Building, 300 SW 10th St, Topeka KS 66612; or call (620) 382-2133. Please do not call my Topeka number. There is no one to answer the phone.