Rep., 70th District
As you know, we have yet to send any big items to Gov. Sam Brownback for signing: no budget; no tax bill impacting real estate or income tax; no reapportionment map for the House, or Senate, or Congress, and we haven’t sent him a KPERS fix. We haven’t made any changes in the school finance formula, nor have we passed a bill to fund schools (that’s part of the budget), and that leaves our school administrators and boards in a quandary on how to craft their budget or set their staffs and programs for next fall.
I don’t expect to write a column next week. Currently, I have little else to talk about, so I’ll wait until there’s something to report.
We can expect to have a tough veto session with all these big issues hanging fire; it starts April 25. Typically, it is about 10 to 15 days, but we could easily take all of May. All that’s really required of us is passing a budget and a map reapportioning Kansas’ Congressional districts. New state Senate and House maps have to be approved by the Kansas Supreme Court anyway, so if we fail to pass them, there are provisions to resolve that failure — the court constructs them as best it can from the work we’ve done so far.
Something we did pass is HB 2477: when students who are 16 or 17 withdraw from school, an alternative learning plan will be designed to help the student and the student’s parents know what resources and choices are available for the student to complete high school, or obtain a GED, or complete some other certificated program outside of the regular high school. An April PBS program spotlights Pennsylvania’s effort to recapture students who have dropped out of high school, who think they have failed and have no chance, and what Pennsylvania is trying to “rope” them back in, giving them hope. Check it out.
HB 2166, also passed, is a compromise between the League of Kansas Municipalities and the Kansas Press Association regarding publishing new ordinances. It will require municipalities to publish only a summary explaining the new ordinance, and the summary must also state how and where to see the entire ordinance. The bill requires the city attorney to review the summary to assure it is accurate and meets the statutory criteria. For those who actually read the published ordinances, you will still be able to find them, even if you wait a week or two; you just won’t pick up the newspaper and read it. The full ordinance will be on the city’s website for at least a week after publication, and the municipality will still have the ordinance in its office.
We are sending you a constitutional amendment to vote on (not yet OKed by the governor, though). If approved by an election, HCR 5017 would authorize the legislature to classify boats differently from other property. Currently boats are assessed as part of “all other” personal property at 30 percent of its fair market value, and many folks register them out of state (likely illegal), then bring them to Kansas for boating; this is difficult if not impossible to enforce, so the thought is: if our tax lines up with our neighbor’s, folks will register them in Kansas, and we’ll collect more tax on the whole. You decide if that’s a good idea.
We’ve passed a bunch of small bills that I doubt are of general interest, so I’m not reporting them. If you have questions about a bill you’ve heard of, contact me about it. I’d be happy to discuss what I know with you. Thanks to the folks who contacted me with your thoughts regarding care of developmentally disabled people.
You may email me at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861, or call me at (620) 382-2133. We are on break until April 25 while the governor considers bills we’ve passed, so don’t use my Topeka contact information until then. Starting April 25 you may also call me at (785) 296-7636.