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Our Voice in Topeka

Representative, District 70

Last week, we worked all day March 29 and 30, and we wound things up about 1 a.m. We finished the bulk of the bills in front of us March 31 — all except the budget bill. We didn’t even take it up. Recognizing that neither the Senate or the House had crafted a budget that could pass muster in either house and knowing that we would soon receive the April Consensus Revenue Estimate (a benchmark prediction of how we will end the fiscal year, determined by weighing and reconciling income and expense factors), we adjourned two days early. The leaders of both houses thought the money could be better saved for use in the veto session, if we end up needing them.

A few of the highlights I haven’t mentioned in a column yet (not all signed yet by the Governor) are as follows.

House Concurrent Resolutions 5012 and 5013 related to the Missouri River Basin, including the Cottonwood River and others. The goal is to review flood control and water usage issues and to extend the lives of the various reservoirs, including Marion Reservoir and El Dorado Lake.

We have delayed the huge increase in unemployment taxes for business owners and only part of the predicted increase will be implemented. Employers will also have 90 days past the due date to make required contributions without having to pay interest; and that delay is good for the first three quarters of the year. This is designed to ease the severity of the increase in this shaky economy.

Since the legislature consistently completes its budget after May 1, we have now delayed the date when school boards must notify teachers of their intent to re-hire them. In the past, boards had to tell teachers one way or the other by May 1, but when the state would later finalize its budget, the boards would have to turn around and tell terminated teachers “never mind.” Often, continuation of a school’s program depends on the state’s funding, and this made for tenuous relations.

In a compromise worked out by the House and Senate in cooperation with representatives of school boards, administrators and teachers, school boards may now wait until the third Friday of May to finalize their budgets and inform teachers of their status; and teachers then have 14 days to notify school boards whether they will return to teach in the fall.

The insurance identification cards we put in our cars must now have the make and year of the vehicle being insured. Many companies do that anyway, but now it is required.

“Synthetic marijuana” is now listed as a controlled substance, and has the same controls as marijuana. One of the compounds now outlawed is commonly referred to as “K2.”

Court fees are going up. Don’t go to court and you won’t pay a higher fee.

Again, I appreciate all the ideas and comments you have given me. I have passed many of them along to the appropriate department, hoping to cause an immediate change in procedures.

During break, please contact me by e-mail at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at 201 Meadow Lane, Marion KS 66861, or call me at (620) 382-2133.

Last modified April 7, 2010

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