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Our Voice in Topeka

Representative, District 70

I thought you might be interested in more bills we’ve passed through in March, some of which have yet to be signed by the Governor. I have previously mentioned several bills, and next week you may get a dose of a few more, but there are a lot more I’m not likely to mention, so if you have an interest in an area and don’t see it in this column, let me know.

We passed Concurrent Resolution SCR 1615, reminding Congress it has its powers because the states granted powers to Congress, and not the other way around; therefore Congress shouldn’t pass laws that violate the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and it shouldn’t require states to pass legislation or lose federal funding. Those are called “unfunded mandates” and no one really likes them.

The only problem many of you will have with this resolution is that the state legislature is quite willing to enact its own unfunded mandates and pass them down to our counties, cities, school districts, and other local governments, forcing us to raise taxes locally. There is a fundamental difference of constitutional structure between the federal/state relation and the state/local government relation, but as an issue of fairness, unfunded mandates are often a poor way to run governments. They are part of the reason so many folks are frustrated with our various governmental units.

We tackled mistreatment of a dependent adult with Senate Bill 67. While we have had laws addressing the mistreatment, SB 67 strengthens the penalties. Kansas is seeing more children willing to steal from their elderly parents, as well as more theft by those who manage assets for the elderly. This bill also clarifies what is prohibited, and it should make investigation and prosecution more effective. SB 67 also amends our identity theft and identity fraud laws and clarifies them.

Kansas laws on abortion were modified in Senate substitute for HB 2115. Some of the changes include a doctor who performs late-term abortions in Kansas will now need to more specifically state why the abortion was necessary. The Board of Healing Arts will be required to revoke a physician’s license to practice if convicted of a crime under Kansas’ abortion laws, unless two-thirds of the Board determines the doctor will not pose a threat to the public.

The definition of a viable fetus will now include the reasonable probability the life of the child can be continued indefinitely outside the mother’s womb. A doctor who refers a patient to a doctor who would perform a late-term abortion will now be required to be a doctor licensed in Kansas. There are provisions in the bill for suing a doctor who illegally performs a late-term abortion. Currently no doctors in Kansas perform them.

Senate substitute for HB 2160 takes on two matters — if a health insurance policy already covers anti-cancer medication administered through IV or IM injection, then the policy must also cover giving anti-cancer medication in oral (pill or liquid) form.

The bill also establishes a pilot project for covering autism spectrum disorders through the state’s health insurance plan, to see whether such a plan will likely work statewide, or whether policy premiums are likely to substantially increase.

During the 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 15, 2010

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