Kansas Legislative Update

Mar 3, 2014

Credit khi.org

Here is where some key issues stand at the midpoint of the legislative session according to a recent article in the Wichita Eagle.

  • All Day Kindergarten  The plan was proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback.  It’s to be universal across the state in the next five years.  It is currently being looked at by a special committee in the House.  
  • Fitness Competition  Two bills are under review addressing the issue of private health clubs paying taxes and nonprofit YMCAs which do not.  
  • Guns  A comprehensive gun bill would bar municipal governments from enacting or enforcing gun restrictions, expanding gun owners’ rights, and prohibiting the carrying of a loaded firearm while intoxicated is expected to be take up by the House soon.
  • Juvenile Corrections  A bill to provide a long-term solution to the financially struggling Judge Riddel Boys Ranch died in committee earlier, but Rep. Jim Howell, R-Derby, got approval for an amendment to another juvenile justice bill.  It was approved by the House.  Howell’s amendment sets performance standards for juvenile facilities and mandates a cost study for effective programs.  The bill now goes to the Senate.
  • Local Elections  Republicans want to move all municipal elections to the fall.  The city of Wichita opposes this measure.  The bill is still alive that would push local elections to the fall, either in odd or even numbered years.
  • Marijuana  Bills to legalize medical marijuana have been unable to get hearings.
  • Medicaid  Medicaid expansion has failed to get a hearing.
  • Mortgage Fees  A bill to gradually eliminate mortgage registration fees was approved by the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee.
  • Open Records  Both chambers passed bills intended to given Kansans more access to open records.
  • Religious Freedom  House Bill 2453 was stopped by Senate leaders.  The issue of religious freedom will continue to be debated in Topeka.  The Senate judiciary Committee is planning a hearing to explore the existing laws soon.
  • State Fossils  The House approved a bill to make the pteranodon and the tylosaurus the official state fossils of Kansas.  It now goes to the Senate.
  • Wichita State University  President John Bardo is pushing hard to get legislators to support WSU’s plan to create “an innovation campus.”