Legislative update: Week 14
The 2011 veto session continues to progress at a snail’s pace. As week two comes to a close, legislators continue to meet in their respective conference committees. These committees must find compromises on a number of important issues before the session can adjourn.
With 84 days of the 90 day session already used, legislators are very aware that time is limited. If we are not able to finish our work this weekend, legislators may choose to forfeit some of their pay to extend the session into next week. I will do my best to keep you up-to-date as these scheduling decisions are made.
All House and Senate sessions are open to the public. And live broadcasts of Senate and House proceedings can be found at www.kslegislature.org. To hear legislative proceedings, just click on the “Listen in Live” link.
I am honored to serve as your Senator. My office is located in room 124-E. Please feel free to visit or to contact me at 785-296-7357, if you should have any questions. Due to state budget cuts our office staff has been sent home for the rest of the legislative session, so you will need to leave a message and I will check the answering machine as my schedule allows.
• The 7th Annual Lansing DAZE festival will be this weekend in Lansing. Festivities will include games, rides, and fireworks. For more information, contact the Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau at 913-727-5488.
• Congratulations to the 127 Leavenworth High School students who were recognized Monday night at the Academic Banquet. Honorees represented the top 2.5 percent of freshman, the top 5 percent of sophomores, the top 10 percent of juniors and top 15 percent of seniors.
• Sporting KC and Cerner Office Complex in KCK a Top 10 Economic Development Project in North America. Site Selection Magazine has name the $400 million Sporting Kansas City Major League Soccer Stadium and Cerner Corporation Office Complex in Village West one of the top 10 economic development deals in North America in 2010.
• The 2011 Kansas Sampler Festival will be Saturday, May 7, from 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday, May 8, from 10 am – 4 pm at Ray Miller Park, 4201 South 4th St. in Leavenworth.
CHILDREN’S INITIATIVE FUND
I’ve received a number of calls and e-mails this week from citizens concerned about a possible 17.5 percent cut to the Children’s Initiative Fund (CIF). Funding for the CIF is currently being debated by members of the budget conference committee. The Senate proposed moving $8.3 million from the State General Fund (SGF) into the CIF for early learning programs. As of Thursday, the House has refused to accept the offer.
The Children’s Initiative Fund helps prepare Kansas children for school, especially at-risk children in under-served areas. I believe it’s a vital program that should be protected.
911 SERVICE FEES
The Senate has imposed a monthly fee on landline and cell phone users to help pay for 911 services. The fee will be 53 cents per month, which replaces the previous fee of 75 cents per month on landlines and up to 50 cents a month for cell phones. Those using prepaid wireless service will be charged $1.06 per retail transaction.
I voted for this bill. Because so many Kansans now rely solely on cell phones, it’s only fair they should share in the cost of keeping our state’s emergency services updated and running.
In an effort to curb scrap metal theft, the Senate on Monday passed a mandate that will allow property destruction to be considered when fines are given to thieves. Under current law, individuals convicted of scrap metal theft can only be fined the cost of the stolen metal. HB2312 also includes new provisions that will make it more difficult for thieves to sell their stolen goods to scrap metal dealers, and require dealers to keep more detailed records.
Scrap metal theft has been a problem for many years. Stolen scrap metal – especially copper – can be resold for thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, when the metal is taken from a building or construction site, it often leaves thousands of dollars worth of damage for the owner. Creating a dealer paper trail and increasing penalties are both good steps to deter future theft.
ANNEXATION LEAVES COMMITTEE
A Senate and House Conference Committee debated a measure that would make changes to the state’s annexation and incorporation laws. As originally approved by the Senate, the bill allowed a city to incorporate if it had 250 residents or more. Current law requires a minimum of 300.
The House altered the bill, adding a number of changes to the state's current annexation statutes. The new bill would allow residents whose land is in a proposed annexation area to vote whether the annexation should be approved. If a majority of landowners voted against the annexation, it would not be allowed. It also requires that within three years of an annexation, county commissions determine if the city has provided appropriate municipal services. If a hearing is not held within the allotted time, a landowner could bring legal action against the commission.
The approved conference committee report will be sent to the full Senate for a vote sometime next week.
KANSAS BYWAYS RECEIVES GRANT
The Kansas Byways program has been awarded a $220,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The funding will provide local byway committees that may not have local funds an opportunity to develop and tell their story.
Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has awarded over $428 million in funding for more than 2,926 state, tribal and nationally designated byway projects in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. To learn more about the 10 Kansas Byways, visit the website at ksbyways.org.
RACIAL PROFILING BILL PASSES
SB 93 would prohibit a law enforcement officer from using racial or other biased-based policing, allow community advisory boards to be established, and require written policies and annual reports, data collection, and procedures for the investigation and disposition of a racial or other biased-based policing complaint. Complaints will go to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation, then if necessary, forwarded for possible action to the Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (CPOST).
State Sen. Kelly Kultala D-Kansas City, represents the 5th District, which includes parts of Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties