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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Connie's Corner

  • We've just completed the third week of the 2013 legislative session and approximately two hundred bills have been introduced in the House.
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  • We've just completed the third week of the 2013 legislative session and approximately two hundred bills have been introduced in the House.Most of these bills are still being worked in committee. On Thursday, January 31st the first piece of legislation, HB 2023, was passed in the House. This bill referred to as the Paycheck Protection Act prohibits the state from facilitating Political Action Committee payroll deductions for public sector employees. The intent of the bill is to eliminate state and local governments involvement as bookkeepers for political activities of public sector union members. This bill does not prohibit public sector union members from donating to their union's PAC. Union members who choose to contribute to their union PAC can set up an automatic electronic transfer from their bank account to their PAC fund. The House passed HB 2023 by a vote of 68 to 56. On Thursday, January 31st I was attending a funeral for my uncle and consequentially I was the only person absent for this vote. There are several important issues waiting to be debated on the House floor. Issues that have attracted a lot of attention are Judicial Selection, Second Amendment Rights, Taxation and the Budget. Judicial Selection: There have been several Judicial Selection options introduced in the House that address the nature of the judicial nominating commission. One options to amend the commission include changing the nature of who makes the appointments to the nominating commission. Another options calls for the complete elimination of the nominating commission. This week the Senate passed a bill with the necessary 2/3 majority vote mirroring the federal judicial selection model where the Governor makes the nomination and the Senate confirms the nominee. Another option would allow Kansans to vote for judges. This is the way Kansans initially selected their Supreme Court justices. Any of these options would require a constitutional amendment which takes a 2/3 majority vote in both the House and Senate and would then go to Kansas voters for confirmation. Second Amendment: There is legislation sponsored by Representative John Rubin and co-sponsored by 49 other Representatives, including myself, which is designed to strengthen Second Amendment protection for Kansas citizens. This bill asserts that the Tenth Amendment to our U.S. Constitution guarantees to the states and their citizens all powers not granted to the federal government and reserves the right of the State of Kansas to protect it's citizens from federal infringement of our Second Amendment rights. This bill also declares that firearms, accessories, parts or ammunition that are owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Kansas and remains within the borders of Kansas is not subject to any federal firearm or ammunition law, treaty, regulation, federal executive action or registration program. It declares that any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the federal government which violates the Second Amendment is null, void and unenforceable in the State of Kansas. This bill would make it a felony for any federal government official to enforce or attempt to enforce any federal act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation. The bill also prohibits inquiry by any physician, other than a psychiatrist, as to ownership or possession of firearms. In addition to this comprehensive piece of legislation Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson proposed two bills designed to strengthen penalties for the theft of firearms. Currently the theft of a firearm in Kansas is classified as misdemeanors. Todd would like to see firearm thefts prosecuted as felonies.
    Page 2 of 3 - Taxes & Budget: Kansas legislators are committed to lowering taxes and meeting the requirement to balance the budget with the mandated 7.5% ending balance. As Kansas continues the march towards no state income tax here's a few things to keep in mind. In 2011, when Brownback became Governor and Ron Estes took office as Kansas Treasurer, Kansas had $863. in the bank. Eight hundred and sixty three dollars and a spending deficit of 500 million. In 2011 House legislators adopted Pay Go and supported several of the governor's pro-job, pro-business initiatives. That helped Kansas to turn a 500 million dollar deficit into a 500 million dollar ending balance by the end of the 2012 legislative session. In 2012 we also passed the largest tax cut in Kansas history and that has some folks concerned. Some concerned citizens are asking; How will Kansas make up for the revenue returned to citizens in the form of tax cuts? In 2010 Kansas was dead last in private sector job creation. Today we are 13th Nationally. In 2010 Kansas unemployment was 7%. Today we're at 5.7%. In just the last two years there has been 1,500 new businesses started in Kansas. Last year Kansas broke all previous records by creating 16,000 new private sector jobs. Seventy five percent of all the jobs in Kansas are provided by small business owners. These small business owners have renewed confidence in the direction our state is taking. Kansas has begun the transformation from being a high tax and spend state to a low tax, business friendly, state with spending under control. We are already seeing the positive results from lowering income tax rates for Kansas citizens and small businesses. Simply stated, the increase in economic activities in Kansas coupled with the increase in private sector employment is creating new wealth in Kansas. Increases in economic activity results in increases in sales tax revenue for the state. The governor and many legislators would like to continue the march to no state income tax. The big question is; Will legislators have the resolve to continue the march ? Eliminating state income tax can help us create a vibrant economy, the kind of economy that will enable us to have the revenue we need to support essential government programs. We know this because we can look at other states, test grounds if you will, where the elimination of income tax has proven successful. High taxes can become burdensome and onerous and income taxes are particularly counter productive. Eliminating state income taxes will allow Kansas taxpayers and small businesses owners to keep more of their hard earned cash. Cash they can use in areas they consider essential to themselves, their families and their businesses. Lansing Town Hall; I would like to encourage folks to attend the Town Hall at the Lansing Community Center on February 4th at 6:30pm. The center is located at 800 1st Terrace, Lansing, KS 66043. The Town Hall always begins with good food, good conversation and an opportunity to chat with local legislators. February's guest speakers include Kansas Securities Commissioner Aaron Jack. Aaron will be talking about the Kansas (EFA) Economic Freedom Amendment. This amendment would protect Kansans private property rights by prohibiting the federal government from taking over Kansas businesses through nationalization. Also; Professor Steven Ware will inform us about the Kansas Judicial Selection process and the ongoing efforts to amend that process.-------------------------You can view the schedule for daily House sessions by going to; www.kslegislature.org The votes for that day are listed under the heading, "Final Action and Concurrent Resolutions." House legislative sessions normally convene at 11:am. The Last day for bill drafts is February 4th. Last day for introductions by members is February 13th. Last day for introductions in exempt committees is February 15th. Turnaround day is March 1st. I'm in room 187 N. Stop in and visit. You can reach me at 785-296-7683 or e-mail connie.obrien@house.ks.gov. Things are getting fast and furious. Keep us in your prayers. Connie  My Committee Assignments and Schedule Elections - Monday & Wednesday 1:30pm - Room 281 NAg and Natural Resources - Monday thru Friday 3:30pm - Room 346 SChildren and Seniors - Tuesday & Thursday 9:am - Room 218 NLocal Government - Tuesday & Thursday 1:30pm - Room 281 N
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