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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • John Bradford at the Statehouse

  • On Friday of this week, the Legislature finished up its work, ending “turnaround” on schedule.
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  • Turn-Around Has Arrived
    On Friday of this week, the Legislature finished up its work, ending "turnaround" on schedule.
    We worked through more than 70 bills this week with several important pieces of legislation passed. Our next deadline will be March 22, when all non-exempt bills must again be passed out
    of committee.
    We take off on Monday and Tuesday as support staff work through and process the bills passed this week. There are several staff agencies outside of the House working and voting on the
    bills. The Revisors must process the amendments that we made to the bills, the clerks have to document the records, and research staff updates the explainers of bills that were amended.
    Starting March 6, the House will work Senate bills in committee, and the Senate will work House bills in committee. I have summarized a few of the many topics we have worked on this week.
    Regulatory Certainty for IP-Enabled Devices
    This week, the House passed HB 2326, which would protect Internet Protocol (IP)-based services from regulation by the Kansas Corporations Commission (KCC). IP is the broadband
    technology of the future that is already being deployed to meet consumer demand for popular applications that connect them in their daily lives, including e-mail, Netflix, and Skype. This
    legislation would protect Kansas companies investing in IP-based services from unnecessary regulation by state agencies and ensure that policy regarding these services is set by the
    legislature.
    In the 1980's, the Kansas Legislature passed laws protecting wireless communications from state regulation. As a result of being protected from KCC regulation, the wireless industry in Kansas
    continues to flourish. Currently, IP-based services are rapidly growing and investment dollars are pouring into these technologies. As it has done for the wireless companies, this protection would
    ensure the regulatory certainty these companies investing in IP technologies need to continue to invest and grow in Kansas. HB 2326 is now headed to the Senate for further consideration and
    action.
    Equal Access for Professional Employees' Organizations
    HB 2221, referred to as the Equal Access Act, would modify the Professional Negotiations Act. The bill would require all local School Boards of Education to give equal access for all
    professional employees' physical or electronic mailboxes and to allow equal access for all professional employees' associations to attend new teacher or employee school orientations and
    other meetings. Local school boards would also not be allowed to designate any day or breaks in a school year by naming or referring to the name of any professional employees' association.
    Additionally, current law would be amended by the bill to expand the definition of "professional employees' organizations" to include those existing for the purpose of professional development
    Page 2 of 3 - or liability protection.
    HB 2221 would serve to ensure that all organizations that offer services for teachers are afforded equal access to the teachers in Kansas. A school board would not be able to give exclusive access
    to its teachers to one organization or another. This will better provide that teachers are aware of all the resources available to them, particularly with regards to professional development and
    liability protection. This bill has been forwarded to the Senate.
    KanCare Oversight Committee
    Friday, the House passed HB 2025 that establishes the Robert G. (Bob) Bethell Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight. The committee would be
    made up of eleven members of the legislature and would be required to meet at least three times when the legislature is in session and at least once during each of the second, third, and fourth
    calendar quarters. This committee would provide oversight of the administration of KanCare by those accountable to the people, elected members of the legislature.
    According to HB 2025, state agencies would be required to provide to the committee data and information on KanCare programs, including pay for performance measures, quality measures and enrollment and disenrollment in specific plans, KanCare provider network date, and appeals and grievances made to the KanCare ombudsman. The committee would then be required to submit its own report to President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, the House Committee on Health and Human Services, and the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare. It would also be able to introduce legislation as deemed necessary in performing its functions. The Senate will now consider House HB 2025
    Judicial Selection
    On Thursday, the House worked HB 2019 which reforms the judicial selection process of the Kansas Appeals Court. The current way appeals court judges are appointed is by a commission
    of 9 board members. This commission is made up of 4 non-attorneys appointed by the Governor, 4 members elected from each congressional district by attorneys admitted to the Kansas Bar,
    and a chairman elected at large by attorneys who are members of the Kansas Bar. Qualified electors for the nomination commission are the 10,000 attorneys across the state, however, only about 3,000 actually vote. This means the current selection process consists of a small, unelected minority selecting judges for 2.8 million Kansans.
    The commission accepts nominations of attorneys, interviews them, and selects 3 to submit to the Governor for his selection. If he chooses not to accept them, he may ask for the commission
    to submit a new set of names. This process has been criticized by many as not being democratic or representative of the state because the majority of the members who select the judges are the
    attorneys who appear before the judges. This creates a conflict of interest between those who select the judges and those who appear before them.
    Page 3 of 3 - A positive step was made this week when the House passed HB 2019, proposing to eliminate the commission and instead replace it with a federal model of judicial selection. This model would include an appointment of judges by the Governor and confirmation of those judges by a vote of the Senate. The House passed the measure to ensure democratically elected Kansans are selecting our judges and not an unelected minority. The bill is now headed to the Senate.
    Licensing for Military Personnel
    On Monday the House passed HB 2078 to allow for military service members to apply for licenses with the Board of Nursing and Board of Healing Arts. Currently there are certain civilian educational requirements to obtain a license. This bill would allow military personnel to use training received in the military to serve as the educational requirements needed for state licensing for medical professionals. This bill would not require state regulatory agencies
    to issue licenses. Instead, it would allow the military education to be substituted for civilian training and the board would have final decision as to whether an individual meets the necessary
    requirements for a healthcare related license. The bill is now in the Senate for action.
    I encourage you to let me know your thoughts on the issues discussed by the legislature and others which might be affecting you. Please feel free to call 785-296-7653 or e-mail
    John.Bradford@house.ks.gov and I'd be happy to discuss any topic you are interested in. Please stop by my office (166-W) any time you are in the area. Thank you for the honor of serving.

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