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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Legislative Update - Week Nine

  • Committees were busy this week kicking out bills to be considered by the House.
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  • Legislative Update - Week Nine
    March 15, 2013
    Committees were busy this week kicking out bills to be considered by the House. The House Appropriations
    Committee passed a budget and the House Taxation Committee passed an income tax reform plan. The
    Appropriations Committee has spent months going line-by-line through the budget and finding necessary
    savings to offset the tax bill from last session. At the same time, the Taxation Committee has been busy looking
    for a way to continue to buy down income tax rates while not having to take large hits to the ending balance in
    the next few years. These bills will be worked on the House floor in the weeks to come as we finalize our work
    before first adjournment.
    Kansas Exports Increase
    The Kansas Department of Commerce announced this week that the Kansas economy shows robust growth in
    exports with a $1.75 billion increase since 2010. Exports from Kansas for 2012 were $11.66 billion. Some of
    the most encouraging news came in exports to foreign countries. Exports to China have increased 70% since
    2011, the largest increase of any foreign country Kansas exports to. Canada continues to be Kansas' largest
    trading partner accounting for 23.3% of Kansas exports. Mexico, Canada, and China make up about half of all
    Kansas exports. Industries with the largest increase in exports were grain, seeds, and fruits with a 257% increase
    and mineral fuel at 102% increase. In the five-state region, the average of exports in dollars was 9.2 billion,
    placing Kansas squarely ahead of the region's average.
    Personal and Family Protection Act
    Wednesday, the House debated an addition to the Personal and Family Protection Act also known as the
    Concealed Carry Act. The addendum added to the Act ensures Kansans have the right to protect themselves in
    public places where adequate security is not provided. Public places which have adequate security would not be
    required to allow concealed carry; however, if a public building is not able to guarantee the safety and security
    of the public, then individuals would have the right to protect themselves by carrying a concealed weapon.
    An example is if a city hall decided they don't want to have guns in their building they must be able to
    guarantee there are not guns. Placing a sign saying guns aren't allowed is not a deterrent and does not provide
    the public with a safe environment. Opponents of this bill argue it will place a huge unfunded mandate on local
    units of government which don't want guns in their buildings. This is a fair argument except that red signs with
    Page 2 of 3 - a gun and line through it do not prevent guns from being brought into the facility. If locals want to prevent guns
    from entering their facilities they need to ensure no one has a gun.
    The other troubling aspect of the argument is how we are treating our legal citizens who have gone out of
    their way to obtain training from a licensed individual as well as a background check by the Kansas Bureau of
    Investigation. The individuals who have obtained a concealed carry license are not the same people who shoot
    up schools. We shouldn't treat gun owners as criminals, but rather as another line of community defense.
    Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm
    Thursday, the House passed HB 2052, a bill that would establish a uniform state law addressing unlawful
    discharge of a firearm within or into any city. The bill would define the unlawful discharge of a firearm as the
    reckless discharge of any firearm within or into the corporate limits of a city and would make such a violation a
    misdemeanor. Additionally, the bill would provide for circumstances in which a firearm may be discharged into
    or within a city without being considered unlawful.
    One of the circumstances for when a firearm may be discharged into or within a city without being considered
    unlawful would be in the case of lawful defense of a person or property. Cities would be prohibited from
    enacting ordinances that would penalize discharging a firearm even if done in defense of person or property.
    This bill would unify the law for all Kansans, ensuring them the ability to use a firearm lawfully to defend
    themselves or others anywhere in the state.
    Second Amendment Protection Act
    HB 2199, passed by the House on Thursday, would exclude from federal regulation any personal firearm,
    firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured commercially or privately and owned in Kansas. As long as
    any such firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition remained in Kansas, the bill would provide that it would
    not be subject to any federal law, regulation, or authority. Also, the bill would prevent any federal agent or
    contracted employee, any state employee, or any local authority from enforcing any federal regulation or law
    governing a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and owned in Kansas, provided it
    remained within the borders of Kansas.
    HB 2199 would essentially reaffirm the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right of Kansans to keep
    and bear arms. The bill would also state that because the Constitution does not grant the federal government
    authority in this area, any leeway to determine how the Second Amendment right is exercised is the prerogative
    Page 3 of 3 - of the state. Thus, any attempts by the federal government to regulate the use of firearms manufactured and
    owned in Kansas would be considered unenforceable in the state of Kansas.
    Grand Jury
    On Wednesday, the House took up HB 2182 which would amend procedures relating to grand juries. In Kansas,
    grand juries are used to vet legal issues brought by the state against an individual or group. A grand jury may
    also be empanelled by a petition of citizens who believe the government is not prosecuting a crime it should be.
    The purpose of the grand jury is to decide if a case has sufficient evidence to charge a person with a crime. If
    the grand jury decides there is sufficient evidence, the person(s) in a case are then charged with said crime. If
    not, no charges are filed and there is no case.
    This bill would make a few changes to how grand juries operate as well as the powers available to the grand
    jury. The most substantive changes deal with the rights of the petitioner. The petitioner would be given the
    opportunity to address the grand jury first before the county attorney or prosecutor addresses the grand jury.
    This would allow the petitioner an opportunity to first present their case before any bias from the government
    could affect the grand jury.
    Another change would allow a grand jury the ability to select a special council or investigator to assist in
    gathering evidence and examining the facts of cases before the jury. This would guarantee impartiality and
    ensure the grand jury is able to investigate a claim without the government interfering. This is an important
    form of government accountability by allowing citizens to examine legal issues affecting Kansans.
    Education
    The Education Committee heard serious debate all week on Common Core Standards, School Electronic
    Privacy Concerns, Monitoring of Electronic Devices and the issue of Charter Schools. The bill on Charter
    Schools was defeated in Committee, by a 9-10 vote.
    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 me at 785-296-7563 or e-mail John.Bradford@house.ks.gov. Thank
    you for the honor of serving you!
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