The members of the Legislature returned to Topeka this week for the wrap up session.
The members of the Legislature returned to Topeka this week for the wrap up session. We are off to a slow start in regards to the budget – the only bill that the Legislature has to pass each year. The newspapers have quoted the President of the Senate saying that the Senate will not meet with the House until the House agrees to the Senate's tax plan.
This may be a long wrap-up session! I am so happy that I had four pages this week. They are a great help to the legislators, bring a smile to our faces and keep us on task.
Often this is called the Veto Session, but this year the governor has only vetoed one bill so far. SB37 was a non-controversial bill that originally passed the House 102-17 and the Senate 36-3. It would make the Kansas Home Inspectors Professional Competence and Financial Responsibility Act permanent. In 2008, this Act created a temporary fee funded board, and scheduled it to end in 2013, to give it time to see if the board would be successful. The Kansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors and the Kansas Association of Realtors spoke in favor of SB37, stating the 2008 enacted consumer protection legislation has worked well to assure that the public has access to home inspections which are objective and competent.
There were no opponents and no state funds are used. In fact, this year there was $46,000 sitting in the fund that is proposed to be swept into the State General Fund for the fiscal years 2014 and 2015. In the Governor's veto message, he stated that he saw "little evidence of large numbers of Kansas citizens being economically harmed by home inspectors." He went on to say that he believed the Home Inspectors Board simply adds unnecessary fees and regulations to law abiding citizens. So far, there has been no motion to try and override the veto.
Passed conference committee reports
The House voted on six conference committee reports this week with various subjects. They all passed and are on their way to the governor's desk for signature or veto.
1. HB2120 amends the criminal code concerning the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's (KBI) collection of DNA samples, gambling crimes, and a special sentencing rule related to firearms. The Conference Committee Report contained three bills. The original HB2120 updated statutes on the collection of DNA because DNA is now collected by swabbing inside the cheek rather than through blood samples. SB148 was added, which takes raffles conducted by non-profit organizations and government entities out of the definition of illegal betting. SB41 amends a special sentencing rule that applies when an offender carries a firearm while committing a drug crime, changing the wording from "carries" to "possesses a readily accessible" firearm.
2. HB2218 amends DUI statutes as to when law enforcement officers are required to request a drug or alcohol test and includes the contents of HB 2043, concerning aggravated battery while DUI.
3. SB20 makes updates and adjustments to the Kansas Offender Registration Act. The conference committee created the report by putting the contents of HB2209 into SB20, which was originally a bill about poverty affidavits in lieu of docket fees!
4. HB2261 creates "Celebrate Freedom Week" in public schools for kindergarten and grades one through eight, extends fund flexibility for public school districts, and amends current law related to school districts' bullying policies. This is a combination of three bills: HB2261 , HB2222, and HB2280.
5. HB2081 adds the crimes of identity theft and identity fraud to the Kansas Consumer Protection Act, allows a court to issue a temporary restraining order or temporary injunction, modifies the requirements for poverty affidavits, adds crimes to the list of crimes subject to forfeiture of property used in the crime, and modifies the amount of time required in a mortgage for redemption of property. This report was a compilation of HB2081, HB2093, HB2204 and SB18.
6. HB2015 modifies how "marital gifts" are treated in divorce proceeding, adds types of income subject to withholding for child support, including one time payments and unemployment insurance payments, and modifies procedures for collection of child support. This report was a compilation of HB2015, HB2259 and SB125.
The developmentally dsabled and KanCare
When we returned to the Capitol on there were over 1,000 advocates and developmentally disabled Kansans waiting for us. Last year, the developmentally disabled were allowed to continue working with their current community providers rather than falling under the new KanCare system that turned over administration of the State's Medicaid services to three insurance companies. This exemption ends in January 2014 and the families of the developmentally disabled are still not convinced that putting an insurance agent between their loved one and their non-medical service providers is the right thing to do. They maintain that "KanCare is a program for managing medical services; but IDD services are not medical services, and managing them as a medical program will not save money, it will cost more." They have recommended that the Legislature wait to include the non-medical developmentally disabled community programs until KanCare gets on its feet and/or a pilot program can be completed and evaluated in order to make an evidence based decision.
On May 9, a representative on the House Appropriations Committee offered an amendment to the House version of the budget. It was a proviso that states if the Developmentally Disabled are excluded from KanCare like they are requesting, then they would not receive the $4 million that the governor recently proposed to use to provide services to disabled Kansans currently waiting for services.The Committee adopted the proviso.
Melanie Meier represents the 41st House District.
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