The legislature hit the ground running last week in light of the impending "turnaround" deadline at the end of the month. This is a deadline when all bills must be passed out of their chamber of origin.
Any bills not passed out will die at the end of the session and would have to be re-submitted during next year’s session.
As we continue to move toward “turnaround,” the pace in the House will continue to pick up as we work House bills. Last week, we debated 10 bills and passed 12 on to final action.

Corrections budget issue
We passed last week a revised fiscal year 2015 corrections budget. During floor debate, there were a handful of amendments considered by the House.
Three amendments to the bill were defeated, but we did add an amendment know as the Winn amendment, which prohibits the purchase or leasing of property for operation of a parole office within 1,000 feet of a child care facility.
This issue stems from a situation in Wyandotte County, where a parole office is set to open next month adjacent to a large day care center with more than 100 children. Of concern in this case is that many of the parolees are sex offenders.
I voted in support of this amendment as well as the bill.

Social Service issues
The increased funding procured recently for county health clinics, or safety net clinics, survived the Committee on Appropriations and was passed on to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, where it's expected to survive as well and make it to final budget.
Funding for the infants and toddlers program, known as the Tiny-K program, cleared the House Appropriations Committee with an annual funding increase of $100,000 each year starting in 2015. The final outcome of this increase is now up to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

HB 2453: Protecting religious freedom regarding marriage
House Bill 2453 creates no right for anyone to deny general services or otherwise discriminate against anyone based upon sexual orientation or identity.
Put simply, HB 2453 protects personal liberty of conscience.
The bill is tightly drafted to advance a simple principle that should unite all Kansans, that “The state should never force anyone to perform an action he or she believes to be wrong as a matter of sincerely held religious belief, unless it has a good reason, not merely to have the action performed, but to insist that even those who find it wrong perform it.”
The bill covers a narrow range of conduct such as:
• Upholding the principle that a church that rents out its sanctuary for weddings should not be punished by the state if it declines to host weddings that violate the Church’s beliefs.
• Upholding the principle that a small business owner, like a wedding photographer, should not be punished by the state if he/she declines to attend and provide services at a wedding that is contrary to their beliefs.
• It upholds the principle that an entity like Catholic Charities should not be restricted by the state from helping families with adoption services simply because of the Catholic Church’s beliefs regarding marriage.
The bill grants only those legal rights already provided in Title VII of the federal civil right act with respect to an employer’s duty to accommodate the religious beliefs of its employees.
In fact, the section of the bill dealing with such accommodations provides, for the first time in Kansas law, a clear obligation for those employers covered by the act to ensure that the requested service is in fact provided.  This is just one example of the many ways in which the bill is carefully structured to respect the rights of Kansans on both sides of the marriage debate.
While marriage is an issue about which thoughtful and sincere people can disagree, we should all be able to agree that the government should not punish anyone for the views they hold on this sensitive issue — HB 2453 is limited to advancing this important goal, nothing more.
There has been debate on whether this bill exceeds the intent as written. I expect that this issue will be debated further in the Senate committee and rewritten if necessary.

Education
HB 2475 is a bill mandating the teaching of financial literacy as a requirement for high school graduation.
The bill was debated for two days and then tabled. This bill will be re-worked with amendments and is expected to be passed with bipartisan support and with support from the State Board and the Department of Education.
HB 2621 dealing with Common Core Educational Standards and data collection will be heard in the Education Committee on Wednesday.
This bill declares current state reading, math and science standards void, restricts the use of state assessment data, requires use of the previous state assessment program for two more years and requires “Kansas only” standards in the future.

All-day kindergarten
Last week, a special House committee had its first meeting on Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to phase-in all day kindergarten programs, but later the House Education Budget Committee voted to remove funding proposed by the governor. Many House members are skeptical of the program.

I encourage you to let me know your thoughts on issues discussed by the legislature and others that might affect you. Feel free to call me at (785) 296-7653 or email john.bradford@house.ks.gov.