Opinion

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Good bills slip quietly through House

Greetings from a very spring like Kansas Statehouse. As this week draws to a close we are wrapping up the second round of our committee work for this session. This time, we saw House committees primarily working on Senate bills and vice versa.

HENSLEY: Legislature continues underfund schools

Republican leaders announced their block grant proposal on March 5. By March 9, the House Appropriations Committee held a three-hour hearing on the bill. The next day, the committee worked the bill, amended it, inserted it into a previously-passed Senate bill, and passed it out of committee. One week later, members debated the bill on the floor of the House for several hours. By Friday, the bill passed on a vote of 64-57. Monday afternoon, the bill passed the Senate on a vote of 25-14.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: ‘Block grants’ a cut to local districts

Greetings from the floor of the Kansas House. As I write to you we are sitting on what is termed a call of the House. This procedure is used when some members of the House are absent. All present members of the House have to remain in their seats and the Sergeant at Arms is sent to find absent members and compel them to come back to the chamber to vote.

The subject of the call this week is house substitute for SB 7. This bill repeals the present school funding formula and replaces it with “block grants” to school districts. I am voting no on this bill for a number of reasons.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Tax increases on farmers not the answer

Several bills recently introduced in the Senate would result in substantial tax increases on Kansas farmers; making them the latest group of Kansans to fall victim to Gov. Brownback’s failed economic experiment.

Sen. Jeff Melcher (R-Leawood) introduced a bill that would change how agriculture land is valued.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: House attempts to reduce bundling

Greetings from the snowy statehouse. As I write to you we are finishing our last full week of committee meetings before turn around. Turn around day is the last day that most bills have to be out of their house of origin. In other words, the day when the House has to have acted on most House bills and the Senate has acted on most Senate bills. We will be working a large number of bills in the next week in order to get them out of the House before turn around, and the Senate will be doing the same on their bills.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Hensley opposes election changes

Senator Mitch Holmes, the Chairman of the Committee on Ethics and Elections, introduced a lengthy piece of legislation that seeks to move city and school board elections to the fall and make them partisan. The “Help Kansas Vote Act” also seeks to create a straight ticket ballot and allow county election officers to tell a school district to schedule an in-service day so their buildings can be used as voting sites.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Budget comes up short

Greetings from the Kansas Statehouse. This week has seen a flurry of activity. No issue has been larger this week than what is known as the rescission bill.

Each year the legislature passes a budget for the next fiscal year. State fiscally are named for the year in which they end. We are now more than half way through FY 2015, which will end on June 30 of this year. Because state revenues have continued to fall it became apparent in November 2014 that the state would not have enough money to pay its bills in the latter half of FY 2015.

Governor plans to fill deficit with cigarette, alcohol tax

Blaine Finch | 59th District Representative

Greetings from the unseasonably temperate Kansas Statehouse. We are nearing the end of the second week of the session and the pace of legislative business is beginning to pick up.

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY – 1935: Husband, wife die on same railroad track, 20 years apart

January 20, 2005

A devastating ice storm hit the state last week, stripping trees and leaving 100,000 people across the state without electric power for several days. The governor issued a declaration of a state disaster emergency for 56 counties. Osage County came in for its full share of the damage, but there were no serious injuries.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Inmate, utility reform discussed

Blaine Finch | 59th District Representative

Greetings from the Kansas Statehouse.

As I write to you, we are approaching the end of the first week of the 2015 session. The first week always starts a little slow but quickly picks up steam.

This session I again serve on utilities, corrections and juvenile justice, and judiciary committees.

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