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Pat PetteySen. Pat Pettey
by Sen. Pat Pettey
Jan. 31, 2014
In this issue
• This week at the Capitol
• Mortgage registration fee
• Victims notification
• Tanning beds
• Children's healthcare
• Capitol tours
• Important state phone numbers
This week at the Capitol
Legislators, other Kansas dignitaries, and hundreds of visitors celebrated Kansas Day – the 153rd anniversary of our statehood – on Wednesday, Jan. 29, with a dedication of the fully restored Capitol. I spent the week in committee meetings, where a number of bills now have scheduled hearings or have passed out of committee. Action on the Senate floor has been delayed until a replacement for Sen. Jay Emler, R-McPherson, – who resigned after being confirmed as the new chairman of the Kansas Corporations Commission – is sworn in. The replacement for Sen. Emler was elected in McPherson on Jan. 30. Nine-term Rep. Charles Schwartz is now senator for the 35th District. He should be in his seat on Monday.
I have introduced two bills for hearing this week. SB338 proposes a sales tax exemption for the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas. SB342 proposes that state or municipal buildings operated as public libraries or community centers, as well as community mental health centers, be exempt from the current conceal carry statute.
To track bills, go to www.kslegislature.org and click on the “Bills and Laws” link. You are also welcome to testify before a committee on any issue important to you. A written copy of your testimony is required at least 24 hours prior to the committee hearing.
If you have any questions about testifying or about bills in general, feel free to contact my office at 785-296-7375 or stop by my legislative office, located in 125-E of the Topeka Statehouse. My assistant’s name is Jennifer Parson.
Daily calendars, committee and district information, and full text and summaries of bills are all available online at www.kslegislature.org. To hear legislative proceedings, just click on “Listen in Live.”
Mortgage registration fee
The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee held hearings Wednesday and Thursday on the bill (Senate Bill 298) that seeks to repeal the mortgage registration fee. The main proponents of the bill are the bankers and the Kansas Association of Realtors. They contend that it discriminates against people who need to borrow money to buy homes or business property. In contrast, the Wyandotte and Johnson county Realtors do not support this bill and feel that buyers see this fee as part of purchasing a home. The main opponents are county officials who say without the fee, they will have to spread the cost to every property taxpayer. Nancy Burns, Wyandotte County Register of Deeds, was present for the hearings and is very concerned about the $1.2 million lost to Wyandotte County annually. This bill has a $16 million loss for Johnson County annually.
Democrats who serve on the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee are Sen. Tom Holland, ranking member (Dist. 3, Baldwin City); and, Sen. Anthony Hensley (Dist. 19, Topeka).
The bill, introduced by Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, that would strongly urge the Department of Corrections to notify a victim’s family within 14 days prior to the release of a criminal defendant passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week with minor amendments. One amendment moves responsibility of notification from the secretary of corrections and places it on the county or district attorney of the county in which the criminal proceedings are pending. The other amendment, offered by Sen. Pettey, names the law in honor of two victims so it would be known as Adrian Olajuwon Crosby and Dominique Nathaniel Tyree Green’s Law. Senate Bill 248 will now go to the Senate floor for full debate.
I serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee with Sen. David Haley (Dist. 4, Kansas City, Kan.).
Early in the week, a bill in the Senate Public Health and Welfare committee caused a stir. Senate Bill 302 sought to ban surrogate pregnancy in the state. The committee was scheduled to hold two days of testimony and discussion related to the bill, but after significant public opposition of the bill the chair canceled the second day. Further action on the bill is not expected this session. I am wholly opposed to banning surrogacy. A former colleague of mine has a family because of the support of a sibling to be her surrogate.
Democrats who serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee are Sen. Laura Kelly, ranking member (Dist. 18, Topeka); and, Sen. David Haley.
The House Committee on Health and Human Services held hearings Tuesday on a bill that would prohibit the use of any tanning device by anyone under the age of 18. The bill is House Bill 2435, and indicates that any tanning salon found in violation of the law would be fined $250. The Board of Cosmetology oversees the licenses of tanning salons.
Democrats who serve on the House Committee on Health and Human Services are Rep. Jim Ward, ranking member (Dist. 86, Wichita) Rep. Pat Sloop (Dist. 88, Wichita), Rep. John Wilson (Dist. 10, Lawrence), and Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore (Dist. 36, Kansas City, Kan.).
Children’s health care
Kansas Action for Children reports that since 2008, the percentage of children living in poverty in Wyandotte County has increased from 26 percent to more than 39 percent. It costs $1,400 for an uninsured person to use our emergency rooms, but only $400 per year if they go to a Safety Net clinic. Our continual funding of these clinics is imperative to keep lower health care costs overall.
The Capitol building is truly the house of the Kansas people. Especially now that renovations are complete, I would encourage everyone to visit. It’s truly a spectacular building.
The Statehouse has a tour guide service for visitors to the Capitol. Visitors must enter the capitol building on the north side or through the underground parking garage; the entrance to the garage is also on the north off 8th Street near the corner of 8th and Harrison. It is free to park for two hours. The Visitors Information Desk is on the Garden Level of the Capitol. To schedule a group tour, call 785-296-3966.
Important state phone numbers
Here is a list of numbers I often receive requests for during the legislative session. I hope you will find this information helpful.
Child Abuse Hotline
Crime Tip Hotline
Crime Victim Referral
Department on Aging
Driver’s License Bureau
KanCare Consumer Assistance
Kansas State Library
School Safety Hotline
Suicide Prevention Hotline
Tax Refund Status Info
Victims of Human Trafficking