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Pat PetteySen. Pat Pettey
Feb. 7, 2014
In this issue:
• This week at the Capitol
• Community broadband
• Net metering
• Governor signs bill into law
• Health care
• Important state phone numbers
This week at the Capitol
Two snow days halted the work of the Kansas Legislature this week. Committees resumed work Thursday. We anticipate a full schedule next week, including debates and votes on the Senate floor.
The Senate convenes every day at 2:30 p.m. To listen to legislative proceedings, just click on “Listen in Live” on the homepage of www.kslegislature.org. You can also find daily calendars, committee and district information, and full text and summaries of bills on that website.
If you have any questions about any bills, feel free to contact my office at 785-296-7375 or stop by my legislative office, located in Room No. 125-E of the Topeka Statehouse.
After receiving much public outcry, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, canceled the hearing scheduled for Tuesday regarding the bill (Senate Bill 304) that sought to prohibit municipalities from providing video, telecommunications, and broadband services except in the case of unserved areas. This would prohibit services such as Google Fiber from expanding further into Kansas. Thank you to all for your emails against this bill.
Democrats who serve on the Senate Commerce Committee are Sen. Tom Holland, ranking member, D-3rd Dist., Baldwin City; and, Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau , D-29th Dist., Wichita.
Late last week, the Senate Committee on Utilities held a hearing on Senate Bill 280, which would change the net metering act. Currently, if a Kansas consumer installs a wind turbine or solar panels on their house and generates excess electricity, the utility company credits them 1-to-1 against charges for electricity they draw from the grid. For every one kilowatt hour the consumer produces with their system in excess of what they are using, the utility company credits them for one kilowatt hour that is applied toward a future bill. Any excess credits remaining expire at the end of such year.
The proposed legislation would reduce the reimbursement rate for any systems having an interconnect agreement after July 1, 2014, to one-and-a-half times avoided costs, generally the fuel used for production, and allow the Kansas Corporation Commission to establish an additional charge for all customer-generators. The utility companies who introduced the bill are arguing that this change would mean that customer-generators would be paying more of their share of the costs of maintaining the utility grid. Opponents to the bill argue that the payment to them would be far less than the value of electricity during peak times of use and does not value their investment.
This bill discourages Kansans from putting in place alternative sources to generate electricity. I will continue to monitor this bill closely.
Democrats on the Senate Committee on Utilities are Sen. Marci Francisco, ranking member , D-2nd Dist., Lawrence; and Sen. Tom Hawk, D-22nd Dist., Manhattan.
Governor signs bill into law
The governor signed the first bill for the 2014 session into law on Monday after the House voted the bill out last week. House Bill 2303, which the Senate voted on during the 2013 session, increases the reinstatement fees for driving under the influence violations. The fee increases from $100 to $200 for the first occurrence, $200 to $400 after the second occurrence, and so on. It also increases the reinstatement fees for test refusal convictions from $400 to $600 after the first occurrence, $600 to $900 for the second occurrence, and so on. The money collected from the increase of fees will be used in part to fund salary increases for judicial branch (non-judge) employees. I voted for this legislation in 2013.
Thursday was Wear Red Day at the Capitol. Legislators and staff wore red to raise awareness of heart disease—more deadly for women than all kinds of cancers combined. See the photo of Senators and Assistants below.
From the American Heart Association:
• “Did you know that 30 percent of Kansans are obese, making it the 14th fattest state in the country? Reducing the average body mass index of Kansans by 5 percent could lead to healthcare savings of more than $2 billion in 10 years.”
• “French fries are the most common vegetable that children eat, making up 25 percent of their vegetable intake. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables helps kids get the nutrients they need from food.”
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 Commission on Veterans Affairs
Kansas State Library
School Safety Hotline
Suicide Prevention Hotline
Tax Refund Status Info
Victims of Human Trafficking