In this issue:
· Week 5 Recap: Bill deadlines, tax plan delay
· Committee hears testimony on school funding amendment
· Brownback’s tax plan sent back to committee
· Press conference highlights anti-labor bills
· Democrats introduce pro-labor bills
· District happenings
· Office visitors
· Prime Healthcare Services
· Indian Springs mall redevelopment
· Congratulations to Dennis Hays
· Major League Soccer
· Sebelius appoints Moore regional director
· Older Worker Awards ceremony
· KanCare Education Tour scheduled
· Unclaimed property
· Personal notes
Week 5 Recap: Bill deadlines
This Wednesday marked the last day for individual members to introduce a bill on the Senate floor, while Friday was the last day for most committee bill introductions. Bills that weren’t introduced are now considered “dead,” and any legislator wanting to introduce the bill again must begin the process anew next session.
In addition to these deadlines, Senate and House Democrats held a press conference discussing the host of anti-labor bills that have been introduced in both chambers. Many are being heard and debated in committees.
In the coming weeks, legislators will be asked to debate Gov. Brownback’s tax plan and school funding. They will also hear bills in committees related to education, elections, and taxes.
All House and Senate sessions are open to the public. And live broadcasts of Senate and House proceedings can be found at www.kslegislature.org (http://patpettey.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e70d9e4f69b9b3ee26fd11378&id=8f505ec48f&e=c792e726cf) . To hear legislative proceedings, just click on the “Listen in Live” link.
I am honored to serve as your Senator. My office is located in room 125E. Please feel free to visit or contact me at 785-296-7375 if you should have any questions.
Committee hears testimony on school funding amendment
As members of the Senate Judiciary Committee we heard testimony this week on the proposed constitutional amendment SCR 1608 concerning school funding. The proposed amendment would give the Legislature the power to define what constitutes “suitable funding” for schools.
This amendment is in response to the three-judge panel ruling in January that stated the Legislature isn’t meeting its K-12 school funding duty under the Kansas Constitution. The state currently pays a base state aid of $3,838 per pupil. The judges ruled the funding needs to be increased to $4,492 by FY2014, which begins July 1, 2013. This means approximately $440 million would need to be allocated to the budget.
Superintendent Cindy Lane of the Kansas City, Kan., school district was one of eight conferees who spoke in opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment. Most conferees felt that this change is unnecessary and that the judiciary branch is open to the people when they feel that state law is not being followed’
Gov. Brownback’s two-year budget proposal issued the first week of session does not include any funds to comply with this ruling. Instead, he and other Republicans are focused on getting this amendment through.
Gov. Brownback's tax plan sent to Senate floor
After a delay in committee last week, Senate Commerce Committee recommended Senate Bill 78 for passage on Tuesday. The bill will be debated on the Senate floor sometime next week.
Gov. Brownback’s tax plan originally proposed to eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction and the property tax deduction for the 2013 tax year as well as retain the current sales tax rate at 6.3 percent and further reduce income taxes.
Members of the Senate Commerce Committee voted to amend the bill so that it removed the elimination of the property tax deduction. The bill now only proposes to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction act, retain the 6.3 percent sales tax rate, and further reduce income tax rates.
Projections from the nonpartisan Legislative Research Department indicate that by FY2018, we will be in a deficit of almost $780 million.
There is just no good news for Kansas when it comes to this tax bill.
Press conference highlights anti-labor bills
Senate and House Democrats held a press conference Monday to discuss the host of bills introduced in both chambers that make the Republican’s anti-labor agenda very clear. These bills include:
- HB2083 – Redistributes the burden of mediation costs onto employees
- HB2085 – Narrows the scope of negotiable terms and removes exclusivity of bargaining agents.
- HB2023 – the “Paycheck Deduction Bill” – prohibits workers from allowing automatic payroll deductions to pay voluntary contributions to political action committees and broadens the definition of “political activities” to limit what public employee organizations can and cannot do with their funds.
- HB2123 – Prohibits collective bargaining by public employee organizations and prohibits voluntary payroll deductions of all dues, fees, or other payments affiliated with public employee organizations.
- SB73 – Tilts workers compensation appeal process to favor employers.
- HB2069 – Prohibits prevailing wage provisions.
- HB2105 – Broadens the definition of “misconduct” that can disqualify a worker from receiving unemployment benefits.
- HB2124 – Delays unemployment insurance benefits, diminishes holiday pay.
Democrats introduce pro-labor bills
Bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate that stem from job-creating proposals offered in 2012. Their bills will keep Kansas jobs from being exported, re-instate the prevailing wage, increase the state minimum wage, and stop unscrupulous hiring practices, among others. The bills introduced include:
- HB2273 & SB178 - Hire Kansans First Act
- HB2279 & SB198 – Buy American Act
- SB48 – Kansas Employer E-Verify Accountability Act
- HB2323 – Increases minimum wage with each increase in the cost of living.
- HB2334 – Requires prevailing wage for public works projects.
These bills have been referred to committees. Please contact your representatives and ask your friends, family, and colleagues to contact theirsenators and representatives to encourage them to schedule hearings for the bills. This will increase their likelihood of being passed out of committee and opens them for debate on the House and Senate floors. These bills cannot pass without reaching the floor first.
Kansas City Kansas Community College library staff member Joe Grasela will present “The Color of Civil War Money”, an analysis of African American artist John W. Jones. The program will be held at 11 a.m. in the KCKCC Intercultural Center, 7250 State Ave. All are invited to attend this free event.
Arica Roland and others - Friends of the Yates. (domestic violence program in Kansas City, Kan.)
Patty Sherman – MOCSA advocacy and outreach specialist –Johnson County
Bridgette Jobe - with the Kansas City, Kan., Convention and Visitor Bureau
Don Womack of Johnson County Mental Health Center
Prime Healthcare Services
Prime Healthcare Services has reached an agreement to buy Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., and Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth. Prime Healthcare Services has committed to maintain current acute-care and emergency department services at both campuses for at least five years, maintain current levels of charity care and provide $10 million toward capital and other investment projects during the next five years.
Indian Springs mall redevelopment
Indian Springs Mall Redevelopment is under way with construction of the new Midtown MetroCenter facility and demolition of the former Montgomery Wards Auto Express and Alpha Therapeutic buildings on the west side of the center. The new transit facility is expected to be complete by this summer.
Congratulations to Dennis Hays
Congratulations to Dennis Hays, county administrator of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., for being awarded the 2012 Buford T. Watson Award for Excellence in Public Management by the Kansas Association of City/County Managers. Dennis’s leadership has been a big part of the commercial success in Wyandotte County.
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer announced that Sporting Park will be the venue for the 2013 All Star Game on July 31. The three-day event will continue to raise the stature of the region and Wyandotte County.
Sebelius appoints Moore regional director for HHS
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Thursday that Stephene Moore will be appointed new regional director for HHS. Moore’s husband is former Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, and Stephene Moore ran for Congress in 2010. Moore has been a senior adviser in the Office of Governmental and External Affairs at HHS for the past year.
Older Worker Awards ceremony set for April 9 in Topeka
The Kansas Department of Commerce and the Older Worker Task Force will be the host for the annual Older Worker Awards Ceremony on April 9. The department is now accepting nominations for the awards. Nominations for workers 55 and older and for companies that employ older workers are due by March 18. The online forms can be found at KansasCommerce.com/OlderWorkers. For more information about the ceremony contact the Department’s Susan Weidenbach at 785-296-7842 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominations are accepted for three award categories.
KanCare Educational Tour scheduled
State officials have scheduled meetings around the state to answer Medicaid beneficiaries’ questions about the transition to KanCare. They said they were mailing meeting notices to each KanCare household in the state.
KanCare is the name given Gov. Sam Brownback’s initiative to move virtually all of the state’s 380,000 Medicaid enrollees into managed care plans run by three major insurance companies: United Health Care, Amerigroup and Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene.
Tuesday, Feb. 19 – Kansas City: Hilton Garden Inn, Wyandotte 2, 520 Minnesota Ave.
The troubleshooting teleconference is held each business day from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Those who wish to participate may access dial-in information on the KanCare website (http://patpettey.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e70d9e4f69b9b3ee26fd11378&id=d8c39ab04b&e=c792e726cf)
Each year Kansas businesses send the State Treasurer the names of people with bank accounts, wages, stocks and dividends that have been abandoned. The Unclaimed Property Division seeks to return various forms of unclaimed property to the rightful owner or heirs. The State Treasurer has the authority to take possession of specified types of abandoned personal property and become custodian in perpetuity which preserves the right of the original owner or other persons to claim the property. Go to: http://patpettey.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e70d9e4f69b9b3ee26fd11378&id=9e51e76c52&e=c792e726cf to find out if State Treasurer is holding any unclaimed property for you.
Hard to bid farewell to my uncle Harold Huggins on Tuesday. He was honored by both the KCK Fire Department and the Marine Corps. He was 87.
My schedule’s hectic every day but if you email me about anything I will try to get back to you within 48 hours.
Now that I am sitting on the Ways and Means K-12 Budget Subcommittee I have had a 7:15 a.m. daily. I would encourage any of you that are familiar with the program, Parents as Teachers, to contact any legislator and let them know how important it is to continue to fund this program and not to add a fee for participation. This program assists any parent of a birth to 3 child to recognize developmental milestones, critical early health issues, such as sight problem and support the parent as the child’s first teacher. Only 180 school districts statewide participate now because of budget cuts. We need every tool to prepare our children to be ready to learn.