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Pat PetteySen. Pat Pettey
May 17, 2013
In this issue:
· Legislature making slow progress
· Tax talks update
· Senate approves additional NBAF bonding
· Judicial selection, again
· KPERS oversight committee survives
· Asthma awareness
· Congratulations graduates
· PQ Corporation announces $120 million expansion
· District event
· Important state numbers
Legislature making slow progress
At the beginning of this legislative session, GOP leaders declared it would be an 80-day session. Monday of this week marked day 80, and we saw it come and go. Progress is sluggish when it comes to the biggest issues left to be resolved – taxes and the budget. It is still unknown when session will adjourn.
All House and Senate sessions are open to the public. Live broadcasts of Senate and House proceedings can be found at www.kslegislature.org. I am honored to serve as your Senator. My office is located in room 125 E. Please feel free to visit or to contact me at 785-296-7375 if you should have any questions.
Tax talks update
Gov. Brownback, Speaker of the House Ray Merrick (R-Stilwell), and Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) reached an impasse this week after days of closed-door meetings regarding the tax plan.
On Thursday, House Republican leaders introduced a compromise to the tax plan that would increase the sales tax rate to 6 percent, continue income tax cuts, and reduce itemized deductions by 24 percent. Senate Republican leaders weren’t satisfied with the House proposal. They continue to insist on a 6.3 percent sales tax rate.
Senate approves additional NBAF bonding
On a vote of 32-8 Wednesday, members of the Senate approved Senate Bill 245, which authorizes an additional $202 million in bonding for the construction of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan. The bill included one caveat. The bonding will not be authorized until the state has a signed contract between the U.S. government and the construction contractor.
The Kansas Legislature approved $105 million bonding in 2008 when initial construction estimates were made. The additional bonding requested this year is to help cover the expenses of added security features. President Obama’s proposed budget this year includes $714 million for the project.
I voted in favor of this bill .This project provides good paying jobs and will attract related Businesses to the Manhattan area.
Judicial selection, again
On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff King (R-Independence) released another proposal to amend the Kansas Constitution in order to change the judicial selection process. King and other supporters of the proposal argue that the current method of selection – which is done by a non-partisan nominating commission consisting of lawyers and lay people who base their decisions on merit, not political affiliation – is unfair and favors “well-connected, often liberal or centrist attorneys.” They proposed the governor appoint five members to the nine-member nominating commission to avoid attorneys having the majority. Before moving forward with the proposal in the Senate, supporters first sought approval from the Kansas Bar Association’s Board of Governors. They unanimously voted down the proposal late Tuesday afternoon citing in an article published Wednesday in the Lawrence Journal-World that they “felt it provided too much power to the executive branch.” Democrats agree.
Just when we thought that was the last we’d hear of judicial selection this session, Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe) introduced legislation Wednesday during the House Federal and State Affairs Committee meeting that would change to the federal model of Supreme Court judicial selection. The governor would be allowed to make lifetime appointments to the state Supreme Court. Kinzer also introduced a bill that would cap the retirement age for judges at 65. It’s currently 75.
The House has a self-imposed rule of no general orders during veto session so it is unlikely these bills will go anywhere this session. I do not support them.
KPERS oversight committee survives
Senator Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) amended a bill seeking to eliminate several joint committees to retain the Joint Committee on Pensions, Investments, and Benefits. The committee is responsible for the oversight of KPERS investments. It was established by the 1992 Legislature as a result of a $265 million loss in KPERS investment in the early 90s. There have not been any problems with investments in the past decade since the oversight committee was implemented.
The amendment unanimously passed Tuesday and the bill went on to pass in final action Wednesday morning on a vote of 32-8.
I voted in favor of the amendment and the bill.
May is national Asthma Awareness Month. If you or someone you know has asthma and would like to learn more, the American Lung Association provides the online learning module, Asthma Basics. The module, found at www.lung.org, teaches you how to recognize and manage triggers, create an asthma action plan, and respond to a breathing emergency. Information for parents of children with asthma can also be found on the site.
Congratulations to all graduates of the class of 2013! Your graduation marks a significant milestone in your life. Be sure to take time to revel in the moment. Before you know it, your life will be full of great changes as you embark on a journey into your bright future. Congratulations, once again! I look forward to hearing of your many successes in the future.
I was proud to be able to provide letters of congratulations to the high school graduates of Turner, Ward, Schlagle and Harmon.
PQ Corp. announces $120 million expansion at Kansas City, Kan., site
PQ’s investment will expand the already extensive equipment and manufacturing capacity for PQ’s silica catalyst business and its Zeolyst International specialty catalyst operation. The expansion at its Kansas Avenue site is projected to add 40 to 50 additional new jobs to the 100 employees currently employed.
“The new capacity will help PQ meet the growing demand for specialty catalysts throughout the world,” said Mike Boyce, chairman and CEO of PQ Corp. “We believe this investment demonstrates our strong commitment to the state of Kansas, Wyandotte County and the Kansas City local community and builds on the past success of our Kansas City plant and our highly motivated and productive team of employees.”
The expansion and building project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.
Mayor/CEO Mark Holland introduced
Senator Pettey introduced Mayor/CEO Mark Holland in the Senate Chamber on May 10.
I will be one of three legislators speaking at Antioch Library on May 28 at 7 p.m. for a Legislative Wrap Up Session sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Important state phone numbers
Here is a list of numbers I often receive requests for during session. I hope you will find this information helpful.
Child Abuse Hotline
Crime Tip Hotline
Crime Victim Referral
Driver’s License Bureau
Department on Aging
School Safety Hotline
Tax Refund Status Info