Education plan narrowly passes through House, moves on to Senate
The final week of March is structured to allow for review of bills that the House and Senate fail to agree on. A bill passed favorably out of its chamber of origin and moved across the rotunda. If that bill gets amended in the second chamber, it must be sent back to the original chamber for them to agree to the changes.
If the chamber disagrees with the changes that were made, a conference committee is appointed. A conference committee normally consists of three members from each chamber and those senators and representatives meet to work out the differences each chamber has.
Monday and Tuesday of last week were reserved for those conference committees to meet and the remainder of the week was set aside for adoption of committee reports or further work if either chamber rejects the committee report. Aside from conference committee work, the House also tackled education, eminent domain and amended the Kansas Funeral Picketing Act.
A marathon session last Thursday night resulted in the narrow passage of the first education plan of 2006. The plan, introduced as a substitute for the plan proposed by the Select Committee on Education, contained provisions that garnered 64 votes for final passage, one more than is necessary for a majority of the 125-member House. Several strategic maneuvers were attempted to delay the vote until more study could be done on the newly unveiled plan but ultimately each failed by a handful of votes. Among dissenters, the largest question appeared to be how the plan would be funded. State General Fund monies will cover the tab in the first year, but in the second and third years of the three-year plan, a funding source will be necessary to cover the costs. House Bill (HB) 2986 is now before the Senate.
Senate Bill 323, limiting the government's power of eminent domain, passed the House by a vote of 117-4. In a much-documented United States Supreme Court decision in Kelo vs. New London, the Court held that the government could seize private property for the purpose of economic development. The majority of the Kansas House disagreed and voted for the protection of private property. The bill is now in conference committee so the House and Senate may work out the differences.
In response to the picketing of funerals of soldiers who have fallen in Iraq, and out of respect to their loved ones, the House made changes this week to the Kansas Funeral Picketing Act. SB 421 would amend the Kansas Funeral Picketing Act by prohibiting persons from engaging in picketing or a directed march within 300 yards of any entrance to any cemetery, church, mortuary or other location where a funeral is held or conducted. The prohibition would commence within one hour prior to, during, and two hours following the commencement of a funeral. Picketers would also be prohibited from blocking public access while engaged in picketing or protesting.
If you have any additional information or if you would like to offer your opinions or suggestions regarding these issues or any others that may be coming before the Kansas House, I want to hear from you. Please call my office at (785) 296-7692, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org during the Legislative session.