From the house
The House Federal and State Affairs committee took final action last week on House Bill 2615, which would repeal a law passed last year granting in-state tuition to undocumented aliens who graduated from a Kansas high school or received their GED in Kansas. The bill received a tie vote in committee and therefore failed to be referred to the full House.
M and E
Multiple amendments were suggested in committee for the M and E bill, HB 2619. Many of them were designed to soften any reduction in tax revenue local taxing authorities may experience. Once the bill reached the House floor, other amendments were also approved. The first, introduced by Rep. Arlen Siegfreid (R-Olathe), and commonly referred to as the "Siegfreid Slider" would reimburse localities for lost revenue in the first five years of the exemption. The rate of reimbursement declines 20 percent per year from 100 percent in the first year until it is phased out in year five.
Also added to the bill was a provision to expand the Homestead Property Tax Refund Act by increasing the income eligibility threshold for claimants age 65 and above from $27,000 to $50,000. Additionally, the bill would also expand the school finance residential homestead property tax exemption from $20,000 to $30,000. The bill passed by a vote of 108-14 and was sent to the Senate.
Testimony was heard on three different energy bills Feb. 15 in the House Utilities committee. House Bill 2842 would create a stimulus package for wind energy production in Kansas. Wind energy created would be used to generate electricity but would also be used to produce hydrogen. Through increased hydrogen production, Kansas will begin to build the infrastructure necessary to accommodate hydrogen-burning vehicles, which may be on the market within two years. House Bill 2843 would require certain "green" standards to be used in large construction projects including State of Kansas facilities and public schools. Proponents argue that the construction costs will not increase, but energy costs versus traditional buildings will pay large dividends. Opponents agree with the concept but are skeptical of savings projections and disagree with the enactment of another state mandate on private businesses. House Bill 2844 provides incentives to utility customers who install personal solar cells and personal wind generators at their homes for electric generation.
A bill, which had been defeated in previous years in the Kansas House, received the body's approval this week. HB 2611 passed the House by a vote of 90-29 and would require children ages 4 to 7, weighing less than 80 pounds, and who are less than four feet nine inches in height to be in a booster seat. Compelling testimony changed several votes and allowed for its passage.
The Kansas Highway Patrol, the Kansas Department of Transportation, and the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the Kansas State Nurses Association supported the bill. No opponents testified against the bill in committee, but many members who voted against the final bill felt it was one more instance of government dictating how parents should care for and protect their families.
Nuclear security guards
The protection of the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant is vitally important to Kansas and to the United States. Terrorist activity in the world knows no boundaries. House Bill 2703 would grant security guards at nuclear facilities increased authority should an attack occur. Security officers will be allowed to carry larger caliber weapons and if someone penetrates their already heavy security and poses a direct threat to the vital areas of the facility, officers will be allowed to shoot an intruder to prevent a greater disaster from occurring. HB 2703 was approved in the House Thursday by a vote of 93-27.
Small claims court
House Bill 2704 would raise from ten to 20 the number of claims a person or business may file in a calendar year. The bill was debated on the House floor and final action is expected this week.
Appropriations -- Correctional facilities constructed by private companies
Federal and State Affairs -- Constitutional amendment preventing courts from closing public schools
Judiciary -- DUI, ignition interlock devices, Supreme Court appointments
Transportation -- Speed limits in rural school zones
Utilities -- Weatherization, energy efficiency and energy conservation programs
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. Call my office at (785) 296-7632, or e-mail at Staterepbrown@sunflower.com during the Legislative session.