Archive for Thursday, March 2, 2006

House drafting school finance, workman’s compensation plans

March 2, 2006

Turnaround Day was Saturday at the Capitol and House committees brought a large amount of legislation to the House floor in anticipation of that deadline.

Last week, the House had a flood of bills to consider including legislation on medical clinic inspections, DNA acquisition during booking, closing of old workman's compensation claims, ignition interlock devices for repeat DUI offenders, strengthening sentences for sex offenders and the introduction of a school finance plan.

Felons to submit DNA

Arguing that many unsolved crimes have abundant DNA evidence that cannot be linked to the perpetrator, HB 2554 would require anyone arrested and booked for a felony, including a person's third DUI, to provide an oral swab of their DNA. The DNA would then be examined to identify 13 neutral points and be processed against DNA already in criminal databases.

The DNA would be used for identification purposes only and would be destroyed if the person was acquitted of the crime for which they were accused.

Most violent felonies leave some DNA evidence behind and this method of investigation will help law enforcement match that evidence to a criminal who is arrested for a different crime in the future.

DUI ignition interlocks

People who are arrested and convicted of more than one DUI would now be required to show proof of the installation of an ignition interlock system before their driving privileges are restored.

An ignition interlock is a device that prevents the car from being started by an intoxicated driver, normally by a breath-testing device attached to the steering column. HB 2916 is set for final action on Friday.

Workman's compensation

HB 2753 would allow administrative law judges, at their discretion, to close workman's compensation claims that are more than five years old because of lack of prosecution.

If a case has failed to move to a final hearing, settlement hearing or an agreed award under the workman's compensation act within five years, the judge may choose to close the case or grant an extension for good cause shown.

Tobacco use at

medical facilities

We are all aware that there is no smoking inside a hospital or medical clinic. House Bill 2739 would expand the ban on tobacco use to include all property and grounds of medical facilities as well. If adopted, this would eliminate designated smoking areas outside hospital doors or in courtyards of medical facilities.

Gift certificates

Most of us have been given a gift certificate on one occasion or another. Some of us have also gone to redeem that certificate only to find out that it's not worth the value it was originally purchased for.

Retailers issuing these certificates and cards, in order to reduce accounting problems, chose to charge a small administrative fee which served to eliminate the outstanding balance from their books if the gift certificate wasn't used in a predetermined amount of time. Others apply an expiration date to the card.

Consumers, on the other hand, like to know that when they are given a gift certificate for $20, that when they attempt to redeem it, it will still be worth $20, no matter how long it may take them to do so. Final action on House Bill 2658 will be taken Friday.

Penalties for sex offenders

House Bill 2576 would enact a penalty of life without the possibility of parole for aggravated persistent sex offenders. Among other penalties, a person convicted of three sexually violent crimes would face a penalty of 25 years to life for their first offense, 50 years to life for a second offense, and life without parole for a third offense. The bill was heavily amended in committee, which created numerous topics for debate on the floor.

Medical clinic inspections

Originally introduced as a bill requiring inspection of medical clinics, House Bill 2829 was amended in the Health and Human Services committee to only apply to the inspection and licensure of abortion clinics.

After emotional debate on the House floor, the bill was amended to reflect its original form and require regulation of clinics and facilities where office-based surgeries and special procedures are performed.

Proponents of the amended bill argued that it allowed for inspections at all clinics, including abortion clinics. Opponents disliked the redundancy of inspections and the ability of clinics to opt out of inspections if they choose.

Final action on the bill occurred Thursday and the bill passed by the narrowest margin, 63-62.

School finance

More details have emerged on the anticipated school finance plan being drafted by the House. The new plan addresses the needs identified in the Legislative Post Audit report, but does so while at the same time granting flexibility in spending by individual districts. Some of the main points of the plan include:

  • Providing approximately $500 million in additional school funding, which will be phased in over three years.
  • Year one of the plan includes $175 million in additional monies and sets aside $500,000 for teachers who wish to become certified under English as a Second Language.
  • The second and third years of the plan would distribute an additional $325 million and seeks to target poverty and at-risk students as identified by the LPA study.
  • School districts will be responsible for determining their own budgets based on a needs assessment and specifying priorities within that budget. Each district will be required to make specific reports on their budget to the Kansas Board of Education.
  • Failure by any school to meet AYP in the first year will be examined by the Kansas Board of Education and the school will be required to reallocate its resources in the following year(s) to address problem areas. A failure to meet AYP in subsequent years will be addressed with increasing intervention by state education officials.
  • Base aid per pupil will increase by $50.
  • Does not change the formula for low enrollment districts.

Additional information

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 contact my office by phone at (785) 296-7692, or by email at Staterepbrown@sunflower.com

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