Governor’s concealed carry veto overridden by House, Senate
The House was in high gear and cleared the calendar during the last week of the regular 2006 session. In addition to our regular work on major issues like taxes, education, eminent domain and video competition, the House also considered an override of the Governor's veto of the concealed carry bill as well as a Constitutional amendment limiting the power of the Supreme Court to demand appropriation of money from the State treasury.
Several tax bills advanced to final action last Thursday.
The first, Senate Bill (SB) 365, brought Kansas into compliance with the Federal estate tax. In its current form, the bill would exempt estates valued at less than $2 million for the 2007 and 2008 tax years and $3.5 million in 2009. The tax would sunset, effective for the estates of decedents dying on and after Jan. 1, 2010. A second bill, HB 3017, would allow an income tax credit of up to $7,000 to an employer who employs specified members of the Kansas Army and Air National Guard and Reserves. A third bill, HB 2023, simply restored uniformity to local sales tax provisions. Finally, an amendment was brought forth to establish the "Back to School Sales Tax Holiday" and was added to HB 2023.
A Constitutional amendment was proposed which stated, "No money shall be drawn from the treasury except in pursuance of a specific appropriation made by law. The executive and judicial branches shall have no authority to direct the legislative branch to make any appropriation of money or to redirect the expenditure of funds appropriated by law, except as the legislative branch may provide by law or as may be required by the Constitution of the United States. Any existing order directing the legislative branch to make an appropriation of money shall be unenforceable as of the date this provision is adopted.''
This proposal was in direct response to the Kansas Supreme Court directing the Legislature to double the amount of money it had appropriated to fund public education in the 2005 session. The bill -- HCR 5032 -- failed to receive the required two-thirds majority in the House to be put on the ballot for voter approval. It did, however, allow members to explain how the Court over-stepped its authority and express their belief that only those accountable to the people should be allowed to appropriate State funds.
Debate on the House education funding package began late on Thursday. The Select Committee on School Finance proposed a one-year plan with a cost of nearly $177.5 million. The single year plan replaces an original three-year plan that was sustainable in year one, but many believed it exceeded the budget in the second and third years. The one-year plan contains several provisions to address concerns expressed from numerous representatives including new weighting for students who are not proficient that is not tied to the free and reduced lunch program.
Base state aid per pupil would increase $50 from $4,257 to $4,307, at-risk weighting would be increased from 0.193 to 0.27 and a special program was introduced to reimburse districts who pay for teachers for full endorsement as English for Speakers of Other Languages instructors.
Members were three votes short of the two-thirds majority they needed to establish a constitutional amendment limiting the government's power of eminent domain. The final count was 81-43 on House Concurrent Resolution 5025, which would have amended Article 15 of the Kansas Constitution to prohibit state or local governments from taking private real property, except for public use, by eminent domain. Another bill limiting eminent domain, Substitute for SB 323, was discussed, but no action has been taken.
A bill intended to increase competition for cable television brought opposing parties to the table and resulted in a compromise that hopes to achieve lower rates for the consumer. New video technology has allowed AT&T to become providers of video service. Existing cable providers attempted to protect the investment they have made in cable infrastructure in Kansas and wanted to insure a level playing field for all providers new and old. In the end, the bill is meant to benefit the consumer by providing more choices and increased competition. Substitute for Senate Bill 449 received a favorable voice vote and advanced to final action.
In a primarily rural state like Kansas, regional airports provide a vital connection for business and personal travel. When the closest international airports for most residents are in Denver and Kansas City, the plane ride often times becomes the shortest leg of the trip. House Substitute for SB 475 would establish the State Affordable Airfare Fund for the regional airports in Kansas. Money would be appropriated from the State General Fund for distribution to qualifying airports in Kansas to increase competition and reduce the cost of airfare for travelers.
The House and Senate worked quickly last week to override the Governor's veto of the concealed carry law. The Senate voted 30-10 and the House vote was 91-33 to make the bill law against the demands of the Governor.
Qualifying Kansans will now be allowed to apply for a license through the Attorney General's office. Senate Bill 418 will become law after its publication in statute.
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) 296-7632 or by e-mail at Staterepbrown@sunflower.com during the Legislative session.