Statehouse briefing: Should kindergarten be mandatory
Here are today's headlines from Kansas government:
(AP) Proposal would require kindergarten:Educators say kindergarten has become so important to the development of children that it's time for the state to make attendance mandatory. A bill sponsored by Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, and Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, would do just that. The mandatory school attendance age in Kansas is 7, and kindergarten is optional. The senators' bill would lower the mandatory age to 6, and require children to attend at least half-day kindergarten. "Kindergarten used to be just total socialization," Topeka teacher Nancy Armstrong told Kelly during a meeting of educators. "That is changed. Kindergarten is the foundation. Without it, first-grade test scores are a struggle." A hearing is scheduled for Thursday before the Senate Education Committee, of which Schodorf is chairwoman.
(Wichita Eagle) Homeowners, consumers bear tax burden: If you're a workaday Kansan, you're probably paying a higher proportion of sales and property taxes than special interests with the clout to push exemptions through the Statehouse or City Hall.
(LJW) Measure to loosen resident tuition rules: Saying they want to plug the brain drain, lawmakers are looking at ways to make it cheaper for people with a Kansas connection to attend college in the state.
(KC Star) Another try on funeral bill: After members of a Kansas church started protesting the funerals of soldiers killed overseas, dozens of states passed laws banning such activities. But not Kansas. A bill proposed last year failed. Now, lawmakers want to try again.
(LJW) Pari-mutuel facing long odds: When Kansas voters approved wagering on horse and dog tracks in 1986, they were told it would be a big moneymaker for the state economy. Twenty years later, the amount of money bet on races has fallen to the point that the tracks don't even generate enough in wagering taxes to cover the cost of the state to regulate them.
(Harris News Service) Rep. Holland leads tax cut charge: When lawmakers discuss ways to help small businesses, Rep. Tom Holland can claim firsthand knowledge of the challenges they face. After all, the Baldwin City Democrat co-owns a small firm with his wife, Barbara, that specializes in information technology consulting. Thus Holland can relate to legislative discussion over several business issues this session. He's hoping to help advance bills to cut the state's corporation franchise tax and unemployment tax.
(LJW) Capitol Briefing: Kevin Willmott, filmmaker and associate professor at Kansas University, gets pointers on his newest project ... state Rep. Lee Tafanelli, of Ozawkie, says he is thinking about running for the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2008 ... The heavy lifting for universal health starts Friday with the first meeting of Health for All Kansans Steering Committee.
(Topeka Capital-Journal) Commitee make-up at stake: The fight over the contested 16th House District has largely centered around one seat, that of Rep. Gene Rardin, D-Overland Park. For Democrats in the House, however, there is more at stake than just Rardin's vote.