Rep. Jene Vickrey, R- Louisburg
This week the Legislature has reached “Turnaround,” the halfway point of the 2011 session. The last days committees held hearings before spending the rest of the week debating a wild variety of issues occurred last week.The House debated, amended, and passed around 65 more bills this week. Those are now sent to the Senate for consideration. Next week the House will focus on legislation that has been passed by the Senate and continue work on the budget for the 2012 fiscal year (FY 2012) which begins July 1.
One of the highlights this week was the announcement by the U.S. Air Force awarding Boeing the $35 billion contract to replace the mid air refueling tanker. The refueling contract will give an overall $388 million dollars each year to the state’s economy. It is wonderful to have some great news about our Kansas economy. We all hope for more good news to come.
Illegal Immigrants In-State Tuition
HB 2006 would no longer allow illegal immigrants to be considered in-state residents and would result in the loss of in-state tuition rates for those students at Kansas post secondary institutions. Currently, there are 431 illegal immigrants taking advantage of the lower tuition rates.
Late Term Abortion
HB 2035 would fulfill the original legislative intent in the current late term abortion ban. There has been an unintended loophole which this bill would close. The bill would also make a change to require parental consent for minors from the current notification requirement. Finally the bill would update the partial birth abortion language to bring it in line with the federal ban. This particular measure is a combination of legislation passed during prior sessions that was vetoed by democratic Gov. Sebelius and Gov. Parkinson.
Photo ID to Vote
HB 2067 would require all Kansas voters show any government issued photo identification before voting and for those over 65 years of age an expired ID would be accepted. It also would require proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Anyone who is already registered in our state will not have to prove citizenship even if they move. Only someone who is registering for the first time in Kansas would have to prove citizenship.
Pay Check Protection
HB 2130 would give union members the freedom to choose how they would like their union contributions spent. Union members would still have the option of donating funds through personal payments to union PAC activities. If workers want their financial support to go to a political candidate, they are still given the opportunity to direct their money to that respective candidate. If workers would like their funds to go towards negotiations or other union activity, then those dollars must be specifically directed to those endeavors.
In the time I have served in the Kansas House, the tactics of those who protested the Final Action vote Thursday represented the most inappropriate action I have seen. Most of us understand a spirited opposition or support of issues as we walk to the floor of the House. In fact, I have never avoided those outside the chamber by taking the back stairs as our district’s legislator. The opportunity to have a last minute conversation about an issue is often informative. But that was not the case as we walked to the House floor on Thursday. A group of protesters shouted at each of us and made inappropriate comments. It did seem very unlikely that anyone would benefit if I had attempted to have any discussion with anyone as I went to session. During the vote, the group had to be removed by the Capitol Police from the House Gallery as they loudly shouted in opposition to passage of the bill and they would not become orderly. These actions probably are harmful to their cause.
NBAF Funding Resolution
Senate Concurrent Resolution 1605 (SCR 1605) sends a message to the U.S. Congress asking for quick funding for the construction of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan. SCR 1605 passed the Senate with a unanimous voice vote on Thursday, Feb. 24. The House passed SCR 1605 the next day by a vote of 119 to 0. This facility will bring over a thousand good paying, permanent jobs to Kansas.
HB 2191 would give local school boards the ability to extend the length of time they need to make a decision whether to grant teacher tenure. The extension would require an agreement between the teacher and the school board and would possibly allow an additional two years of employment.
I have heard from several of our school board members that the current law often forces them to error on the side of caution and release teachers they wished they could have kept employed.
That opportunity should benefit our students and teachers.
House Session begins next week on Wednesday and we will begin work on bills that have passed the Senate and will also continue work on the FY 2012 budget.
If there is anything I may assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me at (785)291.3500 or email me at [email protected]