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Week 11 Newsletter

As this week comes to an end, we have reached a milestone at the Capitol. We have reached “Drop Dead Day.” That means that any bills that are not exempt (introduced or sent to Appropriations, Taxation or Fed & State) are either voted on by March 27th or are no longer considered for debate and must wait until next session. This made for some long days on the floor of the House. We worked until 1130pm Monday and 930pm Tuesday debating and voting on 44 different bills. There were some important pieces of legislation that were voted on that I would like to discuss.

HB 2274 requires notification of patients that the effects of a medication abortion may be reversible. This would require physicians who administer the chemical abortion drug to let their patients know in writing that the effects of the first dose may be reversed within a certain time period. Abortion is tragic decision that some women choose to make. It’s important for them to know if they have second thoughts, there are options. I voted in favor of this bill.

House Sub for SB 16 made amendments to the Kansas School Equity and Enhancement Act and other statutes relating to education. While there has been some controversy over whether or not this will impact the school funding lawsuit, this bill does some great things. It requires the school districts to create performance accountability and achievement reports and post them on their website. Each year, every school district will be required to certify that they have reasonably calculated and allocated sufficient funds starting at the instructional category level to met the goals set out by the Rose Standards. The state will pay for the opportunity for each student in the 11th & 12th grade to take the ACT and each 9th grader to take the Pre-Act. This creates a state-wide bullying prevention hotline to be administered by the Dept. of Education and requires school districts to tighten their bullying prevention plans. These are just a few of the items this bill does to improve the educational experience of our children. I voted in favor of this bill.

HB 2118 provides income tax credits for aerospace and aviation program graduates and their employees. It creates a public / private partnership to pay down students loans to a certain amount if students go into the aviation realm. While I generally don’t support programs that provide certain benefits to specific industries, Kansas is losing jobs and population because surrounding states have implemented these programs. If we don’t do something, we will find more companies, similar to Boeing, leaving the air capital of the world. It is my plan and hope to work towards broadening the scope of this bill next session to further incentive our children to make Kansas their home. I voted in favor of this bill. It passed the House 106-18.

HB 2326 allows Kansas to recognize the license to carry a concealed firearm by other jurisdictions. In Missouri you can obtain your concealed and carry license at 19 and in South Dakota at 18. These are a few examples of states whose standards were different than ours so this bill would allow those legally possessing a concealed and carry to be legal while carrying in Kansas. As a result of this bill being introduced, I had the opportunity to introduce a floor amendment to reduce the age a citizen of Kansas can obtain their concealed and carry permit in Kansas to 18. We had a nearly 2 hour debate on the House floor regarding the pros and cons of this amendment and bill. It was the feeling of the body that if your old enough to join the military and old enough to vote, you should be old enough to have the right to obtain your license to carry a firearm concealed for self-defense. I voted in favor of this bill. It passed the House 83-41.

There were a number of bills I chose to vote against. HB 2371 would allow a fee increase in for oversize and overweight vehicles. HB 2372 would create an additional tax on electric and hybrid vehicles. One of the most controversial bills that I voted against was HB 2244 which would allow up to 5% THC (the cannabinoid in marijuana that gets you high) to be mixed with CBD oil for the treatment of patients with significant ailments. While I certainly empathize with the patients and understand their desire to find treatments that work, I feel this is the first step towards medical and recreational marijuana legalization which I do not support. I am quite concerned that the House has voted to legalize a hallucinogenic for self-administration and dosing. It did pass the House 89-35.

So what’s next? Going forward the legislature will focus on bills that were passed in both chambers (House & Senate) but were slightly different as it relates to amendments and technicalities. These bills go into what is called conference committees. This is where three members of the House and three members of the Senate meet together to work out their differences. Once they meet somewhere in the middle, it will go back to each chamber for a concur or nonconcur vote. If both chambers concur, it goes to the Governor for her signature or veto. If one chamber or the other votes to non-concur, it goes back to the conference committee for more work and the process repeats itself.

There are many conferences but none are as important as the budget. The only bill that is required to be passed each year is the budget. Since Kansas works on a balanced budget, and can’t borrow money just to operate, there are various agencies and organizations fighting over the same dollars. It becomes the conference committees job to work out the difference between where the House feels the money should be spent and the Senate.

This process begins in earnest on Monday. They meet regularly through the week to get the work done and by Friday we are at first adjournment. The legislature then takes 3 weeks off before veto session begins on May 1st. During veto session, we consider any bills the Governor has decided to veto plus continue working through the budget. More to come on that as we get closer.
Please let me know if you have any concerns or topics of interest. I would be happy to visit with you. It is truly an honor to be your Representative and I am humbled by your prayers and support.

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Committee to Elect Stephen Owens,
Gloria Arrellano, Treasurer
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