Editor's note: Sen. Mark Buhler, R-Lawrence, was appointed to fill out the remaining two years of the term of former Sen. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence. Buhler's journal-style column will be published online throughout the 2003 session of the Legislature.
Monday Feb. 10, 2003
More bill introductions today, deadline for bill introductions is tomorrow.
The full Senate and the full House passed a resolution honoring the life of former Senator Jim Allen. Many of you remember Jim Allen, who served in the House for two years and in the Senate for eleven. Allen represented Ottawa and southern Douglas County. If you do remember him, there was a quality about him that was unforgetable. A booming voice, a confident delivery, and you had a feeling he never doubted the votes that he made.
A conservative that championed rural interest, not always the issues that most Douglas Countians supported, and a "square shooter." His family attended the Senate chambers for the reading of the resolution and Democrats and Republicans alike said good things about Jim Allen.
Conference commitee on SB 30 and HB 2026 (the supplemental funding-
cutting bill) today at 5:30 with Ways and Means. Should come out this week. Remember--the no fun one that memorializes the cuts made by
Graves for 2003.
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2003
Senate-House conference committee met on Monday at 5:30 regarding SB
30 and HB2026 Supplemental Funding Bill. The bill eliminates revenue transfers to local government worth 48 million and repays 94 million from the highway fund plus 35 million from other funds. The repayment will start in 2007. This adds a burden down the road for repaying the money "when times get better." The contentions Underground Storage Fund will be repaid in 2007 from a borrowing on the years of 2005 and 2006. That fund, when dropped below a certain level kicks in a 1 cent gas tax that many did not support.
Senate Tax and Assessment committee heard more testimony on the Wind Farm property tax exemption. Committe Chairman, Corbin is interested in securing the in-lieu-of tax payment to counties. Now the energy companies pay an in-lieu-of tax equal to 10-15 percent of what property taxes would yield. His worry is that there is nothing preventing the energy companies from not making the payment. Our constitution may not allow us to tax at a different rate than we currently have in place.
Another bill was introduced that would impose a penalty for not providing information to county appraisal departments on commercial propery. This one could be very controversial or may die a quick death.
Legislative Post Audit introduced the bill---don't blame the counties.
Scott Morgan, Lawrence School Board President testified on a bill that clarifies the statute regarding school board meetings. It should be easy to support, we'll see.
Wednesday Feb. 12, 2003
After Caucus on Wednesday morning, Leadership Lawrence met with Reps. Tom Sloan, Barbara Ballard and Paul Davis, Sen. Robert Lyon (who by the ways represents a significant portion of Lawrence north of Sixth Street due to reapportionment). Leadership Lawrence members attending committee hearings had earlier gone to the Kansas Supreme Court for a tour. It's a great program and the exposure to lots of different issues is valuable.
Hearings on Credit Scoring began with testimony for the Kansas Insurance Department, Sandy Praeger, commissioner. The bill calls for protection for customers regarding the use of insurance credit scoring. There is quite a bit of concern on the part of the committee regarding the lack of knowledge that customers have about this criteria. Hearings will go into
Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003
A full day of committee meetings, discussion with credit scoring issues and the session at 2:30.
The Tax Committee heard discussion on SB 94 and SB 148, both concerning inheritance tax or many say the "death tax". One bill structures the tax to be collected in a fair efficient way now that the Federal law is going away. One bill eliminates it all together.
One interesting side light -- the farm and ranch community believes this is the major culprit in the breakup of family farms and ranches. Assets typically must be sold to pay those taxes, and those assets are usually the farms or ranches. An interesting perspective you don't usually hear.
Friday Feb. 14, 2003
A short session at 9:30 but we're hearing on reauthorization of the 20 mills for K-12 education. Only one proponent. This will get more discussion later.
It looks like Governor Sebelius is telling us that we can't get out of Topeka
with the budget proposal as it is. Most everybody knows that! I'm sure the next few weeks will reveal more of how the Governor wants to solve the budget problem.