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Archive for Monday, February 16, 2004

The Capitol Report

News and views from the Kansas Statehouse

February 16, 2004

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Morris opposition

State Board of Education member Connie Morris, who made national news with her position against teaching the children of undocumented workers, testified against a bill that would allow in-state tuition for children of undocumented workers. Morris, a Republican from St. Francis in far western Kansas, was cut short because of time constraints during the hearing, but in her prepared remarks said the tuition proposal was unfair to Kansas taxpayers. She also had some unkind words for illegal immigrants. "By living every breath in this country as a liar and thief, these parents have disgraced their children and are guilty of negligence and abuse in clearest terms," she said.

Workers' comp

Continuing efforts by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry to reduce workers' compensation benefits prompted a study on workers' comp by labor groups and trial lawyers. The study, prepared by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University, says Kansas employers pay the fourth-lowest premiums for workers' comp insurance in the nation, Kansas has the 11th-lowest cost per workers' comp case and injured workers in Kansas receive the seventh-lowest benefits. The study can be accessed at www.ksworksafety.org.

Wining and dining

No one's going hungry in the Legislature. Nearly every day there are receptions, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and parties for lawmakers. Here is the social calendar for legislators for just today: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., reception sponsored by Boeing, Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other industries and lobbyists; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Kansas Automobile Dealers Assn., reception and buffet dinner at Capitol Plaza Hotel; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Kansas Pork Assn., reception at the Senate Luxury Suites; 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Kansas Trial Lawyers Assn., reception at the association's office; 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Washburn University Appreciation Evening at Washburn.

Legislative round file

Dozens of bills were filed Wednesday, the deadline for individual lawmakers to submit legislation. But most Capitol observers and the lawmakers who file the bills know such late pieces of legislation are destined for the trash heap because committees already have set their schedules for hearings. The bills are filed to please constituents back home or make a nice postcard during campaign season.

Rural judges

Legislation that would remove the requirement to have at least one judge per county has upset rural judges and lawmakers. Some opponents of the bill have noted that the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services already has pulled offices out of many rural counties, and they say removing judges will further detract from the quality of life in rural areas.

House committee on controversies

House Federal and State Affairs Committee will have its hands full with emotionally charged topics this week.

Today and Tuesday will be devoted to hearings on regulation of abortion clinics (HB 2751); Wednesday and Thursday will be spent working on a bill to allow Kansans to carry concealed guns (HB 2798), and the committee chairman, William Mason, a Republican from El Dorado, has said he may have a vote Friday on the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages (HCR 5033). The committee meetings start at 1:30 p.m. in Room 313.

Hot Line operating

The library within the Kansas Statehouse has opened its Legislative Hot Line, providing callers with easy access to information on bills, committee meetings, voting records and the legislative processes.

The hot line's toll-free number: (800) 432-3942.

The library maintains a permanent index of past bills, amendments, conference committee reports, and more than 50 years' worth of newspaper clippings.

Schedule

What to watch this week:

  • Senate Judiciary, 9:30 a.m. today, Room 123: Final action on SB 355, which makes changes in determining mental retardation in death penalty cases, and SB 442, which allows in death penalty cases the punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
  • Senate Ways and Means, 10:30 a.m. Monday, Room 123: Subcommittee reports on higher education funding.
  • Senate Federal and State Affairs, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Room 231: Hearings on Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' gambling bill.
  • House Taxation, 9 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, Room 519: Hearings on proposals to repeal or delay streamlined sales tax provisions
  • House Appropriations, 9 a.m. Wednesday, Room 514: Hearing on maintaining the van pool program.
  • House Higher Education Committee, 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Room 231: Hearing on HB 2755, which requires two-game series between Kansas University men's basketball team and Wichita State.

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