Capitol Briefing

News from the Kansas Statehouse

Polluting parks

Steve Miller, a spokesman for Sunflower Electric Power Corp., which is pushing for construction of three coal-fired plants in western Kansas, wrote to a Senate committee to correct testimony he had given them earlier when he said mercury emitted from the plants’ smokestacks would fall on the ground owned by the plant. That was wrong, he said, adding that the mercury would enter the atmosphere and “rotate around the globe like mercury emitted by others.” But Miller downplayed the danger of mercury, saying that he had been told that “the largest emitter of mercury in the United States is Yellowstone National Park.”

Home of record

State Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, is pushing for a bill that would allow military personnel who had previously graduated from a Kansas high school to get the less expensive in-state tuition at a Kansas state university if they return to Kansas within a year of their honorable discharge.

He said he got the idea for the bill after reading and hearing about the case last year of Brian Depperschmidt, who was born and raised in Kansas, then left the state for naval service.

After his discharge, Depperschmidt returned to Kansas but found he didn’t qualify for in-state tuition at Kansas University.

But members of the House Higher Education Committee were not in favor of Otto’s bill.

Rep. Carl Krehbiel, R-Moundridge, and a retired veteran, said service men and women had the option of maintaining Kansas as their “home of record” during their military time, which would enable them to pay in-state tuition when they returned to Kansas.

Many service men and women change their home of record to avoid paying state income taxes, he said. Before returning to Kansas, Depperschmidt had lived in Florida where he bought a house, voted and received a Florida driver’s license.

Audit frenzy

Last year, the Legislature’s audit agency was tied up entirely on the school cost study.

Apparently that has created a pent-up demand for trying to find out what is going on in various agencies.

With the cost study done, the Legislature last week ordered up no less than five studies.

They include audits of the Board of Healing Arts, several foster care cases, in-state tuition granted to some out-of-state students at community schools, state workforce development programs and regulation of auto salvage businesses.

Courts have long memories

Reporters who cover the Statehouse are being moved from their offices and into new digs in the new underground part of the Capitol.

In the old Kansas City Star office is a huge, antique bookcase that legend says former Star correspondent John Petterson somehow managed to secure when the Kansas Supreme Court moved out of the Capitol in the 1970s.

Now that the office will be vacated, Capitol officials let the Star know that the state would be taking the bookcase back.

By the way, the Lawrence Journal-World office number is 047 F-East, which is in the new basement area. The telephone number to reach the Journal-World’s Capitol bureau remains the same, 785-354-4222.

Quote of the week:

It would bleed us white.”

– House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, on funding schools to a level recommended by a cost study that states schools require an additional $400 million to $470 million.

Things to watch:

3:30 p.m. today: Hearing on HB 2706, which would allow suspension of driver’s license for persons owing child support, before House Judiciary Committee, Room 313-South in the Capitol.

9 a.m. Tuesday: Hearing on HB 2601, allowing a three-day sales tax holiday for sales of school supplies, clothing and computers, before House Taxation Committee, Room 519-South in the Capitol.

10:30 a.m. Tuesday: Possible action on SB 418, allowing people to carry concealed handguns, and SB 418, increasing restrictions on demonstrations at funerals.

3:30 p.m. Wednesday: Hearing on HCR 5033, a constitutional amendment that would require Senate consent of nominees to the Kansas Supreme Court, before House Judiciary Committee, Room 313-South in the Capitol.

3:30 p.m. Thursday: Roundtable discussion on child support enforcement, Room 514-South in the Capitol.