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Archive for Monday, January 30, 2006

Capitol Briefing

News from the Kansas Statehouse

January 30, 2006

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Not running like a business

Republican National Committeeman Steve Cloud and Committeewoman Alicia Salisbury on Saturday told Kansas Republicans that the Republican National Committee was flush with cash - $34 million - in anticipation of the congressional elections. "We have good reasons to be optimistic" of maintaining control of Congress, Salisbury said.

But later in the state committee meeting, delegate Nancy Hanahan of Overland Park, complained that despite the healthy finances of the RNC, when she calls the organization for information, they often fail to get back with her.

Westar presents

They didn't screen "Erin Brockovich."

On Thursday, the Legislature's social calendar listed dinner and a movie on Westar Energy's dime.

But there was no movie, according to Westar officials. Instead, filmmaker and Kansas University professor Kevin Willmott spoke about filmmaking to the crowd of about 70 legislators, state officials and staff.

The dinner and talk were held at Westar's headquarters in downtown Topeka.

College savings

The House tax committee has recommended approval of a bill that would extend the Kansas tax deductions to what are called 529 education savings plans to contributions made to similar plans in other states.

Currently, only Kansans who make contributions to the Kansas 529 plan, called Learning Quest, are eligible for a state adjusted gross income deduction for the amount of their contributions.

State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins introduced the bill, saying it would expand opportunities for Kansans. "This tax deduction is about encouraging Kansans to save for their children's future, not controlling their investment choices by giving them a tax deduction only if they choose our plan," Jenkins said.

New veterans committee

House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, has formed a new committee to study policies concerning Kansas military veterans.

Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, will serve as chair. Tafanelli, a commander in the Kansas National Guard, just finished a one-year tour of duty in Iraq.

"I am ready to tackle the concerns and issues currently facing our veterans and am excited to find the best way to meet those needs," he said.

Quotes of the week

In response to questions about the new Medicare drug program:

"Hell. That's what it's been: eight weeks of hell." - Ed Shaw, 79-year-old retired Kansas University biology professor.

"Things, frankly, are getting smoother every day," - Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt during a stop in Kansas.

Things to watch:

10 a.m. today: Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services stakeholder meeting, at SRS Learning Center, 2600 SW East Circle Drive.

9 a.m. Tuesday: Hearing on HB 2548, which would phase out franchise tax, before House Taxation Committee, Room 519-South in the Capitol.

9:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday: Hearings on numerous bills dealing with eminent domain before Senate Judiciary Committee, Room 123-South in the Capitol.

9 a.m. Wednesday: Hearing on HB 2372, penalizing employers who misclassify workers to avoid withholding income tax, before House Commerce and Labor Committee, Room 241-North in the Capitol.

10:30 a.m. Wednesday: Hearing on SB 421 dealing with unlawful picketing at a funeral or memorial service, before Senate Federal and State Affairs, Room 231-North in the Capitol.

1:30 p.m. Wednesday: Hearing on HB 2615, repealing in-state tuition for certain immigrants, before House Federal and State Affairs Committee, Room 313-South in the Capitol.

9:30 a.m. Thursday: Hearings on bills increasing punishment for cruelty to animals before Senate Judiciary, Room 123-South in the Capitol.

1:30 p.m. Thursday: Hearing on HB 2284, which provides a right to breastfeed in public, before Senate Public Health and Welfare, 231-North in the Capitol.

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