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Archive for Monday, March 13, 2006

Capitol Briefing

News from the Kansas Statehouse

March 13, 2006

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At-risk may be at risk

A major part of the school finance formula provides more funds to districts based on how many students are categorized as at-risk of failing school. This number is determined by how many students qualify for free lunches.

But with efforts under way to significantly increase at-risk funding, there is a debate as to whether the free lunch criterion is the best way to measure the number of at-risk students.

State Rep. Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, argued that the Blue Valley school district had 4,200 students who failed to reach proficiency on statewide tests, and only 300 of those were at-risk. He said under the school finance formula, the remaining 3,900 students attract no at-risk funding. "I think that's a real inequity," he said.

But Rep. Kathe Decker, R-Clay Center, and chairwoman of the House Education Committee, said basing at-risk on poverty has stood the test of time.

"The Legislature has looked at it over and over again and we do it exactly the way we do it," she said.

Not germane

State Rep. Geraldine Flaharty, D-Wichita, tried to add her bill aimed at making Wal-Mart spend more on its employees' health insurance to another insurance bill. But Flaharty's proposal was ruled not germane to the underlying bill and so there was no vote in the House.

Rep. Mary Pilcher Cook, R-Shawnee, also had a germane call go against her as she tried to amend a bill that would have required the state to gather information about how to save umbilical cords.

Quote of the week

It's a simple bill with a few moving parts, which has a slippery slope that lands in a level playing field."

- State Rep. David Huff, R-Lenexa, employing several cliches to introduce his bill that would remove the state sales tax on car rebates. The measure was approved by the House.

Things to watch

¢ 9:30 a.m. Monday before Senate Judiciary Committee: Hearing on bill prohibiting unrelated guardians from having financial conflicts of interest, Room 123-South, Capitol.

¢ 9:30 a.m. Tuesday before Senate Judiciary Committee: votes on eminent domain bills, Room 123-South, Capitol.

¢ 10:30 a.m. Tuesday before Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee: possible vote on casino gambling bill, Room 231-North, Capitol.

¢ 9 a.m. Wednesday before House Appropriations Committee: hearing on resolution urging academic freedom at public universities, Room 514-South, Capitol.

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