Topeka While the main business of the Legislature will be writing a budget for the next fiscal year, there are still many other issues that will be debated.
Here is a summary of some of those.
• A proposal to repeal the state’s death penalty. Supporters of the repeal say the death penalty hasn’t worked as a punishment, and is much more costly because of the additional legal procedures needed to litigate a capital murder case. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1994, there have been no executions as appeals and challenges to the law continue.
• Gov. Mark Parkinson has said he will push for a statewide ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces. He has also indicated he will seek an increase in the state cigarette tax, which is currently 79 cents per pack while the national average is $1.37 per pack.
• A bill to ban text-messaging while driving will be introduced.
• A ban on unwanted robo-calls will be filed.
• A special committee has forwarded two options to the Legislature to increase taxes to fund a new transportation plan. One plan would apply to the state sales tax on motor fuel purchases, while lowering the per gallon tax by 5 cents; while the other plan would increase the per gallon tax by 7 cents and then bump it up to follow the Consumer Price Index.
• Kansas still has time to cash in on $11 million in highway funds from the federal government, and save lives, according to experts, if it enacts a primary seatbelt law, which allows law enforcement to ticket for not wearing a seat belt when there is no other traffic offense.
• Anti-abortion legislators will push for further restrictions on late-term abortions and a measure to block federal funds going to Planned Parenthood.
• A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at removing Kansas from the reach of federal health care reform will be introduced.
• Increasing the maximum fine for defrauding a veteran or family of deployed military personnel will be proposed.
• Increased prison time for people who commit felonies while wearing body armor will be proposed.
• Proposals have been unveiled that would require the state to set aside tax funds during flush times to use in dire financial times.
• Changing the way appellate judges are selected will be proposed.