Quote of the week
“Bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry.”
— Pedro Irigonegaray, counsel for the Kansas Equality Coalition, testifying in favor of a bill that adds protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Not much push to abolish state education boards
A bill to abolish the Kansas Board of Regents and State Board of Education and allow the governor to appoint a secretary of education has been drafted for the Legislature but isn’t getting much traction.
Several attempts have been made to change the Kansas Constitution to do away with the 10-member State Board of Education, but voters have rejected those measures. The education board, which oversees kindergarten through 12th grade, is elected.
The nine-member regents board, which oversees higher education, is appointed by the governor. The regents seem to have a lot of support among legislative leaders.
“I don’t know that I would want them (the Regents) included in that (proposal),” said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton. Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said the status quo is fine with both boards and he was “befuddled” by the proposal to abolish the regents. The measure will receive a hearing before the House Education Committee.
Bill would put leftover inauguration funds to use
Gov. Sam Brownback is pushing for approval of Senate Bill 67, which would allow incoming governors to donate leftover gubernatorial inauguration funds to a charitable organization.
Before taking office, Brownback had said he wanted leftover funds from his inaugural ball, which raised money through ticket sales and cash contributions from supporters, to go to charity. But state law requires that the money go toward the swearing-in ceremony and upkeep of Cedar Crest, the governor’s residence.
“And I believe those who give their financial support to an inauguration would want the residual funds go to an organization whose mission is to assist Kansans in need of a hand up rather than used to supplement the budget of a governmental agency,” Brownback, a Republican, said in written testimony to the Senate Elections Committee.
Sen. Kelly Kultala, D-Kansas City, quipped that maybe Brownback wanted to donate his leftover funds to the Kansas Arts Commission, which Brownback wants to abolish.
Rules proposed for candidate PSAs
The controversy over elected officeholders running public service announcements, which appear to be self-serving, close to an election has been a running dispute over the past couple of election cycles.
Two bills would rein in candidates. Under the measures, neither the candidate, image of the candidate nor the name of the candidate may appear in state agency-sponsored public service announcements or advertisements 60 days prior to the primary or general election in the year his or her name appears on the ballot.
Speaker pushes to prevent filling up state prisons
House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, has cautioned legislators about approving legislation that provides incarceration for nonviolent offenses. There are a multitude of such proposals in the hopper, including providing prison time for identity theft and home improvement fraud. With the state prison system nealy full, O’Neal said he would rather prison space be available for violent offenders than nonviolent ones.
• 3:30 p.m. today: Hearing on House Concurrent Resolution 5006, proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting executive branch or judiciary from directing Legislature on appropriations, before House Judiciary Committee, Room 346-South, Capitol.
• 3:30 p.m. Tuesday: Hearing on House Bill 2254, establishing “covenant” marriages, before House Judiciary Committee, 346-South, Capitol.
• 1:30 p.m. Wednesday: Hearing on House Bill 2249, adding bath salts to controlled substances schedule, before House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, Room 144-South, Capitol.
• 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday: Hearing on House Bill 2218, abortion regulation based on pain to fetus, before House Federal and State Affairs Committee, Room 346-South, Capitol.
• 3:30 p.m. Thursday: Hearing on House Bill 2260, preservation of religious freedom act, before House Judiciary, Room 346-South, Capitol.