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Archive for Sunday, March 6, 2011

Capitol briefing: News from the Kansas Statehouse

March 6, 2011

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KPERS bills to be heard

The House Pensions and Benefits Committee will continue hearing a wide range of bills concerning the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

The committee will hear House Bill 2311 and House Bill 2333 at 9 a.m. Monday in room 142-South in the Capitol.

Under 2311, the state would set up a 401(k)-type plan for employees hired after July 1, 2013. Under 2333, it would gradually increase the points — combination of age and service — required for retirement from 85 to 95.

KPERS has a $7.7 billion gap between the value of its assets and future obligations. Gov. Sam Brownback has said fixing the long-term funding problems is one of his top priorities. KPERS officials have said that current benefits to retirees are safe.

Quote of the week

"Ever since the 2005 school finance lawsuit, I have seen a consistent anti-education sentiment from the right wing of the Republican Party.”

— House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence

Death penalty repeal pending in committee

Sister Helen Prejean, a nationally recognized opponent of the death penalty, was in the Capitol last week urging repeal of the death penalty in Kansas.

Last year, the Kansas Senate fell one vote short of approving a bill to abolish the death penalty. This year, House Bill 2323, pending in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, would do away with the death penalty and provide a life-without-parole sentence for murders committed after July 1.

Federal and State Affairs Chairman Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Bel Aire, said he hasn't decided whether to have a hearing on the measure. “It's not on my short list,” he said.

Senate leaders cool to voter ID bill

Senate Republican leaders said there is broad support to require a photo ID to vote, but not so much for other provisions of a bill that is being pushed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican.

In addition to voter ID, Kobach's bill, which the House already has approved, would require proof of citizenship to register to vote, and give the secretary of state's office power to prosecute allegations of election fraud.

“It would be very unusual for us to give the secretary of state law-enforcement powers,” said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.

Redistricting process starts

Now that new Census figures have been released, legislators will start the job of redrawing boundaries for congressional and legislative districts.

Democrats, who are vastly outnumbered in the Legislature, are touting the idea of having a nonpartisan commission make the district maps and the Legislature would have an up or down vote on the product.

But Republicans, even those who have supported the proposal in the past, say such a plan couldn't be approved right before the Legislature starts the redistricting process.

KCKCC would teach hybrid-electric repair

Kansas City Kansas Community College would start a new program to teach auto technicians on how to repair hybrid-electric vehicles this fall under a proposal before the Kansas Board of Regents.

The demand for training in hybrid- and electric-vehicle maintenance is increasing as more of these kinds of cars are sold, college officials said. The proposal will be before the regents later this month.

What's next

9:30 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, hearing on House Bill 2067, requiring photo ID to vote and proof of citizenship to register, before Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, room 159-South, Capitol.

Noon Wednesday, Kansas University and other regents schools' presentations to Senate Ways and Means Subcommittee on Higher Education, room 548-South, Capitol.

Comments

notanota 3 years, 7 months ago

How about we wait until after the economy recovers to push through a plan to make a "long term fix" to KPERS? My guess is that the gap we're seeing is because of fiscal mismanagement at the statehouse and not going to look so bleak when we're out of the recession.

But then, you wouldn't get to screw over the retired teachers and other public employees who elected to take lower incomes for deferred compensation.

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