Quote of the week
“It’s really unique, the legislative process, as you well know. It’s one of those that gets into your bloodstream … or you run screaming from the building.”
— Alan Conroy, in remarks to legislators as he was leaving as director of Kansas Legislative Research Department, where he has worked since 1983, to become executive director of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.
Immigration debate returns to Kansas
Bills dealing with illegal immigration, including one almost identical to Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, which was drafted by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and has drawn national attention, will be considered this week.
House Bills 2492, 2576, 2577 and 2578 will be heard before the House Federal and State Affairs Committee at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Room 346-South in the Statehouse.
HB 2578 would require: “Upon any lawful stop, detention, or arrest made by a state, county or city law enforcement officer of this state in the enforcement of any state law or ordinance of a city or county of this state, where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the citizenship and immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.”
SB 1070 has essentially the same language and critics of the law say it will result in racial profiling. That part of the law has been blocked in federal court and appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in the case in April.
Audit finds potential savings in Kan-ed
A state audit says there are significant savings that could be realized in Kan-ed, a broadband technology network for schools, libraries and hospitals.
Last year, Kan-ed was under fire from some legislators, who said the network had overreached its mission. Kan-ed funding was cut from $10 million to $6 million.
Now, a report from Legislative Post Audit says more could be cut.
The audit says 57 percent of Kan-ed network connections could be replaced with less expensive commercial Internet connections or disconnected completely. That would save $2 million per year, the audit says.
The audit also found that Kan-ed spent $2.4 million on databases and software services in the last fiscal year, but providing content was not part of Kan-ed’s mission under state law.
Several legislative committees have been reviewing the audit to determine what to do next.
Redistricting rumor surfaces
Probably no subject more than redistricting produces questions about the political motives of elected officials who are drawing the boundaries that determine which voters will reside in which districts.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said a rumor behind a congressional redistricting plan that would have split Topeka between the 1st and 2nd U.S. House districts was that Gov. Sam Brownback’s Chief of Staff David Kensinger, who resides in Topeka, wanted to run in the Republican Party primary against U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who represents the 1st. Kensinger said there was no truth to the rumor. That proposed map failed in a Senate vote.
Managing snow and ice costly
Although there hasn’t been much snow this winter, the Kansas Department of Transportation devotes a lot of resources to clearing roadways.
During an average winter, KDOT uses 4 million gallons of salt brine, 103,000 tons of salt and 574 snow plows on the state’s 10,000-mile system. Acting Transportation Secretary Barbara Rankin says keeping traffic moving is an essential part of the economy. On a typical February weekday, more than $175 million in goods and commuters earning $30 million in daily wages, are on Kansas roads.
A report called “Managing Snow and Ice” is on KDOT’s website at ksdot.org.
3:30 p.m. Tuesday: Hearing on House Bill 2260, which would prohibit government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, before House Judiciary Committee, Room 346-South, Capitol.