Lawrence is the ball in redistricting pingpong
Democratic-voting Lawrence is getting batted back-and-forth in the congressional redistricting battle being waged by the Republican-dominated Legislature.
Split 10 years ago between the 2nd and 3rd U.S. House districts, Lawrence would rest entirely in the 2nd under a bipartisan plan approved by the state Senate. Problem is, the Kansas Republican Party, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican who represents the 2nd, don’t like that plan.
House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, has a plan that would put Lawrence entirely in the 3rd, but it has generated a lot of opposition because it would place most of another Democratic voting county, Wyandotte, in the 1st.
State Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, has a plan that would put Lawrence in the 1st, tying it to the mostly rural western Kansas district.
House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence has a plan dubbed “Free Willie” that puts Manhattan in the 2nd along with Lawrence. It was named after Kansas State University’s mascot, Willie the Wildcat. Manhattan, currently in the 2nd, was placed in the 1st under the Senate-approved map.
Bill would probably raise litigation costs
A fiscal note attached to House Bill 2260, the “Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” says the measure, if enacted, would probably increase litigation costs for the state and cities.
The bill has been touted by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration as a way to prevent the government from infringing on personal religious beliefs.
But a number of advocacy groups say it will lead to the invalidation of local ordinances set up to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. Lawrence officials have testified against the bill.
The fiscal note from Steve Anderson, director of the budget, notes that the attorney general’s office, Office of Judicial Administration and League of Kansas Municipalities say the bill could increase litigation. The attorney general’s office says the legal expenses could exceed $100,000, while the other groups say they can’t predict the number of additional court cases that could arise.
A vote on the measure, which was introduced by Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, could occur today in Kinzer’s House Judiciary Committee.
Quote of the week
“Victims of domestic violence will not call the police if they are afraid of the police.”
— Angela Ferguson, immigration attorney, testifying against a bill that would require police to check citizenship status of people they stop and suspect of being an illegal immigrant.
Guns on campus vote likely this week
A measure strongly opposed by higher education officials will probably be debated this week in the Kansas House.
House Bill 2353 would allow concealed-carry license holders to bring their weapons on college campuses and other public buildings.
Gun-rights advocates say the measure will increase safety, but campus police departments, representatives of local governments and other public officials say just the opposite is true.
In testimony to the Legislature, Richard Johnson, chief of university police at Kansas University Medical Center, said he feared what would happen if police responded to a situation where several people had drawn weapons.
Johnson stated: “We are particularly concerned with being able to distinguish the ‘good guys’ from the ‘bad guys.’ A person with a concealed-carry license doesn’t have a badge or uniform. How does a responding police officer know which person with the gun is the threat?”
Brownback agenda slowing down
As the Legislature comes to the halfway point of the 2012 session this week, Senate leaders have said Gov. Sam Brownback’s agenda has slowed down.
Brownback’s proposed overhauls to the tax system and school finance formula simply need more scrutiny, they said. In addition, they said the Legislature needs to move cautiously on proposed changes to the public pension system.
This is “turnaround” week, when most bills must clear their house of origin.
- 9 a.m. today: Discussion on House Bill 2545, enacting the Kansas public employee retirement system act of 2014, before House Pensions and Benefits, Room 142-South, Capitol.
- 1:30 p.m. today: Final action on House Bill 2598, creating the no taxpayer funding for abortion act, before House Federal and State Affairs, Room 346-South, Capitol.
- 1:30 p.m. today and Tuesday: Working on Gov. Sam Brownback’s school finance plan, before Senate Education Committee, Room 152-South, Capitol.
- 3:30 p.m. today: Hearing on House Bill 2652, granting in-state tuition to military veterans, before House Education Budget, Room 159-South, Capitol.