News from the Kansas Statehouse compiled by Scott Rothschild.
House Bill 2512 ( .PDF )
Quote of the week
“Eleven hundred questions by the possible bidders to a 170-page RFP (request for proposal) show that even the professionals don’t understand what is being suggested, let alone the providers of Medicaid services and those receiving those services.”
— Sen. Dick Kelsey R-Goddard, on Gov. Brownback administration’s request for proposals from bidders on privatizing Medicaid.
Consumer alert issued on natural gas bill
A public hearing will be held today before the House Energy and Utilities Committee on legislation that would allow natural gas utilities to collect increases from customers before the Kansas Corporations Commission has approved the requested increase.
The Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board has issued a consumer alert on this bill.
Currently, if a utility wants a rate increase, it files the request with the KCC, which has up to 240 days to review the request and issue a decision.
Under House Bill 2512, a natural gas utility would be allowed to charge customers the requested rate increase starting 30 days after the utility files the request with the KCC. If the KCC approves a smaller increase than the utility requested, the utility must refund to customers the difference plus interest.
David Springe, consumer counsel for CURB, said this bill would force consumers to essentially make a loan to the utility
Death penalty opponents urged to call governor
The Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty has declared today as “Kansas Abolition Day” and is urging people opposed to the death penalty to call Gov. Sam Brownback today and ask him to take a stand against the death penalty.
On Jan. 30, 1907, Kansas became one of the first states to repeal the death penalty. It was reinstated in 1935. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty but four years later said states could reinstate capital punishment under certain rules. Kansas brought back the death penalty in 1994, but no one has been executed under that law.
KCADP argues the death penalty doesn’t make Kansas safer and diverts money from other public safety areas.
Rep. Gregory proposes Capitol landscaping
State Rep. TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, says she has an idea to save the state some money on the Capitol renovation project, which has been plagued with cost overruns and is now past the $300 million mark.
She wants to combine the voluntary resources of service clubs and master gardeners to restore the north lawn of the Capitol.
Currently, the north side of the Capitol is a construction area and parking lot for workers. Once the restoration project is completed, the north side of the Capitol will be the major entrance for visitors.
The grounds of the Capitol, Gregory said, could be used to showcase Kansas plants, trees and flowers. Gregory said several service clubs have expressed an interest about the proposal.
‘Eggs and Issues’ on the menu
The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce will host its first “Eggs and Issues” breakfast this year from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the Crystal Ballroom of the Eldridge Hotel.
Douglas County legislators will be on hand to discuss what is going on at the Statehouse during the legislative session.
The event is open to the public. Tickets are $15 for Chamber members and $20 for nonmembers, and may be purchased online at lawrencechamber.com until noon Friday.
The second “Eggs and Issues” breakfast is scheduled for March 3.
9 a.m. today — Presentation on food stamp policy by Michelle Schroeder, director of public policy for Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, before House Appropriations Committee, Room 346-South Capitol.
9 a.m. today — Hearing on HB 2512, allowing natural gas utilities to charge interim rates, before House Energy and Utilities Committee, Room 785 Docking Office Building.
9 a.m. today — Hearing on HB 2411, requiring Kansas Public Employees Retirement System to divest investment in Iran, before House Pensions and Benefits Committee, Room 142-South Capitol.
Noon today — Possible vote on proposed congressional redistricting map, before Senate Redistricting Committee, Room 159-South Capitol.
1:30 p.m. today and Tuesday — Hearings on bills concerning school bullying, before Senate Education Committee, Room 152-South Capitol
3:30 p.m. today — Hearing on HB 2454, establishing income tax checkoff for Kansas Arts Commission, before House Taxation Committee, Room 783 Docking Office Building.
9 a.m. Tuesday — Presentations on hydraulic fracking, before House Energy and Utilities Committee, Room 785 Docking Office Building.
10:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday — Hearings on bills to expand gambling before Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, Room 144-South Capitol.
9 a.m. Wednesday — Hearing on HB 2437, requiring proof of citizenship to vote, before House Elections Committee, Room 546-South Capitol.
9:30 a.m. Wednesday — Hearing on HB 2087, prohibiting court or administrative rulings based on any law not in accordance with United States and Kansas constitutions, Room 548-South Capitol.
9:30 a.m. Wednesday — Hearing on SB 309, requiring identification of sponsor of political ads, before Senate Ethics and Elections, Room 159-South Capitol.
10:30 a.m. Thursday — Hearing on HB 2340, removing casino exemption from smoking ban, before Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, Room 144-South Capitol.