Remedial education, school tax credits in House
Two major policy changes in education may be debated in the House today.
House Bill 2745, championed by House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, would stop state funding of remedial education courses at Kansas University and other universities.
KU offers one remedial course, intermediate algebra, which has an average of 900 students each fall. KU officials say many of those enrolled are returning to college after a break of several years, military students or others starting a second career.
The other measure before the full House is HB 2767, called the Kansas Education Liberty Program Act. It is being pushed by state Rep. Clay Aurand, R-Courtland, who is the chairman of the House Education Committee.
This would give tax credits to those who contribute to a scholarship fund to pay for students to attend private or parochial schools. Aurand says this would give some parents more choice in finding schools that best fit the needs of their children. Critics say the bill amounts to tax support of religious schools.
Brownback mum on KU Med Center, abortion issue
Gov. Sam Brownback refused to say where he stood over legislative efforts aimed at stopping Kansas University Medical Center medical residents in obstetrics-gynecology from training in abortion-related procedures.
“I’m studying the issue,” Brownback said at a news conference.
Abortion rights advocates, and even some legislators who have opposed abortion, say the medical residents need the training to maintain KU’s accreditation and to be able to handle emergency pregnancies. But anti-abortion advocates disagree.
Brownback has signed into law several anti-abortion measures and has welcomed the Legislature’s work in this area.
Quote of the week
“This bill would send our state to hell in a handbasket.”
— Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, on a Senate-approved bill that cuts billions of dollars in taxes, including personal income tax rates and sales taxes, and eliminates taxes on nonwage income for nearly 200,000 businesses.
A.G. to hear health care arguments
Attorney General Derek Schmidt will travel to Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Supreme Court arguments about the federal health care law.
“This is a landmark case,” Schmidt said. “The outcome of this lawsuit could tell us if there are any remaining limits on the power of the federal government over states and individual citizens.”
Schmidt, a Republican, said he will meet daily with attorneys general from other plaintiff states and with the states’ attorneys arguing the case. He will be in the courtroom Wednesday when the court hears arguments about the Medicaid expansion provisions in the law.
Schmidt’s office said he is paying for the trip with personal funds.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement is representing the states. Kansas Solicitor General Steve McAllister helped Clement prepare for the arguments.
Most legislative action this week will be in conference committees and on the floor of the House and Senate as the Legislature pushes toward first adjournment.