Topeka — The Senate on Thursday approved a bill requiring drug testing for recipients of welfare and unemployment benefits—and even legislators—who are suspected of drug use.
The 31-8 vote sends Senate Bill 149 to the House for consideration.
Republicans said the proposal would prevent tax dollars from being spent on illegal drugs while also providing treatment to people for drug addictions. But several Democrats said the measure was a mean-spirited slam against low-income Kansans.
State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, was the only Democrat who voted for the bill. State Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, voted present, but passing on the measure.
State legislators churned through scores of bills as they neared a key deadline called "turnaround" when most bills have to be approved by one chamber or the other to stay alive.
Here are some of the highlights:
— The Senate approved a bill that would establish an adult stem cell research center at Kansas University Medical Center.
Senate Bill 199, which would create the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, would prohibit the center from using embryonic stem cells or cells taken from aborted fetal tissue. Abortion opponents oppose human embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of the embryo.
Under the proposal, KU would appoint a director of the center who would be responsible for oversight of patient treatment and research with adult, cord blood and other non-embryonic stem cells.
Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said said stem cells taken from an umbilical cord saved the life of her son Paul.
His leukemia had reappeared in 2006, and Wagle searched and found a blood match from an umbilical cord bank.
She told the story on the Senate floor Thursday in urging her colleagues to approve the bill.
— The Senate approved legislation that abortion rights supporters say will allow doctors to lie to pregnant women.
Senate Bill 142 bans civil actions for a claim of so-called "wrongful life" or "wrongful birth."
Abortion rights advocates say the bill would shield a doctor from a lawsuit who discovers a prenatal problem and withholds that information from the pregnant woman if he or she thinks the information may persuade the woman to have an abortion.
But supporters of the bill said a doctor who lies to a patient would still be liable for medical malpractice and possible violations of standards set by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, said the legislation, supported by Kansans for Life, would prohibit parents from filing lawsuits where they want to be compensated for not aborting their child. The measure was approved by the Senate, 34-5, and now goes to the House for consideration.
— A controversial bill repealing in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants was absent from the legislative calendar.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach promised action on immigration at the start of the 2013 legislative session, but thus far immigration measures have remained on a backburner.
One of the measures repeals a law narrowly passed in 2004 under then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. The law requires colleges and universities to bill in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants. House Bill 2192 would repeal that law.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, said the bill has a “decent” chance of being heard in committee but a hearing is not scheduled. Nearly identical bills have failed in the past.
— The House voted 63-59 to return to committee a bill that would have repealed a requirement that utilities generate 20 percent of their electricity from wind and other renewable energy sources.
— The House advanced on a preliminary vote, 68-54, changing the way Kansas Court of Appeals judges are selected. Currently, a nomination commission picks three candidates from which the governor selects one. Under House Bill 2019, the governor would select the judge with confirmation of the Senate.
Scott Rothschild, Raelean Finch, Nikki Wentling, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.