Archive for Monday, March 4, 2013

Capitol Report: School finance; Democratic gubernatorial candidate; why Francisco voted for drug testing

March 4, 2013


School finance amendment in detention

Last month, a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the courts from school finance decisions limped out of the Senate with the bare minimum two-thirds majority.

The House hasn't taken it up yet.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said, "We're still working on that. It's in the queue."

A constitutional amendment in the 125-member House would require 84 votes to win approval. So far, Democrats, who oppose the measure, think there are enough votes to block it.

If approved, it would then go before the voters.

Democrat will emerge to challenge Brownback

Democratic leaders in the Legislature say names of possible Democratic challengers to Gov. Sam Brownback won't start surfacing until after the legislative session, which ends in May.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka and House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence say they believe a recent poll that shows Brownback has a low approval rating.

"There is a lot of concern about the direction that the governor is taking the state," Davis said.

Hensley said in his recent re-election campaign in November he did polling about how people in his district felt about Brownback. Hensley said Brownback's approval rating, especially among women, was significantly low.

The election isn't until November 2014, but a Democratic challenger would have to start raising money soon.

The Public Policy Polling survey in Kansas found 52 percent of Kansans disapprove of Brownback's performance, while 37 percent approve. Still, Brownback polled better when matched against six different Democrats.

Explanation of vote on drug testing

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, was the only Democrat to vote for a bill that would require drug testing of those receiving welfare or unemployment benefits if the person is suspected of using illegal drugs.

Francisco said she voted for Senate Bill 149 because the Kansas Department for Children and Families was already conducting drug tests on some recipients, and the proposed bill would put into statute the specific procedures. She also said the legislation emphasizes that the purpose of the drug testing is to provide drug treatment, and that welfare benefits will continue to flow to the children of an adult who tests positive for drug use.

On the same bill, state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, voted present, but passing.

Holland said he felt he could not vote against the bill because he had supported an earlier amendment to the legislation that applies the drug testing rules to legislators. But he said he couldn't support the overall bill on drug testing, calling it an "overreach."

Quote of the week:

"How ironic that we have a bill with freedom in the name that is one more mandate on local government." State Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, on House Bill 2280, requiring schools teach about U.S. history and founding documents during "Celebrate Freedom Week," starting Sept. 17.

What's Next:


10 a.m. — Governor's Task Force on Reducing Childhood Poverty, Board of Regents Conference Room in the Curtis State Office Building.


6:30 p.m. — State Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, will discuss Gov. Sam Brownback's income tax plan, at the Emporia Public Library, 110 E. Sixth St., Emporia.


9 a.m. — Hearing on House Bill 2055, expansion of concealed carry to guns, before House Federal and State Affairs, room 346-South.

1:30 p.m. — Hearing on Sub House Bill 2027, contract negotiations for teachers, before House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee, room 346-South.

1:30 p.m. — Marriage and family presentation before Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, room 118-North.


8:30 a.m. — Perspective on Kansas economy and dynamic budget scoring by Art Hall, before Senate Commerce Committee, room 548-South.

8:30 a.m. — Hearing on Senate Bill 191, repealing certain agriculture corporation statutes, before Senate Natural Resources, room 159-South.

9 a.m. — Hearing on House Bill 2253, abortion restrictions, before House Federal and State Affairs, room 346-South.

1:30 p.m. — Hearing on Senate Bill 196, creating the Kansas public charter school act, before Senate Education Committee, room 144-South.


9 a.m. — Hearing on House Bill 2054, restrictions on adult entertainment, before House Federal and State Affairs, room 346-South.


Bob Forer 4 years ago

What in the heck has Marci accomplished her many years in office?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Mostly damage control-- about all that can be expected in a legislature dominated by nutjobs.

chootspa 4 years ago

Thanks for asking why they voted the way they did, Scott!

Cant_have_it_both_ways 4 years ago

Marci is voting more red all the time. Seems like she is starting to get it. Now we have to get Davis to start thinking about working people.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Marci merely recognizes the quixotic nature of being a sane person serving with a bunch of extremely ideological partisans, and does the best she can to limit the damage then can inflict on the state of Kansas.

msezdsit 4 years ago

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence: Very very very very lame, Marci. If you weren't surrounded by an ocean of nut cases you would not keep getting re elected. Believe me, when I voted for you I was voting against your opponent.

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

Why is the LJ World ignoring National politics with the exception of opinion pieces? The Sequester went into effect last Friday and Washington is on fire over it. It's the biggest piece of political news to come out of DC since the Iraq War over a decade ago and there isn't a peep about it. In fact, the ONLY article about the Sequester was a piece on how it was going to cost KU millions in research funds and that was before it took effect. Does anyone have any idea how that is going to effect Lawrence itself and the economy of the town? Do they care?
I don't expect Pulitzer Prize level in depth analysis. But there IS a whole country out there outside of this town. And what happens in the capitol of the country of that town effects it. I understand that the owner of this paper hates the current president and would prefer to just ignore him. But that doesn't mean there isn't still some journalistic responsibility to actually report the news.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

So my best friend's husband works at Fort Leavenworth. He will be furloughed one day/week. Because of that they are not going to buy the new car the were planning on buying, which means a salesman, a dealership and a car factory will lose money. Oh, and bankers, too.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

Oh, and there has been a hiring freeze. They have been at bare bones for workers for a couple of years. And no raises. So it is a cut.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

In order to be kept informed the LJW is not the one and hasn't been for many decades. Therefore citizens must undertake the responsibility.

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jimmyjms 4 years ago

I'd like to know why Marci voted for SB 142, a truly vile and insane piece of legislation ("Wrongful Birth.").

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

I agree. I really want to know what she was thinking when she voted for it.
I may not live there anymore through circumstances outside of my control but I am the parent of three adult registered voters (with spouses) that still live in the district. I still have a dog in this hunt. They rely on me for information and advice when they vote. They may develop different opinions and vote against my advice; that's their prerogative (and I hope they DO educate themselves). But the fact remains I am a matriarch and I take that responsibility seriously.

valgrlku 4 years ago

This is the email response I received from her in relation to asking why she voted for SB142. Her answers still don't make much sense to me, and I really didn't appreciate her admitting that she was "confused" but still voted in favor. She made it sound like patients wouldn't have access to fetal testing without its passage, which is patently incorrect:

Thank you for letting me know of your concerns and objections to SB 142. I can often respond that I am in agreement with many of those who contact me; in this case I am not clear about the argument that you were making and was conflicted about my vote. I need to let you know that I voted in favor of the bill.

The claim is being made that SB 142 would “allow doctors to purposefully withhold medical information about serious issues with a pregnancy in order to influence their patients’ decisions”. “Claim of wrongful birth” means a cause of action brought by a parent, legal guardian or other individual legally required to provide for the support of a minor, which seeks damages, whether economic or noneconomic, as a result of a physical condition of such minor that existed at the time of such minor’s birth and which is based on a claim that a person’s action or omission contributed to such minor’s mother not obtaining an abortion.” I do not understand how eliminating the right to make this claim changes the obligations of doctors to provide medical information or prevents other civil actions that can be taken against them. Women can still obtain the tests they want to get information about the health and genetic makeup of a fetus prior to making their decisions.

I think that the concept of “wrongful birth” is awkward; I am hopeful that we can find ways to adequately address this issue without using language that is inflammatory to individuals who are against abortion. I think that this bill takes one step towards that.

I have been a consistent supporter of women’s rights, and have spoken out about problems I see with many of the bills dealing with abortion that have been debated in the Kansas Senate. I have stood firm when my vote counted. I will continue to address specific concerns within the bills and present logical arguments and would certainly appreciate any further comments you may have. If you have any suggestions for amendments I would be pleased to share them with legislators in the House.

Marci Francisco Kansas Senator, 2nd District

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

Personally, I think this was the result of a political deal (i.e. "I'll vote for this if you vote for that.") and all of this double speak is an attempt to cover her rear. The only other explanation is that she was confused and had no idea what she was voting on. I have a hard time believing that because it would mean she doesn't even talk to the other people in her own caucus.

Catalano 4 years ago

Where, in her reply, does she say she was "confused"?

Greg Cooper 4 years ago

You type a lot faster than I, valgrlku. I posted this later on today. Not trying to steal your thunder! ;)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

The reason was stated pretty clearly in the article-- namely, the Brownback administration was already conducting such tests, and this law would limit the way any such testing can be done, and make it harder to be used as a punitive measure.

I don't like the law, either, and would prefer that it wasn't there at all. But based on marci's normal operating procedure, there was something to be gained (from a progressive or moderate standpoint) to voting for it rather than against. Quite possibly because she was able to get changes made to the law that made it much less onerous than it might otherwise have been.

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

I'm guessing this isn't about the "wrongful birth" legislation.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

No-- that isn't mentioned in the article, so not sure why it was brought up in this thread.

Greg Cooper 4 years ago

OK, here's what she told me in an email, in which I sent her my name on the petition to stop SB 142. It's long, it's convoluted, and it's very hard to understand that a Democrat could take this tack.

"The claim is being made that SB 142 wiukd "allow doctors t purposefully withhold medical information about seerious issues with a pregnancy in order to influence their patients' decisions." "Claim of wrongful birth means a couse of action brought by a parent, legal guardian or other individual legally required to provide for the support of a minor, which seeks damages, whether economic or non-economic, as a result of a physical condition of such minor that existed at the time of such minor's birth and which is based on a claim that a person's actions or omission contributed to such minor's mother not obtaining an abortion." I do not understand how eliminating the right to make this claim changes the obligation of doctors to provide medical information or prevents other actions that can be taken against them. Women can still obtain the tests they want to get information about the health and genetis makeup of a fetus prior to making their decisions.

"I think that the concept of "wrongful death" is awkward; I am hopeful we can find ways to adequately address this issue without using language that is inflammatory to individuals who are against abortion. I think that this takes one step toward that.

"...I have stood firm when my vote counted..."

Ok, that's her explanation. I'll leave it to your to shred these arguments. As for myself, I may have a difficult time voting for her in the future. With this vote she seems, to me, to have abandoned the ideals which got her to her position in the first place.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

So, you're in favor of unreasonable searches?

elliottaw 4 years ago

as long as they can have their guns screw the other amendments in the bill of rights

Shelley Bock 4 years ago

Then, let's test all others who receive business assistance and support such as farm assistance, grants of all types or deduction, loopholes from their taxes. (Granted, much of this is federal.) While we're at it, let's just test the entire population! Let's destroy all chance of freedom to be stupid and use drugs!

Where's the freedom to screw up? Where's small government? Let's support your interpretation of the Bill of Rights and take away all other freedoms that you don't like.

skull 4 years ago

Beside the fact that it costs a lot of money we already don't have...there is one provision about illegal searches and seizures in the constitution right?

skull 4 years ago

Well, my take on it is that when you enter an employment contract, you are agreeing to do a job (to the best of your ability) for a determined amount of pay. That being said, the employer would be responsible for any physical harm you may do to yourself and/or others on the job. I believe pre-employment drug tests to be more about liability than employment. Drug testing anyone who has had the priviledge of being laid off or can't find a job that pays more than $7.25 an hour seems a little punitive. Assuming they are more likely to be drug abusers would seem to be stereotypical profiling. Spending more money on testing them would also be a waste of already stretched resources. That's just my take. See cait's response below.

Liberty275 4 years ago

If you otherwise qualify for a government benefit, then it is the government's responsibility to provide that benefit. An employer has no responsibility to provide a job even if you are qualified.

If the government has a responsibility, then it must meet that responsibility. In order to meet that responsibility (welfare or whatever) a person must apply. Searching a person because they apply for a benefit the government is otherwise obliged to furnish is patently illegal as applying for a benefit is not sufficient probable cause for a search.

Also, it is a violation of a person's right to not incriminate themselves. While not a criminal punishment, basing any government action such as not providing benefits otherwise qualified for on the citizen's refusal to be tested without a warrant violates 5A.

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

I'm not sure what you are saying. Your wording is a bit wonky with the double negatives. But I can tell you that statistically they won't. When Florida was doing across the board testing of all applicants, they had a failure rate of just over 2%. The vast majority of those that did test positive were for marijuana. When the state worked out the cost of testing, it was determined that it cost the state over $40,000 per positive test (cost of total number of tests divided by number of positive tests). Given that each one of those test failures would have received, at best, around $6,000/year in state funds it wasn't exactly "cost effective".
I don't have it bookmarked but there was a huge article in the Tampa Bay Times about it. It's worth a Google search.
To quote my nephew, "It's one of those things that looks good on paper to those people that think the poor are the enemy." Wise boy.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

While being poor is not illegal, receiving government benefits is not a "right" either, not in the traditional sense. Not like speech, religion, press, etc. It's more like operating a motor vehicle, a privilege, one that can have reasonable conditions attached to it. The question then becomes what is reasonable? That is something for the courts to decide and while courts have already made certain decisions, we all know that A) courts change their minds from time to time, B) different courts rule differently, even when the facts are the same and C) the legislative branch is well within their rights to seek legal loopholes in any court decision.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

The answer to your questions are a definitive, maybe.

Tuition assistance - To those previously convicted of violent felonies? To those who cheated while in high school? To those dishonorably discharged from the military? A definitive maybe, if you ask me. But I'd have no problem denying those people tuition assistance.

Social Security - To those previously convicted of cheating in order to get benefits? Maybe. Wasn't there a story just a couple of days ago, I believe out of Leavenworth, of a woman who cheated to get disability and was convicted of a crime. Shall she be denied Social Security? Maybe. Violent felons? Career criminals? I'd have no problem denying Social Security to those people.

Medicare - The same. People who have defrauded the government in the past denied future benefits? Maybe. Again, I'd have no problem placing significant and additional restrictions upon those individuals.

This isn't like speech, where we have to tolerate fools and idiots. This isn't like religion. We're not talking about freedom of the press. In my opinion, it is much more like driving a car. That privilege has conditions placed upon it. As long as the courts rule they are reasonable, I'm fine with it.

tolawdjk 4 years ago

However, every one of those you have listed would not violate anyone's 4th amendment rights by restricting access. Defrauded, convicted, felon...everone one of those examples have had due process.

Here we are talking about forcing someone to undergo government testing just to prove they are innocent. Zero due process and an implication of guilt.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Restricting access to what, becomes the big question. If it was to a "right", like speech or religion, I would agree with you wholeheartedly. But we're not talking about that. Each person when asked to submit to the drug testing can simply refuse and walk away.

Liberty275 4 years ago

"While being poor is not illegal, receiving government benefits is not a "right" either"

If you qualify for a benefit the same as other applicants, it is a violation of the 14th amendment to deprive you of that benefit. It is not a right, but if you are going to deprive the crackheads of a benefit, you have to deprive everyone.

progressive_thinker 4 years ago

Some [not all] who object to the proposed Kansas law to drug test welfare recipients is that they do not understand that the Kansas law currently under debate does not call for all who apply and/or receive benefits to be drug tested. The proposed Kansas law is much more narrow, and only applies where there is "reasonable suspicion" of drug abuse. "Reasonable suspicion" testing is targeted to those cases where there are specific and articulable facts and evidence, followed with rational inferences from those facts, that suggest that substance abuse is present. In other words, before a recipient or applicant is required to take a drug test, government officials will have to document a really good reason that justifies said testing for that specific case. This pretty much overcomes any argument of an "unreasonable search."

The Florida law which is failing in the courts required testing of all applicants and recipients. Because there was no showing that all persons receiving assistance from the state were at any particular risk of substance abuse, there was no particular justification for the blanket search [drug test] policy.

Liberty275 4 years ago

A search requires probable cause, not reasonable suspicion.

progressive_thinker 4 years ago

In the case of criminal proceedings, you are correct. In the case of administrative action [such as denial of a benefit] probable cause is not the standard. For example, O'Connor v. Ortega allows the search of government employees with reasonable suspicion, as long as no criminal prosecution is contemplated.

jafs 4 years ago

That's a very complex and interesting case.

First, it was a 5-4 decision by the SC, reflecting serious disagreement among the justices. Then, even though it established some sort of guidelines, it couldn't apply them to Ortega, and kicked his case back down to lower courts. Litigation continued for many years, and he eventually prevailed.

When the chance came for the SC to clarify the issue with another case, they refused to do so.

progressive_thinker 4 years ago

Yes, and it is. There are other examples of searches where the "reasonable suspicion" standard applies, again in non-criminal matters. Search of the belongings of a student is permitted with reasonable suspicion. [See New Jersey v. T. L. O.]

jafs 4 years ago

That's a scary case for me.

First, the students were allowed to smoke, just not in the bathroom. Next, they were caught by a teacher in the act, so there was no real need to search the purse.

The 4th amendment doesn't say protection against unreasonable searches and seizures for criminal matters, but not for civil ones. And, we had a long history of requiring "probable cause" and warrants for searches.

It seems clear to me that the intention of the 4th amendment was to limit governmental power - weakening those protections defies the intent of the founders.

Did you notice the part where Ortega won his case? That suggests that the actions of his employer violated his rights.

progressive_thinker 4 years ago

Yes, TLO is a strange case. In the early 80's, some schools did have student smoking lounges.

"The 4th amendment doesn't say protection against unreasonable searches and seizures for criminal matters, but not for civil ones." I agree with this statement. The question at hand has to do with the word "unreasonable."

As it stands, to my understanding, what is unreasonable in a criminal matter is different from what is unreasonable in noncriminal matters.

Liberty275 4 years ago

The Constitution is not vague about this. It say's all searches require probable cause.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

jafs 4 years ago

Actually, I'm not sure that's as definitive as you think.

It's warrants that require probable cause. Much of the weakening of 4th amendment protections has involved "warrantless" searches that are deemed to be reasonable.

Very unfortunate, in my view.

hipper_than_hip 4 years ago

What would be the difference between an employment contract where random testing is mandatory, and a contract with a benefit recipient that makes random testing mandatory?

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

The party of big government while boasting to be for less government just put more big government in the lives of many.

Oh yes about the other big government and since some have inquired.

Petition 20% Pay Cut for Congress - NO Golden Parachutes for Mismanagement

The 32 Dumbest And Most Devastating Sequester Cuts

tomatogrower 4 years ago

I'm not totally against this bill, since they can only be tested if there is a suspicion. They aren't going to test every single person on welfare, which Florida did, and spent a whole lot of money.

jafs 4 years ago

If you replace "suspicion" with "probable cause" I'd be happier.

Meatwad 4 years ago

I agree with and support Marci's vote on this issue, and I'm a Marci supporter already.

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