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Archive for Sunday, April 6, 2014

Kansas Senate Democrat complains of ‘possible open meetings violation,’ will ask DA to investigate

April 6, 2014

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— Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said Sunday he plans to ask the local district attorney to investigate whether Republican leaders broke the law by calling an unscheduled conference committee meeting at 3 a.m. to negotiate a school finance package.

"I'm going to send a letter to the Shawnee County District Attorney asking him to investigate for a possible open meetings violation," Hensley said.

Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, alleged Sunday that Republican leaders violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by calling a conference committee meeting on school finance around 3 a.m. with almost no notice. Hensley is part of the Senate negotiating team that also includes Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, and Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita.

Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, alleged Sunday that Republican leaders violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by calling a conference committee meeting on school finance around 3 a.m. with almost no notice. Hensley is part of the Senate negotiating team that also includes Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, and Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita.

He made that announcement following an odd sequence of events that started around 1 a.m. when the House rejected the first conference committee bill on school finance.

About an hour later, budget negotiators for the House and Senate met again and quickly agreed to send a second bill to the floor of both chambers. The second bill was slightly different from the first.

Although it still contained additional money for poor school districts to satisfy a recent Supreme Court ruling, it included more money for local option budgets across the board, and it dropped a provision authorizing property tax credits for real estate owners who send their children to private or parochial schools.

But it still contained a provision to get rid of teacher tenure in Kansas, an issue that had drawn hundreds of teachers to the statehouse and who had vowed to remain there as long as lawmakers kept meeting.

With that tentative agreement, the Senate announced it would recess until 6 a.m. Sunday, at which time they hoped to have the new bill printed. The House had recessed until 10:30 a.m. Sunday. At that point, many of the teachers, as well as some news reporters and most lobbyists, left the building with plans to return by 6 a.m. Hensley himself was among those who left.

Then, at some point shortly after that, Republican leaders hurriedly called another conference committee meeting to work further on the bill.

Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, who is part of the Senate negotiating team, said an announcement was made on the House floor. And he said notices were posted on bulletin boards outside both chambers. And when asked whether the news media had been notified, Denning said he believed they were.

"They've been with us almost the whole entire time, so I'm positive they were aware of it," Denning said.

But Hensley said no announcement was ever made on the floor of the Senate, which had adjourned for the evening, and no notice was ever posted on the Senate's bulletin board.

Hensley said he was contacted by a member of his staff and was told to come back to the Capitol to work on the bill.

Afterwards, Hensley refused to sign the new conference committee report, a move that forced the legislature to go through extra procedural steps so the House and Senate could debate a conference report that had not been signed by all six members of the conference panel.

The Senate plans to vote on that bill Sunday afternoon. If it passes there, it will go to the House later Sunday evening.

Comments

Richard Heckler 4 months, 3 weeks ago

It seems to me ALEC would be in violation of the open meetings act considering legislators attend those secret closed door sessions that design legislation.

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4 months, 3 weeks ago

Richard, educate yourself, the open meetings act doesn't apply to ALEC.

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James Howlette 4 months, 3 weeks ago

If it did, they'd have already introduced model legislation to make sure it didn't.

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Steve King 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Point is Brock, they are cheaters.

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4 months, 3 weeks ago

May be, but that is no excuse for not understanding the law when posting. The truth will set you free, but it ignorant will keep you in chains.

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Thomas Bryce 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Ignorance means you just don't know any better. What the the Legislature just did here is Sheer Stupidity. And that means they Cannot Learn from their mistakes. Stupidity can't be cured. Ignorance Can. But, it takes Education which the Republicans are bent on destroying. It is obvious where the Problem in Kansas Lies. The Republican Dominated Legislature in Kansas owns this State, but they also Own All the Outcomes as well and will be held accountable for them. As voters, we must use the only Tool we have to address this. VOTE!

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Steve King 4 months, 3 weeks ago

They just lost the vote of every teacher and their friends and family.

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Frank McGuinness 4 months, 3 weeks ago

No they didn't Steve. Did you just move to Kansas? Tell me when the was the last time you remember a democratic controlled Legislature or Senate? I think you are giving more credit to Kansans as friends and family then they likely deserve.

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Kevin Elliott 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Dems were in the majority in the house in 1991, but the senate hasn't been held since 1917

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