Topeka — House Minority Leader Paul Davis on Friday called for a shortened legislative session, saying Gov. Sam Brownback and his Republican allies are wasting tax dollars and that the 2014 session “has been a circus.”
Brownback and GOP legislative leaders disagreed with Davis, saying there is still plenty of work to be done.
Davis, a Democrat from Lawrence who is challenging Brownback in the November election, said the session should go no longer than 70 days. That would eliminate 20 days from the scheduled 90-day session and save taxpayers $1.3 million, he said.
“The 2014 session has been a circus,” Davis said. “Gov. Brownback and his allies have refused to make our schools, our economy, or job creation their priority this session, so let’s go home,” he said.
Davis noted several bills that have generated national publicity — mostly negative.
Those included a mostly-Republican backed “religious freedom” bill that critics said would allow discrimination against gays, and a Democratic legislator’s failed bill to allow spanking of children hard enough to leave “redness or bruising.”
Brownback’s office said he has called for funding full-day kindergarten, restoring some higher education cuts, and providing a pay increase for some state employees. “It is unfortunate the minority leader of the House of Representatives does not believe these are important enough to address,” said Brownback spokeswoman Sara Belfry.
House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said some legislators have filed bills he would have rather not seen.
But Merrick held a news conference Friday announcing that his focus for the rest of the session would be on legislation that he said would help Kansas businesses.
“The public sent us here to do a job, and that job is not done yet,” Merrick said.
Davis said the Legislature, which has already met for 40 days, could wrap up its business, including restoring cuts made last year to higher education, in the next four weeks.
He said if the Kansas Supreme Court rules on the pending school finance case, legislators could remain in session or, depending on the timing of the decision, come back for a special session.