Archive for Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The latest from the Legislature: Kansas GOP lawmakers say court ruling was political

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, February 2014.

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, February 2014.

June 1, 2016, 8:50 a.m. Updated June 1, 2016, 3:24 p.m.

Advertisement

— The latest on the Kansas Legislature (all times local):

6:35 p.m.

Gov. Sam Brownback isn’t saying yet whether he’ll call the Kansas Legislature into special session to respond to a recent state Supreme Court order on public schools.

The Republican governor said Wednesday after lawmakers adjourned their annual session that he will work with their leaders and Attorney General Derek Schmidt to respond “aggressively” to any action by the court to close the state’s schools.

The court on Friday rejected education funding changes made earlier this year by lawmakers. It warned that schools will be unable to reopen after June 30 if lawmakers don’t approve additional changes by then.

Lawmakers adjourned without approving a response to the court order. House Speaker Ray Merrick called the court “judicial hostage takers.”

Brownback said the courts should not be “playing politics” with children’s education.

3:15 p.m.

Top Republican legislators are accusing the Kansas Supreme Court of issuing its latest education funding ruling to help justices survive attempts to oust them in the November election.

Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce said Wednesday that he believes the court is trying to shift voters' attention away from unpopular past decisions that struck down death sentences in capital murder cases.

House Speaker Ray Merrick also said the school funding decision was political.

The court did not respond to a request for comment.

The court on Friday rejected some education funding changes approved by legislators earlier this year and warned that schools won't reopen if lawmakers don't make additional fixes to help poor school districts by June 30.

Five of the court's seven justices face yes-or-no retention votes in November.


3:05 p.m.

The Kansas Legislature has formally adjourned its annual session.

Lawmakers convened Wednesday for an adjournment ceremony, but they also overrode Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of a tax bill, and the Senate approved a resolution condemning a recent federal directive to public schools on accommodating transgender students.

The House adjourned at 1:45 p.m.

The Senate gaveled out of session at 2:35 p.m.

It was lawmakers' 74th day, making it the shortest annual session since 1974.

Legislators did not consider any proposed responses to a recent state Supreme Court decision rejecting education funding changes made earlier this year. That could lead to a special session later this month.


2:45 p.m.

The Kansas Senate has condemned a recent federal directive requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities associated with their gender identities instead of their birth genders.

The vote Wednesday was 30-8, with all of the no votes coming from the chamber's Democrats.

The chamber's effort to criticize the directive was spearheaded by Senate President Susan Wagle. The Wichita Republican said the directive is an overreach by the federal government and the resolution is in response to the desire of parents to protect their children.

Republican Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, of Leavenworth, called transgenderism "insanity," saying many transgender individuals are denying reality.

Democrats argued that the resolution was a distraction when lawmakers should be boosting state aid to poor school districts in response to a state Supreme Court ruling. They also said it was discriminatory.


1:50 p.m.

The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature has voted overwhelmingly to override GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of a bill enmeshed in a multi-million dollar tax dispute involving a retired pizza magnate.

The votes Wednesday were 39-1 in the Senate and 120-0 in the House.

Brownback rejected the bill over a provision dealing with how tax disputes are handled. The override was an unusual rebuke for the GOP governor.

The provision would have ensured that any taxpayer losing a dispute before the Board of Tax Appeals could have another full trial in district court before a limited review by the state Court of Appeals.

The debate comes as ex-pizza magnate Gene Bicknell is asking the state Supreme Court to order the state to refund $42.5 million in income taxes.


1:30 p.m.

Kansas legislators are bracing for bad news about the state's tax collections in May.

Lawmakers in both parties said Wednesday that they expect tax collections last month to have fallen at least $60 million short of expectations. The monthly report was due late Wednesday afternoon from the state Department of Revenue.

Tax collections have fallen short of expectations 10 of the past 12 months.

Senate President Susan Wagle told fellow Republican senators that tax collections last month were "awfully short" of expectations.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback last month cut higher education spending and spending on Medicaid health coverage for the needy, disabled and elderly to help keep the state's budget balanced through June 2017.


12:55 p.m.

Transgender activists and religious figures have met at the Kansas Statehouse in opposition to a Senate resolution rebuking the Obama administration's directive that public schools allow transgender students to use the restrooms that match their gender identity.

Equality Kansas, the state's leading LGBT group, held a rally to oppose the nonbinding resolution, which the Senate was to vote on today. Activist Sandra Meade calls the resolution a ploy to distract from the urgent need to act on school funding. The Kansas Senate is set to vote on the bathroom resolution Wednesday, the final day of the legislative session.

Lawmakers abandoned an effort Wednesday to pass school funding legislation to respond to the state Supreme Court's Friday ruling that the existing funding system is unconstitutional.

Lynn Barnett, left, speaks at a rally of LGBT supporters Wednesday, June 1, 2016, at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. Barnett, a social worker and therapist from Kansas City, Missouri, has a transgender son and spoke about issues of transgender equality as lawmakers met about similar issues.

Lynn Barnett, left, speaks at a rally of LGBT supporters Wednesday, June 1, 2016, at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. Barnett, a social worker and therapist from Kansas City, Missouri, has a transgender son and spoke about issues of transgender equality as lawmakers met about similar issues. by Mike Yoder


12:45 p.m.

The Republican-dominated Kansas Senate has voted overwhelmingly to override GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of a tax bill enmeshed in a multi-million dollar tax dispute involving a retired pizza magnate.

The vote Wednesday was 39-1, far more than the two-thirds majority of 27 necessary to override a veto. The House was expected to vote later Wednesday.

Brownback rejected the bill over a provision dealing with how tax disputes are handled.

The provision would have ensured that any taxpayer losing a dispute before the Board of Tax Appeals could have another full trial in district court before a limited review by the state Court of Appeals.

The debate comes as ex-pizza magnate Gene Bicknell is asking the state Supreme Court to order the state to refund $42.5 million in income taxes.


12:35 p.m.

Republican leaders in the Kansas Senate have abandoned an effort to pass legislation to respond to the state Supreme Court's latest decision on education funding.

Senate President Susan Wagle and Majority Leader Terry Bruce said there would be no debate Wednesday after it became clear during a meeting of GOP senators that they were deeply split.

The Legislature convened Wednesday for the ceremony formally adjourning its annual session.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback would have to call a special session for lawmakers to approve additional education funding changes. But some GOP senators want to defy the court.

The court on Friday rejected some education funding changes made earlier this year and warned that public schools will be unable to reopen again if legislators don't act by June 30.


10:15 a.m.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says Kansas will be joining litigation against the federal government for a directive that public schools allow transgender students to use the restrooms that match their gender identity, not their sex at birth.

Schmidt's announcement Wednesday came ahead of a Senate debate on a nonbinding resolution that condemns the recent directive from President Barack Obama's administration.

Texas and 10 other states already have filed suit against the federal government over the directive.

Schmidt said in a statement that Gov. Sam Brownback also favors joining the list of plaintiffs against the federal government. Schmidt said he is now considering whether Kansas will join the same lawsuit with the 11 other states or if it will pursue its own.


9:25 a.m.

The Kansas Legislature's top Republicans are meeting with GOP Gov. Sam Brownback to discuss a quick response to the state Supreme Court's most recent school finance ruling.

Brownback met Wednesday with the leaders just before the Legislature convened for a single day set aside for a ceremony formally adjourning their annual session. The governor's staff declined to let an Associated Press reporter into the meeting.

Aides to Republican leaders said ahead of the meeting that they did not know whether legislators would consider a bill Wednesday to boost aid to poor school districts.

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected some education funding changes made earlier this year by GOP lawmakers.

The court said the state's school finance system remained unfair to poor school districts and warned that public schools will be unable to reopen again if legislators don't make further fixes by June 30.


8:30 a.m.

Kansas legislators are waiting to learn whether the state tax collections in May met expectations.

The monthly report due Wednesday afternoon from the state Department of Revenue could complicate the state's budget picture.

State officials and university economists issued the latest, more pessimistic fiscal forecast in April, and tax collections that month were $2.6 million more than anticipated and the surplus was about 0.5 percent.

But even with the good news for April, the tax collections have fallen short of expectations 10 of the past 12 months.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback last month cut higher education spending and spending on Medicaid health coverage for the needy, disabled and elderly to help keep the state's budget balance through June 2017.


1:30 a.m.

The Kansas Senate is considering a resolution condemning a recent Obama administration decree that public schools allow transgender students to use restrooms that match their gender identity, not their sex at birth.

Opponents say the measure is a distraction on the last day of the annual session.

The nonbinding resolution comes less than a week after the state Supreme Court ruled that legislators failed to equitably fund public schools. Justices threatened to keep public schools from opening in August if legislators don't pass a measure by June 30 that adequately funds poor school districts.

Equality Kansas, the state's leading LGBT group, is planning a rally on Wednesday to oppose the resolution. Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, says legislators should focus on the school funding formula instead.


1:20 a.m.

Kansas lawmakers are preparing to consider overriding Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of a bill enmeshed in a multi-million dollar tax dispute involving a retired pizza magnate.

The Republican-dominated Legislature expected to take up the issue Wednesday before formally adjourning their annual session.

The GOP governor rejected the bill over a provision dealing with how tax disputes are handled.

The provision would have ensured that any taxpayer losing a dispute before the Board of Tax Appeals could have another full trial in district court before a limited review by the state Court of Appeals.

Legislators are considering the issue as ex-pizza magnate Gene Bicknell is asking the state Supreme Court to order the state to refund $42.5 million in income taxes.

Overriding the veto would require two-thirds majorities in both chambers.


Tweets from statehouse reporter Peter Hancock

Comments

Alex Landazuri 1 year, 5 months ago

why are they worried about this stupid bathroom nonsense when they should be worried about how to keep our schools open?

Barb Gordon 1 year, 5 months ago

Because they'd rather have a distracting social issue to rally their base than be judged on the things they've actually done to the state.

Phillip Chappuie 1 year, 5 months ago

Smoke and mirrors. Why don't they ignore this bathroom thing because what anybody says or does will not change anything from the way it has been. Go fix the school issue or the budget, you know, something that means something.

Steve Jacob 1 year, 5 months ago

I hope, in every debate in Kansas this year, every time a Republican even says the word "bathroom" the Democrat just bust out laughing. They can't say "Brownback", can't really ride Trump's coattails, can't blame Obama like the 2014 midterms because his numbers are rising.

Gary Pomeroy 1 year, 5 months ago

Bracing themselves for the bad news. Not taking any steps to resolve the problem, just bracing themselves. Holy crap, Batman . . . .

Barb Gordon 1 year, 5 months ago

Did they pass a resolution to rearrange the deck chairs, too?

Gary Pomeroy 1 year, 5 months ago

Ice berg of the starboard bow, Cap'n Brownie . . . .

Alex Landazuri 1 year, 5 months ago

maybe, just maybe the voters will see through the stupidity and remove the do nothing idiots that are running this state in favor of those that actually want to do their job.

Steve King 1 year, 5 months ago

You wish they would at least tell the truth. They didn't let the guys off. They simply ruled they should have had separate sent Cingular hearings. They stayed in jail the whole time. I think we have an activist Legislature. They squelch all the debate that doesn't follow the party line. Suggest the study of alternative solutions, you're kicked off the committee. Who threatened the Court's funding if they ruled unfavorably? That's extortion. Fund pacs to remove judges, pass legislation to make it easier to impeach judges? Fascists.

Steve King 1 year, 5 months ago

Boy, an edit function would be nice for those times auto spell messes up your posting.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 5 months ago

I turned off auto spell and auto correct. Had to reteach myself how to spell and punctuate. More control now.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.

loading...