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Senate finishes work for the week; Kansans for Life official to be deputy state treasurer
Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning said Thursday that there would be no more business on the floor of the Senate this week, but that starting Monday the Senate would work seven days a week through the end of the session.
The Senate will hold a "pro forma" session Friday so it can receive messages from the House or the governor, but that does not require a quorum of senators to be present. Some senators who serve on committees or conference committees meeting Friday also will have to show up, but the other senators can enjoy an unplanned three-day weekend, which includes Mother's Day on Sunday.
Denning, an Overland Park Republican, made that announcement at the end of a short work day in which the Senate passed two noncontroversial conference committee bills, including one dealing with human trafficking.
The announcement came one day after the Senate failed to pass a tax bill that would have rolled back many of Gov. Sam Brownback's signature income tax cuts from 2012. It would have raised a little over $1 billion in new revenue over the next two years.
Most Democrats and conservative Republicans opposed the bill, albeit for different reasons. Democratic leaders have been holding out on supporting any tax bill until lawmakers pass a school funding formula, arguing that they need to know how much it will take to fund schools before they vote on a tax bill.
Denning, however, seems poised now to work with conservatives on a smaller bill that he says Brownback will either sign or let become law without his signature.
Besides a tax package, lawmakers must pass a school finance formula by June 30 that complies with a Kansas Supreme Court order to provide adequate and equitable funding for public schools. They also have to pass a two-year spending plan for the rest of state government.
The House, by contrast, plans to debate four bills on Friday, including one establishing a Foster Care Task Force that will review the Department for Children and Families' management of the foster care system and make recommendations for improvement.
LaTurner names staff
Newly minted State Treasurer Jake LaTurner announced two new staff picks Thursday, including one who currently serves as assistant deputy director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, Peter Northcott.
Northcott was named to the post of deputy treasurer. LaTurner also named Braden Dreiling as director of public relations.
LaTurner did not mention Northcott's ties to Kansans for Life in the press release announcing the appointments, but Northcott lists that as his current position on his LinkedIn page. He is also listed as a registered lobbyist for that group on the Kansas Secretary of State's website. Before taking that job this year, he served as chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, who was defeated for re-election in 2016.
In 2011 and 2012 he served as a legislative liaison in Brownback's office.
"Peter and Braden both have experience in government and private businesses," LaTurner's press release stated. "They both began their professional careers working in the Statehouse for government officials. Peter holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Kansas, and Braden holds a degree in Political Science and is expected to complete his Masters in Business Administration in 2018, both from Fort Hays State University."
Dreiling worked in 2012 and 2013 as field director for the campaign of former Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco, who is now a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, according to Dreiling's LinkedIn page. He then moved to Bruce's office, where he was caucus liaison until last year. He currently works as digital marketing manager for Aldersgate Village, a retirement community in Topeka.