THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS
As we entered our second month in session things are speeding up. Two deadlines are approaching: Feb 10 is the last day for introduction of bills (except for exempt committees) and turn around time is on Feb 24. After that day all bills must be passed out of one chamber in order to be considered for the remainder of the session. Bills not passed out are effectively dead until next year. In anticipation committees are busy working bills to get them to the floor.
ACTIVITIES OF MY CHILDREN AND FAMILIES COMMITTEE
We heard arguments pro and con on two bills this week, one dealing with re- establishment independence and functioning of the citizens review board in foster care and adoption cases and one on implementation of rules, regulation and enforcement of seclusion and restraint policies for disruptive special ed students.
The former will not happen this session because of a $4.2 million fiscal note, a cost which has not been budgeted. We’ll look at it again next session. I will work HB 2444 the other bill next week.
One of the bills originated in our committee HB 2137 dealing with grandparents rights has been referred to the judiciary committee and I’m working with chairman Kinzer to offer assistance, if needed.
HB 2475 another of our bills which deals with community based services for the developmentally disabled was referred to the Social service Budget Committee on which I also serve. It is likely to die there for lack of funds this year hopefully to be resurrected next session.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE FOR NEXT WEEK
On Tuesday Feb 7 we will have an informational hearing on the inclusion of the DD population in the managed care program and on Thursday Feb 9 we will hold a joint meeting with the Juvenile Justice Committee on the Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility program and changes needed therein. Rep Pat Colloton and I will co–chair. Remember all committee meetings are open to the public and if you wish to testify you must contact the committee secretary, June Christensen at 8785 296 7676,
THE SOCIAL SERVICE BUDGET COMMITTEE AND VETERANS
We reviewed the budget of the Veteran’s Affairs Department and I’m pleased to report that we restored $64 million in cuts made last year. We also replaced two vehicles and saw to it that repairs were budgeted for the Soldier’s home.
THE FEDERAL AND STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
We passed out two minor noncontroversial gun bills dealing with concealed carriage by various law enforcement officials and debated HB2353 which changes the Personal and Family Protection Act by allowing those holding concealed carry licenses to carry in public buildings which are not secured by electronic surveillance. After three sessions and 11 (!) amendments we’re still not ready to decide whether the bill will go to the floor. And I have been getting emotional feedback on its content much of it based on misunderstanding. Let’s look at the facts:
Five years ago we voted the concealed carry law into effect overriding the governor’s veto by a large bi-partisan margin. Opponents made ominous predictions that accidental shootings, children being victims, road rage leading to gun fire, more violent, gun related crime would occur. None of this came to pass.
To obtain a license you must be 21 years of age, be fingerprinted by the Sheriff’s office, be investigated by the KBI, go through 8 hours of instruction on the law, demonstrate the ability to handle a weapon safely, shoot at a target at various distances and pay a $400 fee. People who complete these requirements are law abiding citizens who pose no threat to anyone, quite the contrary. I frankly have a hard time understanding why anyone could feel safer by a sign on a door prohibiting concealed carry which will be observed by honest citizens and utterly ignored by the criminal intent on settling a score by shooting someone. We’ll probably have a committee vote by Tuesday.
January tax only revenues were down $30.6 million. One of the reasons for the drop is that our Department of Revenue has become much more efficient in issuing tax refunds to electronic filers, and early filers are usually the ones who have refunds coming. Secretary Nick Jordan reports that refunds so far have come from current accounts and there is no delay as was common in the previous administration when tax payers had to wait weeks or months for their money.
Liquor taxes were up over the holidays, cigarette taxes down. Here are the numbers:
January estimates $607 million, actual $ 576 million, a 5% shortfall, year to date (Jul 1 2011 through Jan 31) estimate $3.421 billion, actual $3.424 billion. Compared to last year we’re ahead $200 million.
BILLS VOTED ON AND UNDER CONSIDERATION
HB 2451 Dealing with water management
HB 2502 Kansas swine facility management
HB 2273 Memorial Highway, Frankfort Boys
HB 2490 Authorizes Doctorate of Nursing @ Washburn
H Sub for SB 191 Allows the Dept of Agriculture to charge certain fees
HB 2424 Home based community services developing care plans cannot be providers
HB 2335 Adopts the federal definition of disability under ADA guidelines
HB 2453 Moves the commission on disability rights to the governors office
HB 2471 Regarding service on the board of adult care home administrators
HB 2456 Automatic proxy on the one call board prohibition
For more information on any bill and my voting record (I voted for all of these bills) go to the state web site www.Kansas.gov.
HB 2606, the bill which delineates all 125 house districts boundaries. Johnson County will have two new districts one of which is the eighth encompassing Gardner. It extends roughly from 143rd street to 191st North South and Four Corners to Old 56 Highway and St Claire rd West-East. I remain the incumbent in the 43rd District which extends from Olathe to Spring Hill. See the details at http://redistricting.ks.gov/.
A FREE SERVICE FOR YOU
Tax payer making less than $57,000 can prepare and e-file their return for free by going to www.IRS.gov/freefile. This service is made possible through a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a coalitionof industry leading tax software companies.
SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES
The Salvation Army provides SSVF to assist low income veterans and their families to assist in obtaining and maintaining stable housing. This program is to prevent homelessness and merits support. More information and application for admission isobtained by calling Stacy Pacholick @ 816.285.2792 or toll free @ 866.827.2769. Taking care of our veteran service personnel is a sacred duty and the Salvation Army is to be commended (a contribution to that fine organization would also be helpful.)
IF YOU STILL READ THE STAR YOU WOULDN’T KNOW THE TRUTH
A recent headline and several follow up articles and carefully selected letters to the editors paint a most unfavorable picture of the SRS implementation of changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A screaming story was headlined “Sam Brownback hurts poor children. Here are the facts:
- SNAP, as the food stamp program is known, is the cornerstone of providing food assistance to low income families. As an entitlement, it is available to nearly anyone but was never extended to undocumented noncitizens. Federal USDA administers and regulates eligibility.
- Before the recent changes, a higher threshold existed for Kansas citizens than for members who are not in the country legally by allowing them to earn $908 a month more than US citizens and still qualify for food stamps. This is clearly discrimination to legal citizens. Under the new policy all applicants will be treated equally and that aid goes to those who qualify under USDA guidelines. Currently 141,026 Kansas households get SNAP. 2,881 cases have been closed because when all their income was counted, they were no longer eligible. 1,042 of the removed households contained one or more ineligible non-citizens.
- BTW the household income threshold is $2,389 per month for a family of four.
Are always welcome. Please call in advance, we’ll gladly arrange a tour,tell where to park and,if desired and possible arrange a photo op with the governor.
Last week’s visitors were Danedri Thompson,Reporter for the Gardner News, and Gloria Phelps and son, also from Gardner.
PHYLLIS GILMORE NAMED SECETARY OF SRS
She is a licensed social worker with an impressive resume. She served in the legislature from 1994 – 2000, as Executive Director of the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board, and is stepping up from her position as KC Metro Director of SRS. As chairman of the Children and Family Issues committee, I look forward to working with her and her staff. The department she is heading will no longer be known as SRS but will be called the Department for Children and Families.
THE LAST WORD
“The one who drives when he’s been drinking depends on you to do his thinking.”
From an old Burma Shave ad