February 17, 2006
Back to Legislative Updates
The House Federal and State Affairs committee took final action on House Bill (HB) 2615 which would repeal a law passed last year granting in-state tuition to undocumented aliens who had graduated from a Kansas high school or received their GED in Kansas. The bill received a tie vote in committee and therefore failed to be referred to the full House.
M and E
Multiple amendments were suggested in committee for the M & E bill, HB 2619. Many of them were designed to soften any reduction in tax revenue local taxing authorities may experience. Once the bill reached the House floor, other amendments were also approved. The first, introduced by Representative Arlen Siegfreid (R-Olathe) and commonly referred to as the “Siegfreid Slider”, would reimburse localities for lost revenue in the first five years of the exemption. The rate of reimbursement declines 20% per year from 100% in the first year until it is phased out in year five. I had an opportunity to vote on returning LAVTR dollars to the local communities and voted in favor of it, but the amendment failed. Added to the bill was a provision to expand the Homestead Property Tax Refund Act by increasing the income eligibility threshold for claimants age 65 and above from $27,000 to $50,000. Additionally, the bill would also expand the school finance residential homestead property tax exemption from $20,000 to $30,000. The bill passed by a vote of 108-14 and was sent to the Senate.
A bill which had been defeated in previous years in the Kansas House received the body’s approval this week. HB 2611 passed the House by a vote of 90-29 and would require children aged 4-7, weighing less than 80 pounds and who are less than four feet nine inches in height to be in a booster seat. Compelling testimony changed several votes and allowed for its passage. The bill was supported by the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the Kansas State Nurses Association. No opponents testified against the bill in committee, but many members who voted against the final bill felt it was one more instance of government dictating how parents should care for and protect their families.
Nuclear Security Guards
The protection of the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant is vitally important to Kansas and to the United States. Terrorist activity in the world knows no boundaries and House Bill 2703 would grant security guards at nuclear facilities increased authority should an attack occur. Security officers will be allowed to carry larger caliber weapons and if someone penetrates their already heavy security and poses a direct threat to the vital areas of the facility, officers will be allowed to shoot an intruder to prevent a greater disaster from occurring. HB 2703 was approved in the House Thursday by a vote of 93-27.
Small Claims Court
House Bill 2704 would raise from ten to 20 the number of claims a person or business may file in a calendar year. The bill was debated on the House floor and final action is expected this week.
Health & Human Services
The House Health & Human Services Committee again kicked out a bill that would regulate abortion clinics. We also had the opportunity of learning a great deal about Stem Cell Research.
It is such a pleasure to serve you here in Topeka. I look forward to seeing many Coffey County constituents this weekend at Lebo and Waverly.