As Turnaround approaches, we’ve been busy hearing testimony and considering bills. Turnaround is essentially the half-way point of the Legislative Session. It’s the deadline for Senate bills to be passed out of the Senate so they may be considered by the House, as well as the deadline for House bills to be passed out the House so they may be considered by the Senate. Up to this point, about 212 Senate bills have been introduced in addition to 354 House bills. Here are some of the key bills we’ve been discussing:
As noted in my newsletter, I was disappointed this week, when considering the Fiscal Year 2011 Rescission Bill, the Senate, by a vote of 16-23, failed to adopt an amendment by Sen. Ty Masterson which would have brought the Senate bill in line with the proposals from the House and the Governors, which I voted for. The broader bill then passed the Senate, which I voted against because I simply refuse to vote for proposals which continue the free-spending ways of the past.
The Senate passed a plan this week to start rebuilding the state’s unemployment fund. Over the past few years, our unemployment fund has been depleted and the state has borrowed more than $100 million from the federal government to replenish the fund. We can no longer borrow our way out of this recession. This plan begins to repay our debt to the U.S. Treasury and it protects the long-term viability of the state fund so that it will be there as a safety net for Kansans when they need it most. In this economy, thousands of hard-working Kansans have found themselves out of work through no fault of their own. Fortunately, the Senate’s plan does not reduce the weekly unemployment benefit for Kansans. It does reinstate the one week waiting period for benefits, which has existed in Kansas since the 1930s but was lifted in 2007. Recognizing the condition the fund is in, the most responsible thing we can do right now is bring the waiting week back. The Senate has additionally maintained benefits for Kansans who must leave their jobs to follow a spouse serving in the Armed Forces.
Rural Opportunity Zones
Like many states, we’ve seen the number of people living in our rural communities decline. To meet this challenge, we have to be creative and develop new opportunities for our young people to stay in Kansas and raise their families here. This week, a Senate committee considered a proposal from the Governor to develop Rural Opportunity Zones. These zones, which include counties that have lost 10 percent or more of their population over the past decade, would be able to encourage Kansans who have moved out of state to come back with incentives like a five-year income tax rebate and student loan repayment assistance. I will continue to look at the Governor’s plan to determine how it could best help our community.
NFL wide receiver and Kansas native Jordy Nelson visited the Senate on February 17 where we recognized him for his hard work and dedication, both on and off the field. Jordy, who played football at K-State and now plays for the Green Bay Packers, caught a 29-yard touchdown pass for the first score of Super Bowl XLV. Next week, the Senate will have the pleasure of recognizing two Kansas Medal of Honor recipients, Col. Don Ballard and Col. Roger Donlon. Colonel Ballard earned his award while serving in the Marines during the Vietnam War in 1968. Colonel Donlon earned his medal for service during the Vietnam War in 1964.
Did You Know?
With the snow melting this week, it’s a good time to think about the Spring and Summer months. The Department of Wildlife and Parks offers cabins for rent at many of our state lakes and parks. It’s an affordable way to plan a weekend with family or friends, and to spend some time enjoying the great Kansas outdoors. To find out more about the cabins, visit www.kdwp.state.ks.us/news/State-Parks/Locations-With-Cabins or call the Department at 785-296-2281.
Appointments. On February 15, the Senate confirmed the following appointments:
General Orders. On February 15, the Senate passed the following bills, sending them to the House for consideration:
- Dale Rodman as the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. His appointment is at the pleasure of the Governor.
- Shawn Sullivan as the Secretary of the Department of Aging. His appointment is at the pleasure of the Governor.
Senate Bill 5 establishes licensure for perfusionists
Senate Bill 12 provides that an individual in bankruptcy may exempt their right to receive earned income tax credits.
Senate Bill 34 allows a habitual violator whose driver’s license has been revoked to apply for and be issued a class C license for the operation of motorized bicycles.
Senate Bill 37 allows for prisoners in city or county jails to work to earn credit toward paying off their fines at no less than $5 an hour.
Senate Sub for House Bill 2014, more commonly known as the Rescission Bill. This recommendation, brought to the Legislature by Governor Brownback, is designed to close budgetary gaps and end Fiscal Year 2011 with a positive balance. The Senate proposal retains an ending balance while meeting the state’s obligations regarding maintenance of effort (MOE) for special education. Meeting these obligations to our local schools helps protect the state from being fined for not meeting MOE requirements and it prevents the permanent loss of federal matching dollars for special education. The Senate’s rescission bill also cuts salaries for state officers, including legislators, statewide elected officials, statutory agency heads, other constitutional officers of the state and judges.
Senate Bill 45 eliminates the taxpayer identification number from being included in a Certification of Trust.
Senate Bill 58 designates the junction of U.S. 24 and K-7 highways in Wyandotte County as the Representative Margaret Long Interchange.
Senate Bill 60 ensures that direct appeals on behalf of criminal defendants who are sentenced pursuant to Jessica’s Law or departures from Jessica’s Law go first to the Court of Appeals rather than to the Supreme Court. This is due to the fact that legal questions that needed to be posed to the state Supreme Court upon initial implementation of Jessica’s Law have now been answered.
Senate Bill 62 amends the law to allow for a docket fee to be assessed by the court in asset forfeiture cases.
Senate Bill 65 modifies existing Kansas external review statutes to bring the Kansas external review process into compliance with the consumer protections of the Uniform Model Act. If this is not done, Kansas would cede regulation and control of its external review processes to the federal government.
Senate Bill 77, which deals with unemployment, would establish an Employment Security Interest Assessment Fund; reinstate the one-week waiting period on all new claims filed for unemployment insurance benefits; eliminate the benefit eligibility for relocating spouses (excluding spouses of those serving in the Armed Forces); create an incremental increase in the taxable wage base; expand the number of negative reserve ratio groups from 10 to 20, and increase the maximum allowable surcharge from 2% to 4%.
The following is a list of key activities in my committees this week. We have hearings on a number of bills, which are included below.
Judiciary Committee. The committee passed out Senate Bill 52, which requires the courts to consider grandparents as interested parties to a child in need of care proceedings and requires they receive notification of court hearings regarding their grandchildren. The committee also held hearings on the following bills:
Senate Bill 46. Civil procedure; electronic filing. This bill allows courts to begin e-filing, so courts may keep electronic forms of records and information instead of paper copies of all relevant documents. The legislation changes current wording which requires court clerks to keep filed papers in a carefully wrapped, dated and stamped envelope. It also clarifies that the Supreme Court, rather than the Chief Judge of a judicial district, would issue the order of when records and information would be maintained in a computer information storage and retrieval systems versus dockets and journals. It is believed that SB 46 would increase the efficiency of the Judiciary and make it easier to access public records. According to the Division of the Budget, funding of $1,866,000 from the State General Fund for the e-filing project is included in the Judiciary’s budget request for FY 2012. The long-term fiscal statement of e-filing cannot be determined by the Division at this time. Senate Bill 46 passed out of committee.
Senate Bill 73. Criminal procedure, visual depiction. This bill provides for the prevention of pornographic images of a child from being recreated in an attempt to limit the chances of the material being distributed.
Senate Bill 74. Civil procedure; forfeiture; electronic solicitation; sexual exploitation. This bill would broaden the scope of crimes that allow forfeiture of assets to include the crimes of electronic solicitation and sexual exploitation of a child.
Senate Bill 135. Kansas racketeer influenced and corrupt organization act (Kansas RICO act). This bill would make it a severity level 2 personal felony to participate in or benefit from an enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity. The bill defines racketeering activity as the commission, attempt to commit, conspiracy to commit, or solicitation, coercion or intimidation of another person to commit certain crimes. Pattern of racketeering activity would be defined as engaging in at least two incidents of racketeering activity within the past five years, with at least one incident occurring after the effective date of RICO. Crimes covered by the Kansas RICO Act would be subject to forfeiture.
Senate Bill 159. Concerning crimes, punishment, and criminal procedure; relating to parole and post release supervision for violent offenders and sex offenders; conditions. This bill would require sex offenders to sign a contract upon being paroled allowing a parole officer, community corrections service officer or any law enforcement officer to commit a suspicion-less search of the parolee at any time of day or night. The officers are not allowed to conduct searches that are arbitrary, capricious, or intended to harass. Probationers would be subjected to a similar written agreement that would allow searches as long as there is reasonable suspicion of a crime or the violation of their probation. The bill would have retroactive application for parolees and probationers. During the hearing, there was proposed a balloon amendment which, if added to the bill, would allow searches for all parolees and probationers. The fiscal note indicates that all expenses would be covered by existing funds. Another fiscal note is being drafted to consider the impact on prison and jail space.
Senate Bill 160. Child support; collection of child support payments. SB 160 amends current law concerning support orders and income withholding, adding the words “court trustee or” to allow same process that Title IV-D agencies use (state-run child support enforcement programs). It also amends part of the debt setoff statutes adding wording to include trustee debt on the same level as IV-D debts.
Senate Bill 105. Concerning interest on judgments. SB 105 would change the statutory prejudgment interest rate paid to creditors from 10% to a rate that is 1% above the discount rate as of July 1, preceding the date the judgment was rendered. This interest rate would change effective July 1 of each year for both judgments rendered before July 1, and judgments rendered during the 12-month period beginning each July 1. SB 105 would eliminate the separate statutory rate of 12% post judgment interest in limited actions cases. The statutory post judgment rate applicable in general civil procedure cases would be applicable to limited action cases. The bill would also prohibit a court form awarding prejudgment interest on any unliquidated, punitive, exemplary, or future damages. According to the Division of Budget, passage of SB 105 would have no fiscal effect on the Judicial Branch.
Senate Bill 106. Concerning consumer protection. This bill would amend the Customer Protection Act to follow the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission and the interpretations of the FTC and federal courts. The bill strikes the language regarding agricultural purpose and agricultural products from the definition of consumer. The bill strikes “husband and wife, sole proprietor, and family partnership” as well as “business or agricultural” in regard to the consumer trying to acquire property or services. A consumer will be judged to have suffered loss only if they can prove on an individual basis that a violation of the Kansas consumer protection act caused the consumer to enter into the transaction that resulted in the damages.
Senate Bill 96. Business entities; residing agents; articles of incorporation and certificates of good standing. This bill would alter the requirements for a foreign corporation trying to operate in Kansas. Under current law, foreign corporations have to submit a certificate of good standing from the state where they are based. This bill would change this so that when filing an application, corporations need only to indicate that they are in good standing in their home state. The bill would also add language to the resident agent formation document indicating that a corporation has notified the resident agent that they have been appointed and that the resident agent has accepted the appointment. Additionally, the bill would allow limited liability companies, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships to reinstate their articles of incorporation after forfeiture due to a loss of their resident agent by filing a certificate of reinstatement and paying any fees and penalties due to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s Office requested a delayed effective date of July 1, 2012.
Senate Bill 164. Record requirements and civil penalties relating to sales of plastic bulk merchandise containers. This bill would require recyclers to keep records of persons trying to sell more than ten plastic shells (that beverages are transported in) for at least a year so law enforcement can determine whether the plastic shells are stolen.
Senate Bill 104. Kansas Tort claims act; charitable health care providers. This bill would amend the Kansas Tort Claims Act by removing “Kansas Administrative Regulations” citations related to charitable health care providers that provide dental service and replacing the citations with the phrase “rules and regulations adopted by the Kansas Dental Board.” According to the Division of the Budget, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Dental Board have indicated that passage of SB 104 would have no fiscal effect.
The committee also continued hearings on Senate Bill 39, which is related to creating the classification of “aggravated sex offender;” creating additional penalties and restrictions for sex offenders. SB 39 would do the following: Amend the Kansas offender Registration Act by expanding the definition of sex offender and adding the new classification of aggravated sex offender; Aggravated sex offenders who change residences would be required to send written notification of the new address within 24 hours to the local law enforcement agency and the KBI; Aggravated sex offenders would not be able to live within 2,000 feet or loiter within 500 feet of any licensed child care facility, home day care, or school property; the Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles will be required to include an “aggravated sex offender” label on all licenses issued to aggravated sex offenders; Any sex offender who has violated the Kansas Offender Registration Act would have their driving privileges suspended for six months; and Any person required to register under the Act would be prohibited from participating in any Halloween activities. According to the Division of the Budget, this bill would result in an estimated increase of 122 adult prison beds for FY 2011 and 465 adult prison beds by FY 2021. The Department of Revenue estimates additional costs totaling $30,296 from the SGF would also be incurred as a result of the bill’s passage.
Public Health and Welfare Committee. On Monday, the committee held a hearing on Robert Moser as the Secretary of Health and Environment. They passed him out of committee the same day. The committee also heard testimony on the following bills:
Senate Bill 88. Concerning naturopathic medicine and the prescription, recommendation or administration of natural medicines. This bill would expand the scope of practice for naturopaths, including allowing them to prescribe, recommend or administer some prescription-only drugs and substances.
Public Health and Welfare also passed the following bills out of committee:
Senate Bill 134. Creating the licensure role of advanced practice registered nurse. This bill would update the Nurse Practice Act and make several changes to it, making it consistent with the Consensus Model of the Advance Practice Registered Nurse. These changes include: A title change from Advance Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) to Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN); Changes in certificate of qualification to licensure; Changes to the categories of APRN to roles; Requiring a master’s degree or higher degree in an APRN role; and Continuing education requirements for the APRN role.
Senate Bill 132. Dental care; increasing availability and access to dental care. This bill proposes various changes to the Dental Practice Act. The most significant being giving dental hygienists with Extended Care Permits the ability to expand the dental hygiene services they provide.
Senate Bill 195. Relating to the licensure of acupuncturists. This bill establishes licensing and regulation of Acupuncturists under the Board of Healing Arts.
Senate Bill 141. Concerning the department on health and environment, relating to school-located influenza vaccination programs. This bill requires the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to apply for federal grants in order to fund, promote, and expand school-located influenza vaccination programs for school children.
Senate Bill 138. Pharmacy audit integrity act. SB 138 allows pharmacies some of the following considerations for an audit to be performed: At least two week’s notice, the audit may only cover two years, and high business times are off-limits for conducting an audit.
Senate Bill 133. Health information; technology and exchange of health information. This is the Kansas Health Information and Technology Exchange Act. It address legal barriers to health information exchange and provides a framework for addressing the secure exchange of health information via health information technology.
Senate Bill 139. Members of regional trauma councils and advisory committee on trauma. This bill allows for peer review processes by protecting the peer review status for the Kansas Trauma System. SB 139 was passed out of committee.
- Substitute for Senate Bill 33. This bill requires the compilation of information on concussions and head injuries in high school athletics and the risks involved when athletes continue playing or practicing after a concussion or head injury. The information and a release form will be required of all student athletes before participating in school sports, and additionally requires that a student suffering from a concussion or head injury cannot return to playing without an examination and clearance from a licensed health care provider.
- Senate Bill 100 amends the Addictions Counselor Licensure Act which passed during the 2010 Legislative Session. The bill would eliminate case management from the scope of addiction counseling; clarify that clinical addiction counseling includes independent practice and the diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders; makes provision for addiction counselors who are exempt from licensure; clarifies the need for course work for licensure; adds another option available to meet the licensure requirements; adds a grandfathering provision; provides clarification of the continuing education requirement differences for a clinical addiction counselor or an addiction counselor; and makes other technical amendments.
Natural Resources. The committee held hearings on Executive Reorganization Order 36, which renames the Department of Wildlife and Parks as the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and transfers the Division of Travel and Tourism Development at the Department of Commerce to the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.