Capitol update: ‘Equal Access’ bill impact on teachers’ school mailboxes, talk of eliminating mortgage interest deduction

In an effort to keep our readers better informed about the state government actions that impact our communities, we are featuring regular update columns from northeast Johnson County’s elected officials in the legislature: Rep. Barbara Bollier, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Melissa Rooker and Sen. Kay Wolf. Check back on Mondays to find out what’s been happening the past week in Topeka. Rep. Bollier submits this week’s update:

Friday marked the last day for non-exempt committees to introduce bills. Committees which are exempt, such as Tax and Appropriations, don’t have the same time restrictions because their legislative areas typically take the most amount of time. The House has deadlines for progress of bills to help ensure we end the session in the required 90 days. However, this year House leadership has set an ambitious goal of getting our work done and ending the session in 80 days. As a result, things are moving at a rapid pace this year. We will be very busy during next two weeks before turnaround, the final time when bills from one chamber can be sent to the other chamber.

Dr. Barbara Bollier
This past week the House passed 15 bills. You can stay up-to-date with committee schedules and bills and find other helpful information regarding the happenings in the statehouse through the legislature’s website, kslegislature.org. Additionally, do not hesitate to contact any of us (Reps. Barbara Bollier, Stephanie Clayton, Melissa Rooker, or Sen. Kay Wolf) with your thoughts, concerns and questions. We would appreciate hearing from you on these issues being discussed in the legislature.

Mortgage Interest Deduction
This week, the Senate Taxation Committee approved an amended version of the governor’s tax plan that he proposed at the beginning of the session. Like the governor’s proposal, the Senate committee’s bill eliminated the state mortgage interest deduction. No tax plan has yet been acted on in the House and several different plans are being considered by the House Tax Committee

Equal Access
The House Education Committee approved a bill (HB 2221) that would require school boards to grant professional education organizations access to teacher email inboxes and mailboxes. This would eliminate the KNEA contract agreement allowing the teachers to determine who has access to their email. If this bill comes to the House for a vote I will not be supportive.

Consumer Protection
The House approved a bill this week that created the crime of home improvement fraud. The bill makes giving a homeowner false information, pretenses or promises to coerce them into signing a home improvement contract a crime. It also criminalizes omitting information or reinforcing a false impression about the property to the owner. I voted “yes” on this bill.

Physical Therapy Self-Referral
The House passed a bill allowing Physical Therapists to see and treat patients without a referral from a physician. Current law allows a patient to see a physical therapist for evaluation but then requires the physician to be contacted for a referral for treatment to commence. I was opposed to this bill; I believe that the doctor should be a part of medical treatment decisions.

KanCare Educational Meetings
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will be hosting educational meetings for KanCare (Medicaid) members beginning next week (Feb.19 in Kansas City). Announcements are being mailed to each KanCare household. For more details, including location and time, visit kancare.ks.gov/events.