Capitol update: Constitutional amendment on fund allocation, Kobach’s bid for PAC

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. Sen. Wolf submits this week’s update:

The Legislature is now past “Turnaround Day” which is the deadline, with a few exceptions, for all pieces of legislation to have passed the chamber of origin and be sent to the other chamber. From here on out, the Senate will mostly be considering pieces of legislation that originated in the House and vice versa. Up to this point the Senate has passed 83 pieces of legislation.

Kay Wolf

Some of those include:

  • SCR 1608 is a resolution that if passed by both chambers will forward a constitutional amendment to the voters stating the legislature has solely the authority of appropriating funds. The resolution passed in the Senate 27-13, just meeting the 2/3-majority vote needed. The resolution now moves to the House where it is rumored it does not have enough supportive votes to achieve the 2/3 majority needed. I was one of the thirteen voting against passage of the bill. In my opinion, this bill is clearly not needed. The legislative body already has the sole authority of appropriating of funds. There is a misconception in that many believe the courts arbitrary mandated the dollar amount the legislature was to allocate for funding of education. In actuality, the court did not determine the dollar amount to be spent per pupil without data obtained by the legislative body. They arrived at the $4,492 per pupil number in part by the school finance study commissioned by the legislature called Augenblick and Myers. The other factor was the state legislative post audit report again requested by the legislature to determine actual costs of meeting state standards for school accreditation. I was one of thirteen voting against passage of the bill. Our current statutes clearly define it is a legislative duty.
  • SB 63 was an act concerning elections relating to penalties for voting crimes. In the course of debate an amendment was offered to restrict the Secretary of State from having a political action committee and dispersing those funds in support of certain candidates. The Senate President said it very well when she stated this is not a Republican or Democrat issue. Clearly the highest election officer in the state should not be politicizing the position. FYI…I am paraphrasing her exact comments. The amendment was passed with a bi-partisan vote of 23-17. I voted yes. I hope the House will also pass this common sense legislation.
  • SB 199 enacts a new law requiring the KU Medical Center to establish the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. Some duties would be to advance adult cord blood and related stem cell research and therapies for patient treatment; initiating clinical trials with related stem cells and informing the public on available therapeutic options. This bill was highly supported by the Med Center.

Next week, the two most important bills of the session will most likely be voted on in both Chambers. These are the budget and the tax bills. The House has indicated they will have their budget bill done prior to the tax bill, as there is little support for an increase in sales tax. The Senate plans to have the tax bill completed prior to the budget in order for the budget to match the tax bill. It is believed the Senate has the votes to continue the one-cent sales tax designated to terminate July 2013. I will not be voting to extend the sales tax as I made a pledge to my constituents three years
ago to eliminate this tax.

As always, please feel free to contact me at any time. If you are not receiving my electronic newsletter and wish to please email kaywolf@senate.ks.gov or contact my office at 785-296-7390. Alternatively, these are also available on my website, kansansforkay.com.

I will be joining Representative Stephanie Sawyer Clayton on Sat., March 16, at Foo’s Fabulous Custard at 95th and Mission from 10-11 a.m. for an informal legislative constituent meeting. We would love to hear your questions, thoughts and comments. I hope you will be able to join us.