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:
During this past ninth week of the legislative session, the House Appropriations Committee passed a budget and the House Taxation Committee passed an income tax reform plan. The Appropriations Committee spent months finding the cuts needed to offset the tax bill from last session. At the same time, the Taxation Committee continues to buy down income tax rates. The tax plan includes eliminating most deductions and sweeping the four-tenths of a cent sales tax originally destined for the Department of
Transportation. These key bills will be worked on the House before first adjournment, which is April 5.
The House Education Committee voted down HB 2032, a bill that would expand current charter law (Kansas public school districts can currently create charter schools in Kansas). HB 2032 would allow new entities to authorize charter schools — the state Board of Education, the Board of Regents, the governing body of any city or county, or the governing board of any public or PRIVATE postsecondary institution. Additionally, this bill allows the authorizing entity to enter into an agreement with a private company to operate the charter schools. These new charter schools would receive an amount equal to the general state aid per pupil, plus the supplemental state aid per pupil such students’ resident school districts would otherwise be entitled to receive. An attempt to revive HB 2032 may occur by offering it as an amendment on the floor.The House passed an addition to the Personal and Family Protection Act also known as the Concealed Carry Act. Proponents believe that if a public building is not able to guarantee the safety and security of the public then individuals would have the right to protect them by carrying a concealed weapon. For example, if a city hall decided they don’t want to have guns in their building they must be able to guarantee there are not guns. Placing a sign saying guns aren’t allowed is not a deterrent and does not provide the public with a safe environment. Opponents of this bill believe it will place a huge unfunded mandate on local units of government that don’t want guns in their buildings.
Another bill about gun rights, HB 2199, passed the House. It would exclude from federal regulation any personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured commercially or privately and owned in Kansas. As long as any such firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition remained in Kansas, the gun would not be subject to any federal law, regulation, or authority. Also, the bill would prevent any federal agent or contracted employee, any state employee, or any local authority from enforcing any federal regulation or law governing a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and owned in Kansas, provided it remained within the borders of Kansas. Both gun bills are headed to the Senate for further consideration and action.
The next few weeks will be fast and furious in the legislature. Kansas policy will be set and have a significant impact on our schools, roads, and quality of life. I encourage you to pay attention and contact your Representative or Senator about issues that matter to you.