In an effort to keep our readers better informed about the state government actions that impact our communities, we will again be featuring regular update columns during the 2014 session from northeast Johnson County’s elected officials: Rep. Barbara Bollier, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Emily Perry, Rep. Melissa Rooker and Sen. Kay Wolf. Sen. Wolf. submits this week’s update:
Friday, Feb. 28, marks the official halfway point of the session, which we refer to as “turnaround”. The chamber of origin must pass all bills, aside from exempt bills, by Feb. 28 in order to be considered on the back half of this year’s session. Next week we will spend a considerable amount of time on the Senate floor to debate bills passed out by committees in order to send them to the House for deliberation. Last week we debated and approved 20 bills on the floor. Some bills of notable interest are:
S Sub HB2387, “Strengthening the Hard 50,” builds upon changes made to the Hard 50 sentencing guidelines during last September’s Special Legislative Session. It establishes a mandatory minimum sentence of 50 years when one commits pre-mediated first-degree murder. A judge can reduce the sentence to 25 years if he or she finds substantial compelling reasons. Current law states a defendant convicted serves at least 25 years unless a jury recommends otherwise. This passed the Senate 35-3. I voted yes.SB 248, “Victim Notification Act,” codifies current policy by the Department of Corrections. Under this proposal, notification will be sent within 14 days prior to an inmate’s release. Passage of this bill will certainly aid families and victims. The Senate passed 39-0.
SB 308, “Kansas No Call Act,” will allow consumers to add their cellphone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry. The Attorney General will be able to enforce the law against telemarketers who call a consumer’s listed cellphone number. The Senate voted 38-0.
The Senate also considered two bills this week, SB 354 and SB 355, which strengthen current laws for the financial mistreatment of an elder adult or dependent. SB354 gives prosecutors additional tools to indict anyone taking advantage of a senior (over 60). Adult Protective Services, identified that one in nine seniors has been reported being abused, neglected or exploited. SB 355 strengthens law to include protections for anyone that is not acting in the best interest of their dependent. Both bills passes 38-0.
SB 211 moves local spring elections to coincide with November elections in the even numbered years. As you know, most local and school board elections are held in the spring. Senate Ethics and Elections heard the bill and made amendments last week. One was to keep the elections non-partisan but to allow the parties to fill vacancies based on the party affiliation of the vacancy. If the vacancy were held by an independent both party representatives would fill it. Another amendment eliminated the school district voting plan “C” which allows voting only for school board candidates in individual districts or at-large. This is currently the model SMSD utilizes. The committee will work the bill this Wednesday. I oppose this bill for many reasons.
Senate Education will also possibly take action on SB196 “Creating the Kansas Public Charter School Act” which allows multiple authorizers and other entities to operate charter schools. These schools would be exempt from most state school laws and regulations. I oppose this bill.
There are many issues that come before us during the legislative session. This is only a small sampling. During the session I provide weekly email legislative updates. Please contact my office at 785-296-7390 or email [email protected] if you would like to receive these.
Making your voice heard is extremely important. Your opinion counts and does make a difference. I value your input. Thank you for the opportunity of allowing me to serve you.