The best and worst of bills being considered by the 2016 Kansas Legislature: Rep. Clayton’s take

House_Kansas_Topeka

Turnaround day, the final day for a bill to be considered in its house of origin and one of the first major deadlines in a Kansas legislative session, came last week, and we thought it provided a good opportunity to check in with local legislators about which pieces of legislation have them excited and which have them disturbed. The session resumes today. So far we’ve published the thoughts of Rep. Jarrod Ousley, Sen. Pat Pettey, Rep. Barbara Bollier and Rep. Melissa Rooker.

We conclude today with Rep. Stephanie Clayton:

Rep. Stephanie Clayton
Rep. Stephanie Clayton

The Best

HB 2405: Angel Investor Tax Credit Extension. This inexpensive initiative gives Kansas entrepreneurs a strong advantage, and has been proven as a strong contributor to economic success for fledgling businesses.

HB 2323: Reinstating sexual orientation and gender identity into Kansas Employee Discrimination Act. I hope that this bill comes before the full House for a vote; it had a hearing earlier this Session. It is time for the state of Kansas to show the rest of the nation that we are on the right side of history, not only from a standpoint of human decency, but to send a signal to the rest of the nation that we are a state with modern ideas that is ready to do business with the rest of the country.

SB 86: The Transparency Act: The taxpayers of Kansas deserve a window into the functions of their government. A joint project of mine and Senator Wolf’s, this bill would allow for the live-streaming of legislative committee proceedings, was passed by the Senate unanimously, has been waiting for its day on the House Floor. The House version had 24 sponsors from all across the political spectrum. The legislature has operated in the dark for far too long.

Honorable Mention: HB 2375: gun violence restraining order act.

The Worst

SB 439: Judicial Impeachment. This bill would allow judges to be impeached for “attempting to usurp the power of the Legislative or Executive Branches.” The interpretation of this line in the bill could be incredibly broad, broad enough where one could interpret a ruling with which the governor or some legislators disagreed to be grounds for impeachment. This bill is in direct contradiction of the Separation of Powers Doctrine on which our democracy was founded. It is up for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee when Session resumes this week.

HB 2468: Allowing Air Guns on School Property. This bill was voted favorable for passage in the House Federal and State Affairs committee (I was the only one on the 23-member committee who voted against the measure), and may soon be brought up for a vote on the House Floor. At first blush, the bill would allow students to train for air rifle shooting competitions on school properties after hours. But, a closer look at the bill shows large loopholes that usurp the local control of school districts, and leave the term “organization” so loosely defined that the bill could legally allow ISIS, or a similar “organization” to train students to shoot on taxpayer-funded school property.

HB 2199: Opt-in sex education. This bill would force all school districts to have an “opt-in” requirement for sexual education. Currently, the school districts are the ones who make this decision, and it should remain as such, given that our school boards are duly elected officials, the same as legislators. In addition to that, I always have concerns with the motivation behind those who want to restrict access to sexual education for children. The more that children know about their bodies, the more that they can protect themselves from sexual abuse. I think that we can all agree that decreasing sexual abuse is a goal that every legislator should have.

Honorable mention: HB 2199, which violates the Separation of Powers between the legislature and the State Board of Education by repealing curriculum.