Capitol Update: Anonymous effort to change constitution’s education funding provision gives Clayton concern

Rep. Stephanie Clayton

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Stephanie Clayton and Rep. Jarrod Ousley are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Clayton’s filing:

The legislature is heading into what is supposed to be our final week of what we refer to as “Regular Session”, and our most important work is at hand. Tomorrow, the House will debate an education funding formula bill that passed out of the House K-12 committee last week. The base bill is subject to numerous amendments on the Floor, and I urge you all to follow along with this debate, either by listening live at www.kslegislature.org, or by following local news sources.

A bill that would amend Article Six of the Kansas Constitution, concerning K-12 public education funding was introduced anonymously on Thursday, March 29th. At the time of this writing (Sunday evening, April 1), it still does not have any legislative sponsors, bill requestors or organizations linked to it. This bill has a public Hearing on Tuesday in the House Judiciary committee, and committee action will be taken on the bill on Wednesday. The speed with which this legislation was crafted, and the anonymity with which it was introduced give me great cause for concern.

Changing any Kansas law requires several steps, and Constitutional change is difficult to achieve. A two-thirds majority vote is needed in both the Senate and the House. (27 votes in the Senate, and 84 in the House). If this supermajority vote is achieved in both chambers, the legislation would then appear on the ballots of Kansans, and if that measure is passed with a simple majority, the constitutional language would then be changed.

The bill, HCR 5029, would “declare that the power to appropriate educational funding is exclusively a legislative power and is not subject to judicial review.” I disagree with this legislation, as I align with the Founding Fathers in my belief that a government should have checks and balances, and that no one branch should have more power than the other. You can see a link to the bill page here.

I have heard from many of you regarding the so-called “Safer Schools Act”, which had a hearing last week, and would, among other things, penalize school districts that chose not to arm teachers in the event that a violent incident occurred, and punish school officials who divulge the names of school faculty and staff who carried weapons. While I do not think that this bill will make it out of committee, I do have concerns that provisions from this legislation may be amended on to other related pieces of legislation. I most emphatically do not support these measures, and will continue to keep you informed on this matter.

I enjoy hearing from you! Please email me at stephanie.clayton@house.ks.gov, find me on Facebook at www.facebook/clayton4kansas, or follow me on Twitter at @sscjocoks. I host a legislative coffee at Foo’s Cafe in Leawood the third Saturday of every month. I hope to see you there!