March 1, 2019
Turnaround is the halfway point in the legislative session. It is a point when bills die that have not passed the originating chamber or have not been in an exempt committee. The Senate exempt committees are Federal & State Affairs, Tax, and Ways & Means. Generally, there is a major push to work as many bills as possible before the turnaround. My first year in the legislature we worked long hours for several days, including 24 hours the last day before turnaround. This year was much different. We worked several bills and then Senate leadership decided to take off the last day before turnaround. Needless to say, it was disappointing. While I appreciate the meticulous pace in working legislation, we could have worked another day on the floor and completed more of the State’s business.
Taking an approved Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Course will qualify most drivers for a reduction in their motor vehicle insurance. Some insurance companies offer as much as a 10% discount. The course must be completed every three years. Currently, an online course takes four hours to complete, while an in-person course takes eight hours to complete. Senate Bill (SB) 94 would make a course four hours, regardless if online or in-person. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.
KS Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) requested SB 49 that would remove the cap on cabin rentals owned and operated by KDWPT. I did not support removing the cap and raised the question – should state government be in the business of competing with private sector lodging accommodations? The bill passed the Senate with 29 Yes and 11 No votes.
Eudora Community Library District Act, SB 50, would allow the city of Eudora and the local township to continue to be a library district. Eudora was a class 3 city that formed a library district with the local township. However, Eudora became a class 2 city because of an increase in population, which forced a change in the library district. This may not seem like important legislation but it is because most library districts are taxing authorities. Statewide, Kansas libraries collect approximately $114 million a year in property taxes. The new Eudora Library Board would first be appointed, not allowing voters an opportunity to select their representation. While I support libraries, I am a stronger advocate for elected representation. The bill passed Yes 27 to No 12. I voted No.
Law enforcement must obey the rules of the road as we do. SB 34 would give law enforcement some leeway when the rules impede law-enforcement action. The bill passed the Senate 34 Yes to 4 No. I voted Yes.
Advance Ballot Signatures: SB 130 would require county election officers try to contact each voter who submits an advance ballot that is not signed or the signature does not match the signature on file, allowing the voter an opportunity to correct it before final canvass. While I have concern as to the logistics, especially in larger counties, we need to make every attempt that all legal ballots are counted. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.
There were many more bills debated and passed, too many to list here. Many legislators support transparent government, myself included. As a result of this effort committee meetings and daily sessions are available online. Legislation and the meetings can be found at www.kslegislature.org.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.