Almost Halfway Home
It’s a pro forma day under the dome which means legislators did a quick check in this morning, then headed for home.
Monday will be the last day for committee hearings with Tuesday marking the lead up to “turn around” – the time by which bills must pass the chamber of origin in order to be debated in the second chamber. The exception is for bills that are in time-line exempt committees. Those committees are House and Senate Federal and State Affairs, Senate Ways and Means, Senate Assessment and Taxation, and the House committees on Calendar and Printing, Appropriations, and Taxation. A bill can also be “saved” by being referred by leadership to an exempt committee.
Both chambers will spend Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday on the floor trying to pass whatever bills they have available before they begin the turn around break on Friday. The second half of the session will begin on Wednesday, February 28.
A few legislators will not get Friday off, however. Dr. Lori Taylor who has been hired to conduct the new school finance cost study will be in Topeka to meet with members of the House K-12 Budget Committee and the Senate Select Committee on School Finance with whom she will discuss the cost study. The study is expected to be delivered on March 15, a full two weeks past the deadline for a school finance the Attorney General requested at the beginning of the session.
As of today, no bills dealing with any part of school finance have advanced.
“Konspiring” with Kobach?
House Higher Education Budget Chairman Kevin Jones (R-Wellsville) surprised everyone (everyone that is except Kris Kobach) by rescheduling a hearing on HB 2643 from next Monday to yesterday. The last-minute change meant that many opponents of the bill had not had the opportunity to sign up as conferees. Kobach seemed to be the one person who knew about the change.
HB 2643 would disallow in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants and use the savings to provide post-secondary tuition relief for foster children. As a reminder in-state tuition rates for the children of undocumented immigrants are only available to children who have graduated from a Kansas high school, have been in the country for at least three years, and sign an affidavit of their intent to pursue citizenship as soon as they are able.
While KNEA would normally rejoice over a bill to provide tuition assistance to foster children, we cannot support one that also puts post-secondary education out of reach of other young people.
With general outrage of the sudden change of times, Jones decided to continue the hearing on Monday. KNEA will submit testimony at that time.
What Happened with Due Process Yesterday?
Well, nothing. Committee Chair Clay Aurand canceled the scheduled meeting of the House Education Committee and announced that there would be a committee meeting on Monday for the express purpose of dealing with due process.
This gives you the opportunity over the weekend to call and email the members of the House Education Committee and let them know that the real option is to call upon Clay Aurand and Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe) to let HB 2578 to come up for action on the House floor. It sits available for action at this time.
This bill makes improvements to the statute on school district bullying plans and restores due process to all Kansas teachers. There is no need to pass any other bullying or due process bills out of committee. Let them take up the one that is already on the floor and put both issues to rest in the House of Representatives. Once that is done we can get on with the business of passing a school funding fix that will satisfy the Supreme Court and keep our schools open.
House Education Committee Members (*denotes those who voted YES to pass an amendment to the bullying bill which restores due process for K-12 teachers). Click to view contact information for each member.