Friday is the day on which bills must pass their chamber of origin in order to be considered by the second chamber. There are, of course, exceptions. Bills that are in some time-line exempt committees can still be considered during the second half of the session. And sometimes, when a bill is not in an exempt committee but some folks still want to work it, the bill can be “blessed.” In this case, the bill is withdrawn and referred to an exempt committee. When worked that way, the bill that once should have died, is resurrected.
But a number of bills have passed their chamber of origin and are ready to be considered “across the rotunda” when the Legislature returns next week. And more bills will pass before the end on Friday.
Bills that have moved so far this week
In the House
House Bill 2058 allows for the recognition or reciprocity of concealed carry permits from non-Kansas residents. This bill was worked on the House floor on Wednesday and will go to final action on Thursday. The House Committee of the Whole amended this bill to allow 18 to 20 year old Kansans to obtain a concealed carry permit. KNEA released a statement on Wednesday strongly opposing this amendment. There will be more reporting on this bill in Thursday’s Under The Dome. (https://www.kneaweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Concealed-Carry-HB2058-Statement-3-3-2021.pdf)
House Bill 2039 requires students to pass a civics examination for high school graduation. The bill is opposed by the Kansas State Board of Education, KNEA, KASB, USA and other education advocacy organizations. The bill usurps the authority of the state board and will have the effect of limiting instruction to a high-stakes, multiple choice test. It is also strongly opposed by the Kansas Council for the Social Studies. It was advanced to final action on a voice vote. A final action vote will happen later.
House Bill 2066 allows for the issuance of Kansas licenses to individuals who hold licenses in other states. What started out as an attempt to help the spouses of military personnel temporarily assigned to posts in Kansas has been expanded to include anyone who plans to move to Kansas. Originally the bill required all licensing boards to grant licenses upon application but was amended on the floor to allow Kansas licensing boards and agencies the ability to deny a license if the applicant’s out-of-state training and experience don’t meet Kansas standards. The bill passed the House on a vote of 103 to 21.
House Bill 2085 creates the students’ right to know act. It calls for the publication of certain information regarding post-secondary education so that students and their parents have a better idea about the post-secondary programs they choose to enroll in and the potential employment and earnings potential. This is a bill that has been considered before and this time it was worked on with input from representatives of post-secondary institutions who now support the bill. It was advanced to final action on a voice vote. A final action vote will happen later.
House Bill 2166 creates new license plates including a “Proud Educator” license plate. This did not make it through the 2020 legislative session but has passed the House this week on a vote of 124 to 0.
House Bill 2238 lifts the $500,000 limit on gifts that school districts, governing bodies of cities, or both jointly are able to accept for the express purpose of the construction or furnishing of a library. The bill passed on a vote of 124 to 0.
In the Senate
Senate Bill 51 creates the foster care report card intended to monitor the progress and achievement of foster children in the school system. This bill was lost in 2020 with the early end of the session due to COVID. The Governor enacted the program through an executive order for this year and now the Senate has voted to make the report card a permanent program. The bill passed on a vote of 39 to 0.
Senate Bill 62 makes adjustments to school vision screening in order to ensure that no children fall through the cracks when they move. It also establishes the Kansas Children’s Vision Health and School Readiness Commission. The bill passed on a vote of 35 to 4 with Senators Hilderbrand, Peck, Pyle, and Tyson voting NO.
Senate Bill 63 provides ACT college entrance exams and workkeys assessments to non-public school students. This is already available to public school students. There is no cost to this expansion as the state’s contract with ACT allows the expansion. The bill passed on a vote of 39 to 0.
Senate Bill 185 authorizes the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Commission) to adopt rules and regulations, establish a sign language interpreter registration process, and provide guidelines for communication access services. The bill has advanced to final action on a voice vote. A final action vote will happen later.
Senate Bill 235 mandates that all public schools offer the option of full-time in person instruction to any student by March 26, 2021. KNEA opposed the bill along with KASB, USA and other education advocacy organizations. It is believed that such decisions would be best left in the hands of local school boards in consultation with their county health officer and district patrons. The bill passed on a vote of 26 to 12. All Democrats voted NO as did Republican Senator John Doll. A motion by Senator Dinah Sykes to add COVID “hazard pay” for teachers was defeated on a vote of 11 to 25. All Democrats vote AYE, no Republicans supported the amendment. Senator Pyle passed.