Senate Passes Bill on Public Lobbyists Out of Committee

Senate Bill 43, a bill requiring any lobbyist paid with tax dollars to file a report with the ethics commission detailing how much tax money was used to pay that lobbyist. It would apply to lobbyists employed full time or contracted for a period of time.

The issue has been brought up over the past few years as the Legislature has grown more conservative and sometimes find their bills opposed by municipal or school district lobbyists. They even passed a bill prohibiting any state dollars to be used to lobby for gun restrictions. This came to a head when a Legislator challenged a lobbyist for the Wyandotte Unified Government who came to testify against a gun bill that disallowed local ordinances on guns that are stricter than state law.

Many bills have been proposed, but never passed, that would have prohibited tax dollars to be used for lobbying at all, meaning that local units of government – cities, counties, school districts – would not have any voice in the state capitol.

On the school district level, this bill would not prohibit spending on lobbying, but it would require lobbyists for school districts (KASB and a few contract lobbyists) to publicly report exactly how many tax dollars were expended for that purpose.

House Education Committee Hears Bills on Data Privacy, Sexual Assault Policies

The House Education Committee today took up HB 2262, a bill which would allow parents to submit complaints about alleged data breaches to the State Department of Education. KSDE would investigate any such complaints and, if they were to find a breach occurred and the district did not rectify the situation within 30 days, the district would be fined $5000/day until the situation was addressed.

Proponents – Rep. John Bradford and two parents – allege that such breaches occur all the time and personally identifiable data is released. One parent complained that such a breach allowed colleges and credit card companies to send mail to his son.

Under current Kansas law and the Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act, personally identifiable data can only be released under very narrow circumstances and such release requires notification of the parents and the opportunity for parents to opt their children out of such a release. The FERPA rules on disclosure can be reviewed by clicking here.

The second bill heard today, HB 2266, would require postsecondary education institutions to adopt a policy on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

The bill would require colleges and universities to adopt victim-centered policies and protocols on these issues and establish an outreach program to make students aware of them. The bill includes a number of specific items which must be included in such policies.

There was one proponent for the bill, a student from the University of Kansas. The Board of Regents submitted written testimony as neutral. There were no opponents.

No action was taken today on either bill.

House Ed Budget Hearing Bill to Reduce CTE Rewards Program

House Bill 2394 is in a hearing this evening. You may be familiar with a program passed at Governor Brownback’s request in prior years that encourages students to complete vocational training and earn a certificate prior to graduating from high school. The bill provided rewards for school districts that helped students complete these programs in the amount of $1000/student completing a certificate.

The incentive program was very successful. You have probably seen press coverage of the Governor appearing in school districts to hand out checks. The program was so successful, it seems, that we now have a bill to limit the money available.

HB 2394 would reduce the award from $1000/student to $250/student and cap the total amount available for such awards at $750,000/year.

The Committee may take action on the bill tomorrow.