The 2020 Kansas legislative session is half-way over. We have reached “turnaround”, the point at which all bills must have passed their chamber of origin or die.

Naturally there are ways around these time limits because, you know, sometimes you need more time to conspire. First, any bills in a timeline-exempt committee are still available in the second half of the session. 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. Exempt bills are those sponsored by, referred to, or acted upon by an exempt committee. So on the last day of the first half, there are plenty of bills “referred to” the exempt committees so they can still be taken up after turnaround. This is known as “blessing” the bill.

Some education-related bills that were not debated on the House floor were “blessed.” Among those are two of the “voucher-palooza” bills: 1) HB 2465, Representative Steve Huebert’s (R-Valley Center) radical expansion of the current tuition tax credit voucher program intended to allow private schools to recruit high-achieving students from the best public schools, and 2) HB 2552, from Representatives Williams and Erickson that would give a voucher to any 3rd grader at Level 1 on the ELA state assessment or any 4th grader at Levels 1 or 2. Also blessed was Rep. Huebert’s bill requiring all high school students to pass a citizenship test in order to graduate from high school. Two other voucher bills proposed by the wonders at the Kansas Policy Institute, HB 2724 and HB 2725, were introduced in exempt committees and so remain available to anti-public education advocates in the second half of the session. Click here to read our article about all four of these bills.

Another blessed House bill is HB 2586 which limits the ability of public employees to pay dues to a professional association by payroll deduction. This would apply to KNEA dues but also to any other professional association – administrator organizations, subject area associations, the librarians associations, or those for counselors, social workers, nurses, speech and language pathologists – anyone working a public school, a state agency or facility, or a municipality. A Senate version of the bill, SB 361, was initially introduced in the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee so it is still available for debate.

Education related bills debated at turnaround in the House:

  • HB 2503 re-amortizes KPERS and pays back $286 million. This was amended to remove re-amortization and with just the $286 million repayment. It passed 125 to 0.
  • HB 2507 makes school districts provide liability insurance for students participating in workplace learning programs, was passed 97 to 27 with one House member not voting.
  • HB 2619 changes the schedule for actuarial reviews of KPERS. It was passed 118 to 7.
  • HB 2487 changes language in education from “emotional disturbance” to “emotional disability.” It passed 118 to 7.
  • HB 2506 extends license reciprocity from only military personnel and spouses to anyone moving to Kansas. It passed 123 to 2.
  • HB 2540 extends high-density, at-risk funding for five years and places some restrictions on the expenditure of at-risk funds. It passed 111 to 14.

Education related bills debated at turnaround in the Senate:

  • SB 284 provides motor vehicle disability placards for school districts and interlocal cooperatives which acts as a handicapped license plate for districts and individuals from the district transporting students. it passed 40-0 on final action.
  • SB 271 repeals the sunset provision for the high-density weighting. It passed 40-0 on final action.
  • SB 337 extends the provision regarding the ACT college entrance exam and WorkKeys assessments to students enrolled in non-public schools at no charge. It passed 39-0 on final action.
  • SB 382 amends the capital improvement state aid schedule to exclude Fort Leavenworth USD 207. It passed 40-0 on final action.
  • SB 230 provides for the authority of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to establish a sign language interpreter registration process. It passed 39-0 on final action.
  • SB 384 requires the Kansas State Department of Education and Kansas Department for Children and Families to prepare an annual academic report card regarding children in foster care. Passed 39-0 on final action.
  • Substitute for SB 335 authorizes school districts to pay the tuition for a student’s dual or concurrent enrollment in a post-secondary educational institution and requires a waiver for foster children who are in dual or concurrent enrollment programs. It passed 39-0 on final action

Legislators are now on break and will return on Wednesday, March 4.