On Friday both the House and Senate honored veterans of the Vietnam War with a resolution and public praise for their service to our country. It is sad to look back at a time in our country’s history of how when these men came back home they were criticized for the decisions the policy makers made, not them. Our soldiers go and fight anywhere the country sends them, sacrificing their own personal wellbeing to protect our freedoms. It was a great honor to meet so many of our veterans and thank them for their service. We are currently working on a day of remembrance for Veterans in Miami County. If you would like to participate, please contact my office at 785.291.3500.
In remembrance of Sgt. Jamie Jarboe who passed away March 21st, the governor has ordered all flags lowered on March 31st. Sgt Jarboe passed away after a year of battling injuries sustained in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Sgt Jarboe, a native of Frankfort, Indiana was stationed at Ft. Riley with the 1st Infantry Division.
Everyday parents make choices for their children as they grow up. These choices are to ensure the child’s success in life. One of those choices, education, has for years been restricted to where you live. The House this week took up a bill which would target 18 high-poverty school districts which are at high risk for underperforming students. The proposal would provide eligible students with an opportunity to attend qualified schools of their parents' choice by receiving scholarships, which are funded by taxpayer contributions. Taxpayer contributions for these scholarships would be eligible for a state income tax credit. The policy aim of this bill is to help children who are falling through the cracks of public education.
Only 1 percent of the students in these school districts would be eligible as part of this small program and the student must be on the free lunch program to qualify. This provision helps protect school districts from what they fear would be an exodus from public schools leaving them with a smaller budget.
This bill is a small step as part of a way to improve the proficiency of low performing students. The bill would have revealed how providing tax credits to a few students would affect our schools and what benefits could be accomplished to provide opportunity for these students. Increased competition between public and private schools in this small program helps to improve the classroom as schools are forced to compete for the same population of students. However, on a vote on the floor of the House, the bill was defeated.
In an effort to update Kansas Statute, terminology was defined to more accurately describe individual’s condition and remove hurtful language with negative connotations. The bill was advocated for by several disability groups including Disability Rights Center of Kansas which argued the change would create a “person first” language in statute showing respect for those with disabilities. Similar legislation passed the U.S. Congress unanimously in 2010 and was signed into law.
The latest congressional map passed the House and now leaves the House with just a Senate district map to pass before completing our job in the redistricting process. The congressional map call “Bob Dole” would leave Wichita and the fourth district largely together. The first district would move further east to pick up the needed population it has lost since the last census. In the process the committee works to make all the districts equal. The second district still includes Shawnee County but it would divide it down the middle with half in the first district. The third district would now include the northeastern corner of Miami County but would lose all of Douglas County. Wyandotte County would not change.
On Friday the senate worked both of our maps on the floor. The senate then failed both maps and has yet to pass any of their own. Both of the house maps, the congressional and house districts, passed by wide margins in the house. For a copy of the map or more information contact my office or go to redistricting.ks.gov
To protect an individual’s right of conscious regarding abortion, the house worked a bill which would protect and individual and institution when they exercise the right refuse to perform the procedure. This law would protect a doctor who, due to conscious, would not want to carry out a procedure. Current law allows a person to not participate in a procedure which would result in the termination of a pregnancy. This would update current law to medicine and sterilization procedures. It would also protect the doctor and institution from civil liability as a result of refusal to perform the procedure. The law was also written with KU Medical Center students in mind. The bill would not interfere with their ability to obtain a Kansas Medical License.
Last week the House worked a bill which would require health insurers to provide coverage for behavioral therapy for children to help treat autism at a young age. Kansas first held an Autism taskforce to investigate this issue several years ago which I was a member. We learned then that when children at a young age begin to receive treatment half will be mainstreamed by 3rd grade, 25% will require some assistance but still mainstreamed, and 25% will see little improvement. However, if we don’t treat these kids the state will be responsible for them at a cost of about $3.4 million over their lifetime.
Autism is a difficult disease to deal with and adds a high degree of stress to the family situation. When you have a child who requires 24 hour attention throughout their life it takes a toll on the family. When we look at surrounding states that have passed similar coverage protection, the average cost to people was 11 cents on their insurance premium. At such a low cost with such a high benefit, it just makes sense.
Kansas passed a provision to cover autism for all state employees as a test study for expansion for the whole state. The results were similar to Missouri. This bill also would only affect 30% of insurance policies because of other insurance regulations. There were many who said we shouldn’t pass such a small measure with 70% of others not able to get access. To me if you have three lifejackets and 10 kids in a pool drowning you save the three instead of not helping any and saying if you can’t save them all don’t save any. This doesn’t make sense to me. This is a good bill which will not only help kids and families but will also save the state money in the long run.
Governor Signs Bills
SB 290 amends the Addictions Counselor Licensure Act to clarify the licensure requirements for licensed addiction counselors (LACs) and licensed clinical addiction counselors (LCACs) and address reciprocal licensure for addiction counselors and clinical addiction counselors.
Sub. for SB 282 adds felony violations of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer to the list of conduct and offenses giving rise to civil forfeiture under the Kansas Standard Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Act.
SB 280 amends the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act (KSVPA) to require the person conducting a sexually violent predator evaluation to notify the subject: 1) of the nature and purpose of the evaluation; and 2) that the evaluation is not confidential. The law also clarifies that such evaluations be ordered by the court. Second, it allows parties to call expert witnesses at any “proceeding” conducted under the KSVPA. Current statute states that experts may be called at any “trial” conducted under the Act.
SB 252 amends the Kansas Rules and Regulations Filing Act to update the names of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Division of Health Care Finance of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The new law also changes notice requirements from 30 days to 60 days for new rule-making proceedings when the agency proposes to adopt a final rule and regulation.
HB 2496 amends the definition of "police officer" and "law enforcement officer" within the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Act to include special investigators of the Juvenile Justice Authority (JJA) and any JJA employee employed solely to perform correctional, administrative, or operational duties related to juvenile correctional facilities. Further, it would give the Commissioner of JJA authority to appoint and designate special investigators and to adopt rules and regulations to govern training required for special investigators.
HB 2429 removes the expiration date on the State Education Institution Project Delivery Construction Procurement Act, which applies only to university construction projects and services funded totally with non-state money. (The Act is due to expire on June 30, 2012.)
HB 2507 repeals a statute in the Insurance Code (Chapter 40, Article 35 – mortgage guaranty insurance companies). The statute, KSA 40-3508, relates to a limit, per loan, on the coverage net of reinsurance or payment of indebtedness.
Next week, the House and Senate will be adjourned for meetings back in our district. This time allows us to meet with constituents on issues important to them. As many of the major issues are not yet finished, we will have the ability to get the thoughts and ideas of our district before we go back into session at the end of April to finish up the session.
If there is anything you need or a question I can answer, please let me know by phone at 785.291.3500 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org