Pyle: Change makes for interesting session
By Sen. Dennis Pyle
It has been an interesting legislative session thus far and one that will be memorable in many ways.
We had the State of the State address from Gov. Sam Brownback and then upon his departure we were given another address from our next governor, Jeff Colyer. That is certainly unusual!
With the change came some potential policy differences and repositioning of jobs in the governor;s office, which requires learning new faces and names.
Also, for the first time during my time in the senate, a senator has changed party affiliation from Republican to Independent to run as a candidate for Lt. governor. This had a domino effect as committee responsibilities were re-assigned due to rules governing the senate.
The March 16 date finally arrived and the study by an outside group (requested by the LCC, Legislative Coordinating Council) on school finance hit the fan.
Now there are many studying the report! No one knows where we will end up on this issue, but as expected a bill proposing property tax increases as well as other tax proposals are being discussed to address the court order.
There have been many issues which the senate has dealt with this session and many more that have been before committees that did not reach the floor. Following are a few bills which may be of interest.
Senate Bill 428 changes the licensure requirements for a child care facility operating in a public recreation center or school.
A public recreation center means any building used by a political or taxing subdivision of the state and does not include child care facilities located in an individual’s residence. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.
Senate Bill 340, the Campus Free Speech Protection Act, forbids public universities from creating free-speech zones, and prevents schools from banning speakers based on the content of their speech.
The bill was introduced to protect all students’ First Amendment rights and helps to prevent unfair treatment due to students’ individual beliefs.
Censorship on college campuses has been an issue throughout the nation in recent years, growing even more common since the 2016 election.
The implementation of free-speech zones act as restrictive measure where students are only allowed to express their beliefs or host tabling in designated areas on campus.
Legislators argued during debate that as state institutions, students should be allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights throughout the entire campus. This bill failed 20-20 (21 votes are needed to pass).
House Bill 2145 would prohibit gun ownership to those convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense within the last five years.
The bill would also amend state law by adding throwing star with intent to harm as a crime. Before this amendment, an individual could be held accountable for simply possessing a throwing star. This amendment clarifies that individuals can only be held accountable if they possess a throwing star and have an intent to harm another person. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.
Firearm reciprocity. House Bill 2042 allows for the recognition of out-of-state concealed carry permits. The bill requires individuals with out-of-state concealed carry permits to abide by Kansas law while in the state. This bill passed the Senate 25-15.
On March 7, the Senate Committee on Ethics, Elections and Local Government held a hearing on House Bill 2539 which deals with qualifications for candidates seeking certain statewide office.
The bill would list a minimum age requirement to run for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer and insurance commissioner.
Currently, there is not a minimum age requirement, therefore any current resident of Kansas is eligible to run.
You can research these bills and track them for yourself at the following website: www.kslegislature.org.
Please feel free to contact my office on these or any other issues. You can reach me at: State Capitol, Room 234-E, Topeka, KS 66612, 785-296-7379, or firstname.lastname@example.org