Legislative update from Sen. Pat Pettey

Legislative update from Sen. Pat Pettey, D-6th Dist.

April 4, 2014

In this issue:

• Senate adjourns this week

• School finance

• Community forum

• Kansas Health Institute

• Health information

Senate adjourns this week  

Legislators worked long days this week finishing legislative business before the session break.

The session is scheduled to end April 4.

After this date, bills that haven’t passed both chambers can no longer be debated although certain bills are exempt from this deadline.

Following a short break, legislators will return for the veto session in late April. At that time, exempt bills, conference reports, and any vetoes by the governor will be considered.

If you have any questions about any of the legislation being considered, feel free to contact my office at 785-296-7375 or stop by my legislative office, located in 125-E of the Topeka Statehouse. My assistant’s name is Jennifer Parson.

School finance  

The Senate will likely not finish today, but will convene again on Saturday, April 5, to work school funding legislation in response to the Gannon decision handed down by the Supreme Court.

I have voted “no” on this legislation, and join with Sen. Anthony Hensley in his explanation of that “no” vote, offered on the Senate floor:

“Madam President:

“I vote no on HB 2506.

“Less than one month ago the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed that the legislature has created an unconstitutional school finance system and then was the time to fix it. They told us to resolve inequities by fully funding capital outlay and local option budget equalization.

“Unfortunately, we have waited until the final two days of the legislative session to address this issue. When the equity issue should have been this legislature’s first and foremost priority.

“It is absurd that we are discussing more cuts to important areas of education – at-risk, virtual schools, transportation – to fix this. More cuts are not the solution.

“This bill makes unnecessary and unvetted new education policy such as blocking the implementation of the Common Core standards, creating a corporate tax scholarship credit, eliminating due process for teachers, and establishing a property tax credit without a fiscal note for families using private schools.

“The school finance formula is not broken and should not be changed. The formula is underfunded. And, if we really want to put money into the classroom, we should be restoring the cuts and raising the base state aid per pupil.”

– Anthony Hensley

This session on the Senate floor continued until 1:45 a.m. Friday morning. We debated the education funding bill for 6 hours.

Update from the House (from the Topeka Capital-Journal):

Both Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, urged the House to pass a compromise school finance bill Friday, in a bipartisan effort.

“While I was hoping to vote for a little bit better product, this does address the most important issue court set before us, which is that we need to fund the equalization pats of the (K-12 funding) formula,” Davis said about Senate Bill 218. To read this story, visit http://m.cjonline.com/news/2014-04-04/house-oks-bipartisan-school-finance-bill.

Community forum  

Members of the Wyandotte County legislative delegation will participate in a Town Hall Forum sponsored by the Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce. The forum will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. April 12, at the West Wyandotte Public Library, 1737 N 82nd St., Kansas City, Kan. All are welcome to attend, and I hope to see you there. I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you and answer any questions you may have about this legislative session.

Kansas Health Institute  

According to the 2014 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Kansas, starting with the most healthy, are Johnson, followed by Riley, Pottawatomie, Waubaunsee and Stevens. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with the least healthy, are Woodson, Elk, Wyandotte, Chautaqua, and Decatur.

The Rankings provide county-to-county comparisons within a state. In Kansas, this year’s Rankings show that within communities that rank lowest, babies are 50 percent more likely to have low birth weight and children are more than four times more likely to live in poverty than in communities that rank at the top.

Health information

From the American Heart Association:

“Children consume 45 percent more snack food when exposed to food advertising. 34 percent of food products in ads targeting children and teens are candy and snacks.”

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