‘Gotcha’ politics is no way to run a legislature


When we reconvened after turnaround on Wednesday, we reconsidered HB 2212 that I wrote about last week.

We were asked to vote the bill down so those who thought the bill contained the original part and the amendment would have the opportunity to vote on that; we had the assurance the bill would return soon with both parts.

Using “gotcha” politics is truly no way to run the legislature, so I voted to kill the bill on the faith that it would return for another vote. I will continue to push for property-tax relief.

Some more of the significant bills passed in the House before turnaround were:

• The House modified a tuition grant program in HB2435, hoping to boost technical education enrollment; at the same time the Senate modified the rules on technology education, which could open the program for more effective access.

We hope it will lead to more high school graduates and holders of GEDs to obtain technical training during or after high school, as well as training high school students for careers.

• We have companion bills dealing with the safety of children. First, HB 2533 substantially modifies the list of people who must report suspected child abuse.

In addition to those already required to report, the list now includes: employees and administrators of both public and private educational institutions; foster families licensed by the state; employees and volunteers of organizations which provide youth recreation services; church employees and volunteers—yes, this includes Sunday school teachers and youth volunteers, but not pastors when in the scope of the penitential privilege—and state employees with the authority to work with kids.

There was strong advocacy to follow the lead of states that require all adults to report suspected child abuse, but the bill stops short of that. It impacts only those in a clear position of authority with children, expecting us to keep our eyes open and disclose what we see. The Penn State scandal spawned this bill to tighten up our law.

The second bill is HB 2534, creating a crime when a child’s caretaker (parent, guardian, etc.) does not report the disappearance or death of a child under 13 when the failure to report is designed to conceal a crime. This bill is a result of Caylee Anthony’s disappearance in Florida.

• Business owners and bankers will want to know about this one: HB 2621 would change the name we select for debtors on financing statements, often referred to as a UCC-1.

Deciding the name to put on a financing statement has always been a bit of a challenge, not in theory but in fact. It becomes problematic when a person doesn’t go by his given name—such as John Robert Brookens going by the name “Bob.” Businesses have tripped up for years over this, and I’ve gone to court for a client over the issue.

The bill would require using the name shown on the person’s unexpired driver’s license or state-issued ID card. There are other rules for those times when this new rule isn’t enough, so if this passes the Senate, I suggest interested people thoroughly review the final version. A couple of bankers I know were rather giddy at the prospect of a logical solution to the matter.

Once again: Why do we want to be like Texas? Consider property taxes on owner-occupied housing as a percentage of median home value, effective tax rate and state rank (1 is bad; 50 is good):

Kansas, 1.35 percent, ranked 15; Colorado, 0.615 percent, ranked 43; Missouri 0.94 percent, ranked 27; Nebraska, 1.82 percent, ranked 6; Oklahoma, 0.80 percent, ranked 33; Texas, 1.90 percent, ranked fourth! (Source: The Tax Foundation, Facts & Figures 2012)

You may e-mail me at: Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at either 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861 or Kansas State Capitol Building, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612; or call me at 620-382-2133 or 785-296-7636. If you want the entire link for a source, just let me know.


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