The legislative session is still dragging on. This is the latest anyone can remember that session has gone except for special session.
It is interesting how legislative members find something to do as several issues are being brought up that would probably have waited until next session if we had finished last week.
At this point, three fairly major legislative issues are being brought up and pushed forward.
The first is carving out developmentally disabled from Kancare. This was an issue before wrap-up session began, but the long wrap-up session has allowed a longer time frame for it to gain traction. Now, there is an amendment in the budget that should address the concerns of the developmentally disabled, but the preference of the developmentally disabled community still prefers the carve-out.
The second issue is what has been known as heartbeat legislation. This is a pro-life issue that says if a heartbeat is detectable, abortions are prohibited. We did not have a bill this year, but one has been introduced for next year. What is happening is since we are still in the Statehouse, an individual is going around and making a list of legislators? position on this issue.
The third issue is being pursued because of the long wrap-up on the question of the common core curriculum in schools. Whenever our children are involved, it gets emotional very quickly. Common core is essentially a new method of testing and tracking student achievement.
This is a very difficult issue to discern as there is a lot of misinformation both for and against. Some see it as a federal takeover of our school curriculum, and yet the state?s Depart?ment of Education says Kansas has not received any federal money specifically for common core implementation. This can still be addressed next session if necessary.
These three issues have been especially active as large amounts of spare time are spent finding a cause or distraction. These are all issues that deserve to have full hearings and appropriate action, but having major pieces of policy inserted into the budget does not seem an appropriate way to properly settle these policy questions.
I admit to being something of a process person and even if the policies are good, I do not care for the end-run process that is being attempted.
A budget agreement has been reached, but is waiting for the tax bill before it will be run. Of course, a budget this large has thousands of pieces to it, some good and some not so good.
My understanding is that some money is still being transferred from the Kansas Department of Transportation and that higher education will be cut by 3 percent. I also understand that K-12 education funding should remain relatively static, so those are important issues to know about.
When we actually receive a copy of the budget report, we will be able to look up various issues important to our legislative districts.
The tax issue has not had the same success as the budget. A great deal of disagreement remains on taxes, and finding a majority vote in the House will be extremely difficult. The issues really boils down to which state services get cut further, or which taxes will be increased to pay for those services. A very sticky question with lots of political implications. Hopefully, common sense will prevail.
Even though the session will end sometime soon, please feel free to contact me in the interim if you have questions or concerns. It is always a pleasure to help.
Don Schroeder, R-Hesston, represents the 74th District, which includes Hillsboro and roughly the southern half of Marion County, the southeast corner of McPherson County and all but the southeast corner of Harvey County.