Things are certainly heating up in the legislative session. Bills are coming out of committees and stacking up under the line for possible floor debate.
As legislation hurries along, occasionally a misstep needs to be corrected either by sending a bill back, or that the other cham??ber needs to fix. That is a large part of what the legislative process is about: finding and fixing errors so the intent is clear.
As of today, more than 50 bills are under the line. We say ?under the line? as there is a physical line on the House calendar and any bills above the line are up for floor debate on that day, but any bills below the line are cued for possible debate another day.
The majority leader, together with the speaker, decide if and when any bills below the line make it above the line for floor debate. Not all bills below the line make it to the full floor.
Several taxation bills below are the line. One attracting attention currently is a bill that would better define what type of manufacturing equipment would be classified as real property and or personal property. An ongoing dispute has persisted in a southeast Kansas county for several years, and resolution of this issue by the Legislature is needed at some point. Another bill would make changes to and rename the Court of Tax Appeals. So far, the ?Fair Tax? bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.
On a related subject, we have had an audit of some of the tax incentive programs recently and the results suggest we should do a better job of evaluating whether programs are working as planned or if the money is being wasted. The Depart?ment of Commerce is normally responsible for the evaluations.
Several bills related to crimes and criminal punishments are making their way above the line. Some of the more notable bills relate to human trafficking and related crimes and punishment.
Human trafficking is often thought to be something that happens in other parts of the world, but it?s surprising how common it is even in Kansas. Many kids who run away from home end up in the human trafficking stream, and most of those end up in the sex trade. Along with that, these kids become addicted to drugs, making it even more difficult to escape the situation.
The past couple of years, the Legislature has been trying to clean up the statute books by repealing laws that are no longer used or obsolete. I always like those because the bills are only four or five lines long and simply say which statute is repealed. Of course, that means going to the books and actually looking up what the statute says that is being eliminated.
Proposals to change spring elections to the fall are being worked on and the bill to eliminate the mortgage registration fee issue is still alive. The main issues about eliminating the mortgage registration fee are what source of revenue would replace it, and the fact that a small part of that fee was used for historic preservation projects. Many are interested in maintaining the historic preservation funding.
Les Mason, from McPher?son, was elected to replace Clark Shultz as the representative for House District 73. Shultz is the newly elected senator for District 35, filling the vacancy created by the governor?s appointment of Jay Emler to the Kansas Corporation Commission.
Rep. Mason was sworn in two days after his election and will be immersed in the process very quickly as we are nearly at the mid-point in the session.
Sometimes it seems the Legislature has several fits and starts, but in the end the legislation is usually common sense, although mistakes are made. Let me know if you have concerns with proposals we are considering. The Kansas Legisla?ture website (kslegislature.org) has contact information for all legislators.
Don Schroeder represents District 74 , which includes much of southern Marion County.