Bills beginning to make it to the floor

by Rep. Don Schroeder

Kansas House of Representatives

The legislative session continues and bills are being heard in committees with a few bills passing out for floor action. We finally debated a few bills on the House floor, including changing the judicial appointment process.

We had debate on changing judicial selection on the House floor Thursday. The proposed change would have to be voted on by the general public and would have adopted the federal judicial appointment model. This is a Constitutional amendment requiring 84 votes to pass to the Senate, but fell short by 16 votes, so the selection process remains the same for now.

Budget committees are meeting, but since changing to a two-year budget a couple of years ago, the second budget year is primarily a touch-up and not a full-blown process. The Ag Budget Committee met yesterday to review adjustments for the 2017 year and did not change anything for now, although the veterinary examiners were combined with the Department of Agriculture for a two-year trial, ending this year. No budget was brought by the vet examiners for approval so that budget is in limbo.

We received January revenue numbers Feb. 1. The actual revenue received was $7 million below projections. For the total budget year to date, the number is around $35 million lower than expected. Because of the sudden drop-off of revenue since 2012, the state is not able to maintain a carryover balance, making any shortfall below estimates a crisis.

It is frustrating to me that the state continues to operate from crisis to crisis rather than simply fix the problem and go on.

I have received many emails on HB 2504. That is the school-realignment bill, or some call it the forced-consolidation bill. The bill, as I read and understand it, would basically create either countywide school districts or a minimum of 1,500 students in each school district.

Being from a rural area, people are thinking about how long their kids would ride the bus and also think their child would get lost in the crowd in a large school system. Many emails stated they had moved to a district with a small school specifically because of the smaller size.

The Education Commit?tee held a hearing on 2504 Wednesday, but no further action has been taken. I am not on that committee, but attended the hearing to learn more about the bill. It is unknown at this time if the bill will be voted on in committee. That is at the discretion of the chairman.

The Appropriations Committee passed a budget bill Thursday. It was done quickly, so I hope it is done correctly. We should be receiving information about the budget soon. There could be a vote on the House budget as soon as next week. It will be interesting to see how that vote goes.

It is beginning to appear the overall plan is to simply pass the budget adjustments and then get out of town, perhaps as early as 60 or 65 days. We did receive a new session calendar that ends the regular session on March 25, which is day 68.

Keeping the session short may seem simple, the reality is that so much bargaining goes on for votes I would expect there to be several items brought before us at the last minute, even if session is short. One of those last-minute votes may well be moving the property tax lid to an earlier date.

Rep. Don Schroeder represents District 74, which includes much of the southern half of Marion County.