Schultz, Barker update Marion residents on state legislation

Education, budget and mortgage registration fee were only some of the issues Kansas Sen. Clark Schultz, R-35th District, and Rep. John Barker, R-70th District, talked about March 1 at the Marion Community Center.

Until last Friday, Schultz said legislators were wondering what the Kansas Supreme Court would decide about the school finance lawsuit and whether the state will need to increase spending.

?We expect that if (the court) were to order additional funding for kindergarten through 12th grade education, it would immediately be the front and center issue,? Schultz said.

The high court ruled in the school finance case that Kansas? school funding was unconstitutional and ordered lawmakers to fund poor school districts.

In addition to school finance, Schultz said, other budget issues are always in play.

?We did pass a two-year budget last year to theoretically make it easier this year, and to give agencies time to plan and to know what money they were going to have,? he said.

Another way this decision would help was in not having to deal with every single aspect of the budget, thus making it less complicated, he said.

?The budget is always the big issue and it always has been every year I have been in the legislature,? Schultz said. ?So, I think it will continue to be this year, too.?

Other issues Schultz said many people might have read about or heard about involved decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana.

?It got a little bit of play this year,? he said.

Religious freedom

The issue of religious freedom surfaced regarding the debate involving businesses who they will and will not serve as a customer, based on sexual orientation.

Schultz said many of those types of issues ?pop up? and draw a lot of interest by the press.

?We also have a Kansas fossil on display at the capital building,? he said.

Schultz commended Barker, who is in his term in the House.

?The representative you sent is a deliberate guy who listens to both sides of the issues and tries to make very educated votes in the House,? he said.

In fact, Schultz said the House passed a bill that would have designated a fossil as the state fossil.

?That happens from time-to-time,? he said. ?When I was young, we had basically the buffalo, meadowlark, cottonwood tree, sunflower, and now it?s the state dirt?state everything.?

Mortgage registration fee

Schultz said the effort to eliminate the mortgage registration fee has generated concern from counties.

?There?s a push from the Realtors association and bankers association to do something about the mortgage registration fee,? Schultz said. ?It is a tax you pay based on how much you are borrowing when you buy your house or business.?

If someone borrows $100,000, they pay a tax when recording that mortgage.

?The bankers and Realtors association don?t believe this is the fairest way to handle this because it?s taxing on debt,? he said.

Meanwhile, counties are saying that may be fine, but the fee can?t just be eliminated.

?If it was, there would be a shortfall in revenue to our county, and they are correct,? Schultz said.

This is an issue the Legislature is trying to resolve by doing away with the unfairness and not doing away with revenue for counties, he said.

City elections

Barker said one Senate bill would move city elections from the April date to November date.

?The House bill came out of the elections committee and it would have been on odd number years,? he said.

The House bill is dead because it was not above the line and it did not come from exempt committee.

Part of the push for partisan city elections is coming from Johnson County.

?Johnson County has very strong Republican and Democratic parties,? he said. ?They like partisan.?

Barker said he has tried to explain how in western counties, communities are used to working together.

?Nobody ever asks if you are Democrat or Republican on a school board,? he said. ?They want to know if you have kids in the school district or had kids in the school district.?

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