Archive for Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bills start moving in the House

February 22, 2007

Days of debate

Things finally seem to be moving in the Kansas House of Representatives. With only one more week to hear House bills on the floor, things have started to heat up. Though the mechanics of legislative procedure have been running like a well-oiled machine for many weeks, the strokes of a productive session are now plainly visible to even a casual observer. Twenty-five bills passed the House on final action this week alone. Here are some of the highlights.

Franchise tax

Last Monday saw a final action vote on HB 2031, the franchise tax three-year repeal. The measure passed 91-30 changing the rate at which affected businesses are taxed as franchisees and repeals the tax completely in three years time. Repealing the tax was a top priority outlined in the 2007 House Republican Caucus Agenda.

Other tax relief being sought by the 2007 House Republican Legislative Agenda includes restructuring the state's corporate income tax rates, permanently reducing the state's unemployment insurance rate, exempting social security income for state income tax and supporting a constitutional amendment to ease the property tax burden on Kansas citizens, especially those reaching the maximum social security retirement age.

HB 2031 moves to the Senate for debate but the House expects to hear and pass many more bills pertaining to relieving tax burden and improving business climate in Kansas. For more information about the passage of HB 2301, visit: http://www.kansashouse.org/media/news-releases/leadership-news/kansas-house-approves-agenda-goal

Alexa's Law

Alexa's Law is named in memory of Alexa Lynn Brooks, the unborn child of Chelsea Brooks who was murdered last summer in Wichita. Right now under Kansas law, prosecutors can only file charges against the murderer for the death of the mother.

Section II of Alexa's Law changes the Kansas Criminal Code definition of "person" and "human being" also to mean an unborn child and would allow the accused to face two murder charges. The federal government and 34 other states have a similar law already in place.

"House Republicans outlined Alexa's Law as a top agenda priority this session because it is sound policy that protects lives and prosecutes those who would harm our children," Majority Leader Ray Merrick said. "I was pleased to see the body soundly reject efforts to alter the intent of this bill. I am confident that the final vote will reflect the House's dedication to fighting the kind of heinous crimes that took the lives of Chelsea and Alexa Brooks."

For more information regarding Alexa's Law, visit:

http://www.kansashouse.org/republican-caucus/republican-members/brunk/house-judiciary-committee-holds-hearing-on-alexa2019s-law

Promised priorities

Looking back at the first half of the 2007 legislative session, House Republicans have steadily worked toward achieving the priorities outlined in the House Republican Caucus Agenda. To date, nearly all of the House agenda items have been addressed with bi-partisan support of decisive legislation.

Education

SB 30 -- Passing the House 105-17, the measure pre-funds year two and three of the school finance plan and addresses the Regent's crumbling classrooms bond issue. It was amended on the House floor to include a $40 million a year debt reduction fund.

As a side note, the Governor's budget does not include any additional funding for K-12 education or deferred maintenance

Health care

Creation of health task force -- This 13-member task force is focused on finding ways to make Kansas healthier by assisting individuals in taking care of their own health. The current health care system is broken and we are charging this task force with working toward massive reform this year.

Crime and public safety

HB 2006 Alexa's Law has tentatively passed the house establishing the intentional murder of an unborn child as a separate crime from the murder of the mother.

HB 2074 passed the house allowing a juvenile's fingerprints and photographs to be taken if arrested for a felony crime or class A or B misdemeanor or assault.

Next week

at the Statehouse

In the final week before "turn-around," the legislative deadline is scheduled for Saturday. The House will work bills originated by House members and committees while the Senate does the same. After this deadline, the House then hears Senate bills for the remainder of the regular session and the Senate hears bills already passed by the House. The period for bill introductions has passed. The hearings on House bills are coming to a close and next week will see many bills brought before the committee of the whole for final consideration from the entire House of Representatives.

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