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Under the Dome - February 7, 2013

No action on anti-union bills yet

So far this week - and it looks like this might hold through tomorrow - there has been no action taken on HB 2023 (silencing public employees) by the Senate Commerce Committee and no working of HB 2085 (dismantling collective bargaining) by the House Commerce Committee.

As has been reported in the press, some Senators have expressed concerns that HB 2023 might not withstand a court challenge. The proponents, rather than advance a bill that would drag the state to court and a possible rejection of the bill on constitutional grounds, have expressed that they would like to give the bill more consideration to ensure its constitutionality.

We can't say for certain what is going on with HB 2085 except perhaps that the bill is so confusing and so complex that there may be efforts to try to repair it before moving on.

Also still in the hopper is HB 2123 which is an outright ban on mandatory collective bargaining and all payroll deductions for public sector unions - dues and PACs. This bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Up Monday for a hearing is HB 2221. This bill would prohibit school districts from limiting access to school emails and mailboxes to a bargaining agent. Currently school districts are permitted to restrict access to the exclusive bargaining agent by contract. This bill would allow other organizations interested in taking bargaining rights away or decertifying the bargaining unit to come into a school and distribute materials at will via mailboxes or emails.

Dyslexia bill heard in Senate Ed Committee

Senate Bill 44 had a hearing in the Senate Education Committee today. This bill requires school districts to provide services to students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia by a physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The Committee room was packed today with parents, students, and advocates for those with dyslexia.

Dyslexia bills have become an annual event in the capitol and KNEA has usually appeared as neutral on the bills. This year's bill is a better crafted bill and KNEA appeared as a proponent while asking for a few changes to give parents and schools more flexibility in determining what services will be provided and for how long, changing a requirement for teacher coursework, and amending a service implementation provision that could be very costly through no fault of the school. Our recommendations were supported in testimony from the Wichita Schools USD 259.

The Kansas Association of School Boards and several special education directors opposed the bill.

The Kansas Legislature is getting plenty of press

This week the Kansas Legislature and Governor Brownback have been getting plenty of national exposure including features in the Huffington Post, Esquire Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. But the press in Kansas and Missouri has been quite fascinating as well.

Here we share with you two particularly readable pieces.

First from the Hutch News, an editorial entitled "Laughable Legislation" taking State Senator Greg Smith (R-Overland Park) to task for sponsoring job protection legislation for himself while actively promoting anti-union bills for other Kansas workers. Click here to read Laughable Legislation.

Then from the Kansas City Star, an editorial entitled "Pointless Attacks on Unions in Kansas, Missouri Legislatures" blasts those two legislatures for concentrating their energy on attacking unions when there are so many other pressing issues with which to deal. Click here to read Pointless Attacks on Unions.

Would you like to weigh in with legislators on HB 2023 or other bills?

Here are contacts for the members of the Senate Commerce Committee who will soon consider the fate of HB 2023:

Julia Lynn -
Susan Wagle -
Pat Apple -
Jim Denning -
Jay Emler -
Jeff Longbine -
Jeff Melcher -
Rob Olson -
Mary Pilcher-Cook -
Tom Holland -
Oletha Faust-Goudeau -

To leave a message for any other legislator or the Governor, feel free to use our handy "Contact Your Legislators" web portal:

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