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Under the Dome - February 13, 2013

KPERS Coalition reacts to latest defined contribution retirement plan

The following is a statement from Lisa Ochs, Chair of Keeping the Kansas Promise Coalition, in response to Governor Brownback's proposal to reopen the debate to move the State's public employee pension system (KPERS) to a defined contribution or 401(k) style system as presented to the House Pensions Committee today by State Budget Director Steve Anderson.

"It is unfortunate that Governor Brownback is continuing to promote a defined contribution style approach for the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS).  During the prolonged KPERS debate over the last year, one irrefutable fact has been made very clear: a defined contribution plan will cost Kansas taxpayers billions more in their hard earned money while benefitting special interests.  In addition, the Governor's proposal to take on more bonded indebtedness to address the unfunded liability issue actually extends the payment period to 2050 and is unwise and fiscally irresponsible.

The 2012 Legislature passed, and Governor Brownback signed into law, a new landmark cash balance reform measure that puts KPERS on a path to stability while also addressing the unfunded liability issue.  As the Executive Director of KPERS recently testified before the House Appropriations Committee, the cash balance plan shores up the system and positions Kansas to extinguish the unfunded liability by 2033, seventeen years sooner than the Governor's new plan.  If allowed to go into effect, this plan will ensure dedicated public employees, whether they be state road workers, local fire fighters, or school teachers a chance to have an adequate retirement they can count on."

Senate hears bill on internet protection act

The Senate Education Committee had a hearing today on Senate Bill 104, the Kansas Children's Internet Protection Act.

Under the bill, every school district would have to "implement and enforce technology protection measures to ensure that no minor has access to visual depictions that are child pornography, harmful to minors or obscene." Districts would be required to have policies to enforce this and ensure that those policies are available to the public.

Schools already use internet filtering software ("technology protection measures"). This bill also provides schools could not be held liable "for any damages arising out of or related to a minor gaining access to visual depictions that are child pornography, harmful to minors or obscene through the use of a computer that is owned or controlled by such school district." Essentially if a school has filtering software and the appropriate policies in place and a student managed to circumvent the system, the school would be protected.

KNEA testified in support of the bill.

One anti-union bill will not move forward; others on hold

House Commerce Committee Chairman Marvin Kleeb announced today that his committee would not be taking up House Bill 2123. This bill would make mandatory collective bargaining and payroll deduction of union dues for public employees illegal in Kansas.

There is still no word on the status of HB 2023, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce supported bill designed to "get rid of public sector unions." This bill has passed the House and had a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee. No action has yet been taken in that committee.

House Bill 2085 which effectively eliminates collective bargaining for teachers had a hearing in the House Commerce Committee but no action has yet been taken on it in committee.

House Ed Committee approves insurance salesman access bill

The House Education Committee today approved HB 2221 which denies school districts the ability to control access to employee mailboxes, emails, and meetings by any insurance salesman or professional development provider. This bill is aimed at doing one of two things: 1) denying teacher bargaining agents (mostly KNEA and AFT) the chance to speak to employees in a meeting or 2) require school districts to let anyone selling liability insurance or professional development programs the same access as the bargaining agent.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

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