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Under the Dome - March 27, 2013

Floor action over until next week
The House wrapped up all of their floor votes late last night and met only pro-forma this morning meaning no action would be taken on anything today.

The Senate met even later last night grinding through a long list of bills and met today to take final action votes on those debated bills.

Legislators are taking a break Thursday and Friday except for a few conference committees - notably the budget conference committee - and will return Monday for a few days during which they will take up votes to concur or non-concur on various bills and meet in conference to work out any differences they might have.

The time for working new bills is over.

House actions from last night
There were two bills of particular interest to us on the House debate calendar last night and the possibility of intrigue.

Senate Bill 23 came over from the Senate as a simple extension of the 20 mill levy state-wide property tax for schools. This has to be renewed every two years and is usually a sure thing. The House Education Budget Committee amended the bill by adding in the provisions of HB 2003 which makes the first 10% of the LOB mandatory in an attempt to make the Court think the state is providing more money for schools than they actually are.

The bill was further amended on the floor by Rep. Marvin Kleeb to add a change to capital outlay statutes. Under the amendment, the list of things that can be paid for by the capital outlay fund increases to include computer software and performance uniforms. The bill also restores equalization aid to capital outlay.

An attempt by Rep. Amanda Grosserode to amend a local activities budget mill levy into the bill failed on a vote of 41 to 78.

The bill was advanced and later passed on a final action vote of 122 to 0.

Also on the debate calendar was HB 2003, the original mandatory 10% LOB bill which had passed out of committee long ago and was sitting on the House floor awaiting action. With this bill rolled into SB 23 and SB 23 advanced, the House kept skipping over HB 2003 and putting it to the very end of the debate calendar. It was rumored that the bill was being saved for some other purpose - perhaps as a shell into which could be loaded either the ban on common core standards that had failed in committee or the corporate tax credit vouchers that had failed on the floor.

After all other bills had been dispensed with, debate on HB 2003 was called. But the House reversed itself before beginning and ended all debate for the night. So it appears that any efforts to get more voucher or anti-common core votes had not worked. No attempt was made to resurrect either issue.

Other bills that passed in the House last night include:

HB 2403 - This bill provides for $1.5 billion in bonding authority to help pay down the KPERS unfunded liability. Passed 73 to 49.

HB 2391 - This bill changes ancillary school facilities funding, extending such mill levies from the current three years to nine. Passed 64 to 57.

SB 171 - This bill makes some minor changes to school district accounting and reporting procedures. Passed 122 to 0.

HB 2197 - This bill adds four members to the executive board of the Activities Association appointed by the Governor who are not employees of any school affiliated with a league in the Association. (The Senate version has these four appointed by the President and minority leader of the Senate and the Speaker and minority leader of the House.) Passed 69 to 53.

Senate passes "read to succeed"
Governor Brownback's plan to retain third graders who score less than proficient on the state reading assessment continued its long journey last night and this morning.

The bill - now Senate Sub for HB 2140 - made it through one chamber today on a vote of 30 to 10. But the bill is now quite different from the one that was introduced as SB 169 so long ago. The ten NO votes were: Senators Faust-Goudeau, Francisco, Haley, Hawk, Hensley, Holland, Knox, LaTurner, McGinn, and Pettey.

You might recall that at one time, the bill had been voted down in committee on a vote of six to five. But in a bill-working frenzy near the end of committee action time, it was resurrected, amended and passed out of committee. The bill was further amended last night on the Senate floor.

So what does the bill do now?

  • It is no longer a 3rd grade retention bill. Senator It was amended to apply to 1st graders based on the belief held by many that third grade was too late to begin interventions.
  • The parents of the child can override the retention and have the child promoted to 2nd grade.
  • If a parent does not request a meeting to discuss the issue within 15 days of getting notice of the child's performance, the teacher will make a recommendation to the principal who will review it and make a recommendation to the superintendent. The superintendent then makes the decision.
  • Exceptions to retention also include demonstration of reading skills on a teacher developed portfolio or a promotion recommendation from the teacher that is supported by both the principal and the superintendent.
  • The original bill provided grants to non-profits to provide intervention services. It now makes those grants available to school districts as well.

A bill that has only gone through one chamber at this point in the session would usually be all but dead. In this case, since the Senate amended the bill into a House bill, the House could simply concur in the Senate changes to HB 2140 and it would go to the Governor or alternatively the House could put the bill into a conference committee. The vote to concur or non-concur and form a conference committee will come sometime next week.

KPERS in the Senate
We were also watching a pair of KPERS bills in the Senate - HB 2213 and HB 2228. Both bills were bills needed by KPERS but of course could have been the targets of defined contribution amendments. As it turns out, they were left alone and passed out of the Senate without further amendment.  Both bills passed both chambers on unanimous votes.

They're gone for now
Both chambers have now adjourned and gone home for an extended weekend. The only conference committees scheduled for today, tomorrow and Monday at this time are Taxation, Appropriations/Ways and Means, Judiciary, Corrections/Judiciary, Health and Human Services/Public Health and Welfare, and Transportation/Judiciary.

Under The Dome will also be taking a break. We'll be back next week to report on education conference committee action and progress on the budget.

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