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Bills focus on protection, education

An update on the bills sent to the governor for signature at turnaround. The House and Senate passed a measure addressing sovereignty concerns regarding federal agents attempting to confiscate firearms, firearms accessories or ammunition manufactured commercially or privately and possessed in Kansas.

Originally, the bill required state and local law enforcement officers to arrest federal agents acting on orders of superiors. It was altered to block arrests and gave local and state prosecutors authority to seek court orders forcing out-of-state agents from taking Kansas-made weapons.

Both houses also agreed to a bill creating a four-year glide path to imposition of a law mandating state and municipal buildings have metal detection or trained guards at entries or lift a ban on people with conceal carry permits.

Public schools, correctional facilities and jails would be allowed to retain policies prohibiting concealed handguns on the premises without adopting heightened security. A local school board, university chief executive or community college official could authorize licensed employees to carry a concealed handgun at work.

There were so many bills introduced pertaining to Kk-12 education this year, it will take several articles to highlight them. Today, I will update on the governor's Read to Succeed proposal.

The House and Senate passed HB 2140, a substantially amended version of the original intent. The bill provides that beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, districts that have a higher percentage of students scoring in the lowest achievement level on state reading assessments will have to adopt a policy for possible retention of certain students in first grade, rather than third grade as proposed by the governor and adopted in some other states.

The bill also creates a new grant program to assist struggling readers in the early grades, a task force to study reading interventions, and a recognition program for schools demonstrating the most improvement in fourth grade reading results.

Whether the bill is signed and then funded remains to be seen. It certainly has drawn attention to how important it is for young students to read, and I would hope parents and schools continue to focus on reading and its importance.

Ward Cassidy, R-St. Francis, represents the 120th District in the Kansas House of Representatives. ward.cassidy@house.ks.gov