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Key pieces of legislation advancing

The Legislature was again faced with weather delays while trying to finish our business by the Friday "Turnaround" deadline. On Friday, the Legislature finished up its work, ending turnaround on schedule. We were able to work through more than 70 bills this week passing many important pieces of legislation. The next deadline will be March 22, when all non-exempt bills again must be passed out of committee.

The House approved a bill eliminating the statute of limitation for rape and other sexually violent crimes. The previous statute of limitation was five years, but if the bill is signed into law, these types of crimes will be able to be prosecuted at any time after it occurs. This is a common-sense, bipartisan measure that will protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice, regardless of how long they've gotten away with their crime.

This week, the House passed HB 2326, which would protect Internet protocol-based services from regulation by the Kansas Corporations Commission. IP is the broadband technology of the future that is already being deployed to meet consumer demand for popular applications that connect them in their daily lives. This legislation would protect Kansas companies investing in IP-based services from unnecessary regulation by state agencies and ensure that policy regarding these services is set by the legislature.

As it has done for the wireless companies, this protection would ensure the regulatory certainty these companies investing in IP technologies need to continue to invest and grow in Kansas.

The House approved a bill that will help make teachers aware of all resources available to them. HB 2221 allows schools boards to grant professional education organizations the ability to send educator specific information to teacher email inboxes and mailboxes. It also allows equal access for all professional employees' associations to attend new teacher or employee school orientations and other meetings. The more resources we make available to our teachers the better equipped they will be, not only in the classroom but to also plan and protect their future.

Last week, the House passed HB 2025 that establishes the Robert G. (Bob) Bethell Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight. This committee would provide oversight of the administration of KanCare by those accountable to the people, elected members of the legislature.

The House also approved a bill that will change the way appellate court judges are picked in Kansas. If signed into law, the bill would make the governor the appointing authority for appeals court judges, subject to confirmation by the Senate. This way, everyone involved in the process is accountable to the people of Kansas through election.

The current system leaves most Kansans out of the process of selecting judges.

A board made up of nine members -- five of whom are placed there by the Kansas Bar Association -- interview candidates for the appeals court system in secret. The result of those closed meetings is three candidates, sent to the governor for appointment.

The members of the commission are not accountable to the people of Kansas.

Furthermore, members of the bar association say they often have no idea who they vote for to join the commission. The current system is simply undemocratic.

This is a statutory change, unlike a constitutional change needed to change process of selecting judges on the Kansas Supreme Court.

The House approved two bills that will make it easier for veterans to put their military experience towards professional licensure in Kansas. Veterans who are trained as medics, electricians and truck drivers, among others, by the military can apply to the licensure board of their field. The board will evaluate each veteran's experience individually and can require additional classes or training when necessary.

The purpose of the bills is to make it easier for veterans to find jobs that utilize the skills they've already developed. It's a way for our state to recognize the valuable experience and training that the military provides and honor the people who've chosen to serve.

Travis Landon Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco, represents the 110th District in the Kansas House. travis@travisforkansas.com