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Abortion, gun measures advanced

With the close of the regular session, the Legislature will now take a break and return home to meet with constituents and allow staff to process all of the bills passed this session. I have several town hall meetings coming up, and I am looking forward to discussing the issues with the people of the 110th District.

Along with debating more than 50 pieces of legislation, the House also honored veterans of the Vietnam War from all branches of service. On Thursday, the House marked April 4 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. The resolution reflected on the poor treatment many veterans received when they returned home and the importance of never letting that type of treatment happen again.

The House passed the conference committee report on HB 2253, the Women's Right to Know Act, which would continue to secure and enrich the culture of life in Kansas. The provisions of the bill would restrict abortions based solely on gender, define life as beginning at fertilization and prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for or subsidize an abortion.

The most significant change to existing law concerns when life begins. The bill would add a statutory provision that would declare the life of each human being begins at fertilization. Accordingly, all state laws would be interpreted and construed to protect the rights, privileges and immunities of the unborn child, only subject to the U.S. Constitution and interpretations by the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, additional new language would be required in certain printed materials to inform pregnant women about the development of the unborn child, legal responsibilities for the unborn child and organizations to assist the pregnant woman.

Kansas law provides several cases for which an abortion is permissible and legal. This bill would update the prohibited list to include gender selection abortions. The bill would prohibit the use of public funding, tax credits, tax preferences and state-provided public health care services from being used in any manner to facilitate abortions or in facilities where abortions are performed. It also would prohibit any school district, its employees, agents and education service providers from offering abortion services, and abortion providers would be restricted from sponsoring, offering or furnishing any course materials or instruction related to human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases in public schools.

The House passed HB 2253 by a vote of 90-30. The bill is now headed to the governor for his signature or veto. I voted yes.

Second Amendment Protection Act and Personal and Family Protection Act, SB 102, included three main provisions. The first would exclude all firearms produced and kept in Kansas from federal firearms legislation and regulation. This would seek to regulate a state product, which is manufactured wholly in the state and remaining within Kansas borders, to be subject to Kansas law only. It is time for the states to draw a line in the sand against the continued overreach by the federal government.

The second and third pieces of the bill would make it illegal to enforce federal gun laws by federal or local law enforcement within Kansas borders when the weapons in question are made in Kansas and meet the regulation of state law.

HB 2052 would make changes to where a concealed carry licensee would be able to take their weapon. The bill would require public buildings to provide adequate security to guarantee there are not guns in the building before being able to restrict concealed carry permit holders from carrying their weapon within said building. The bill would exempt local school districts and allow certain entities four-year, renewable exemptions if they can demonstrate a need to restrict weapons.

SB 102 passed the House 96-24 and HB 2052 passed 104-16. Both bills are now headed to the governor for his signature or veto. I voted yes.

Unemployment insurance reform, HB 2105, would reform the largest business tax levied in Kansas, the unemployment insurance tax that is paid by employers across the state. This bill would make changes regarding the fees paid by new employers to help new small businesses in their most difficult first years. The bill also would help positive balance employers who don't contribute to the program's deficit by lowering the percent paid by these employers. The bill also changed the level of wages to which unemployment taxes are subject.

HB 2105 passed the House 89-31 and is headed to the governor for his signature or veto. I voted yes.

There were many more bills passed, and there is still work to be done to get a budget and tax plan completed. For more information, sign up for my newsletter at www.travisforkansas.com.

Travis Couture-Lovelady represents the 110th District in the Kansas House of Representatives. travis@travisforkansas.com