Work continues in legislative hallways
The first votes for the 2014 legislative session were cast Wednesday when the house debated the contents of the Conference Committee Report of House Bill 2303. The committee report was a carry-over from the 2013 legislative session and approved by the Senate but not by the House before the conclusion of the 2013 legislative session.
House Bill 2303 would rename the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Driving Under the Influence Equipment Fund and Driving Under the Influence Fund and would require the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to establish and maintain breath-alcohol programs. Additionally, the bill would increase reinstatement fees for the first and subsequent occurrences of driving under the influence violations. These fees for test failure convictions and reinstatement would be increased.
This bill also would amend how total revenue generated from these fees would be distributed. There would be a separate distribution of fees from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2017, and then a different distribution of the fees from July 1, 2017, and on.
The bill also would require each of these funds earn interest based on each fund's average daily balance for the preceding month and the net earnings rate of the Pooled Money Investment Portfolio for the preceding month.
During committee meetings between the House and Senate, the committee further amended the percentages each fund would receive, placed a four-year sunset on fees going to the Judicial Branch's Non-Judicial Salary Adjustment Fund and set the percentages the remaining funds would receive after the sunset date.
Final action in the House Chamber took place Wednesday, and the committee for House Bill 2303 passed the House of Representatives, 109-11.
This week marked the first full week we met in our respective committees. In Federal and State Affairs Committee, a bill was introduced to expand the state-owned casinos in the state of Kansas. The bill would create a fifth zone for a gambling establishment in the Junction City or Manhattan areas. We also heard bill testimony on House Bill 2431, which addresses the regulation of knives by municipalities.
Last week, Sen. Elaine Bowers and I met with individuals from the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding the closure of the rest areas on Interstate 70 between Bunker Hill and Russell. Although it already was predetermined the facilities would close, Bowers and I did negotiate with them to retain the parking area. KDOT agreed and informed us beginning in March, the rest areas will be closed to raze the buildings, then the parking area will reopen shortly thereafter. The main reason as to why KDOT decided to close the facilities, and two west of Junction City, is due to rising costs to the department and water usage. Before the conclusion of the meeting, I inquired about the U.S. Highway 281 project from Russell to Kansas Highway 18, and they indicated right now they will begin the project in 2018.
On Thursday, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee had an informational hearing on animal health and a performance report on the Upper Arkansas River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
Rep. Troy L. Waymaster, R-Luray, represents the 109th House District, which includes portions of Smith, Osborne, Russell and Rush counties.