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SPOTLIGHT
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Energy line would be a boon to region

Published on -2/11/2013, 10:10 AM

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The 2013 legislative session continues in a relatively fast-paced fashion and already there have been more than 200 bills introduced in the House.

Feb. 4 was the last day an individual could introduce legislation, so most of the work remains in our respective committees.

One of the changes that took effect on Jan. 1 was the incorporation of KanCar, the state of Kansas' Medicaid program. There will be no reduction in current levels of services and reimbursements. KanCare provides new services, including heart and lung transplants for adults, weight-loss surgery, and value-added services.

The reason to move to a program like KanCare is to coordinate each individual's care along with providers, decreasing repeated hospitalizations, better manage chronic conditions and lessen the reliance on institutional settings. KanCare provides the first set of comprehensive goals and targeted results in Kansas Medicaid. The new standards exceed federal requirements and set Kansas on a path to historic improvement and efficiency.

Grain Belt Express Clean Line is preparing to install a transmission line that would cover a vast area of the 109th House District.

The proposed construction path would include the counties of Barton, Lincoln, Osborne, Rush and Russell.

The Clean Line Energy Transmission Line would develop a long-haul, high-voltage direct current transmission that would connect the best wind resources in our state to communities that lack the access to low-cost renewable energy. This particular transmission line would deliver wind energy from Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and other states farther east. It also would result in 5,000 construction jobs for wind farms and transmission line construction. Some of the other benefits proposed would be 500 operations jobs, local partnerships, income for our communities, increased market competition and manufacturing jobs.

Gov. Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt have introduced language strengthening the state's human trafficking statutes with an emphasis on protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation. SB 61 would establish a fund to provide support for those victimized by human trafficking. The fund would be paid for through mandatory fines imposed on individuals convicted of human trafficking and related sex crimes. The bill also provides for special Child in Need of Care procedures for children who have been subjected to human trafficking, and expedites expungement procedures for those convicted of selling sexual relations if they were subject to coercion.

A new crime of commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child is created in the bill, increasing the penalties of the existing crimes of patronizing a prostitute and promoting the prostitution of a person younger than 18. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill, and it awaits further consideration.

One of the bills I have mentioned throughout this session is a proposal by a group called Uncork Kansas, which is a coalition of grocery and convenience stores lobbying for the opportunity to sell hard liquor. HB 2532 would allow for the selling of full-strength beer, wine and spirits in grocery stores and convenience stores in the state of Kansas. There are many proponents and opponents of this bill. Some claim the bill would increase state revenue from alcohol taxes, permit fees and fines. Others claim it could put liquor stores out of business. The House Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development heard testimony regarding the bill recently.

As we work in our respective committees, there are many bills already out of committee and awaiting voting on the House Floor. HB 5002 is the constitutional amendment that would allow the governor to appoint Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges, which would then be subject to Senate confirmation. This was one of the questions that was called in to the panel of legislators during a recent "Kansas Legislature" show on Smoky Hills Public Television. As I mentioned on the show, I support this change.

In the Federal and State Affairs Committee, we sent a resolution and bill to the House floor recognizing the late Rep. Bob Bethell and his efforts.

Thank you to Wyatt Heitler, Sam Princ, Yasmin Etienne, Sage Boswell and Dharma Course from Sylvan-Lucas Unified for paging recently.

Troy Waymater, R-Luray, represents the 109th District. troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov

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