Time for turnaround
Friday marked the official halfway point of the 2014 session, which is referred to as turnaround.
Here is a synopsis of some of the 50 bills debated last week.
* House Bill 2417 would allow for the inclusion of Cherokee, Labette, Montgomery and Sumner counties into the Rural Opportunity Zones.
* House Bill 2552 requires managed-care organizations to process, pay or deny clean claims within 30 days. It also stipulates they must pay all other claims by 90 days.
* House bill 2596 would amend current law concerning employee retirement and disability benefits. This bill would revive a provision that expired June 30, 2007, and would have a reinstatement period from July 1 through June 30, 2017. The provision would hold harmless both the retirement and disability calculations for any state employee member of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, Kansas Police and Fireman's Retirement System or the Retirement System for Judges if the employee is furloughed or accepted a voluntary reduction in pay during the defined period of time.
* House bill 2433 would enhance criminal penalties for committing fraud against elderly.
Department of Agriculture fees
On Wednesday, I carried a bill in the House that would extend the sunset provisions on fees for the Department of Agriculture. Under current statute, the fees are to revert back to 2002 levels July 1, 2015. This bill would extend the current fee structure for the department to July 1, 2018. The Department of Agriculture testified if the sunset is not extended, the department would see a reduction in revenue and might have to revert to funding by the State General Fund to fund the department.
Developments in committee
The Agriculture and Natural Resources committee had bill hearings and passed two bills that would be a great benefit to central and western Kansas.
The first bill, House Bill 2693, would allow certain community colleges to provide training for commercial driver's licenses, and they also would be allowed to conduct the testing. Right now, individuals must go to one of 14 locations in the state. This bill would give those individuals seeking a commercial driver's license convenient locations to learn and obtain the commercial driver's license. I helped draft, provided testimony and supported this bill.
It unanimously passed the House late Thursday.
Rep. Troy L. Waymaster, R-Luray, represents the 109th House District, which includes portions of Smith, Osborne, Russell and Rush counties.
ALSO: The other bill this committee worked deals with a landowner's right of first refusal if the wildlife illegally is hunted on the landowner's property. Current statute states the state of Kansas owns all wildlife in the state until it is legal to hunt said wildlife. As with current law, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism contends the animal belongs to the state if illegally hunted and not to the landowner. This bill simply states if an animal illegally is hunted on the landowner's property, then the landowner has the right to accept or refuse the animal. I carried this bill on the House floor, and it passed late Thursday afternoon, 106-17.
Pages and contact info
On Feb. 24, Tyler Shadduck, from Rock Hills Junior-Senior High School in Mankto, paged for the Kansas House of Representatives. He also attended a lunch conference that was put on by the Wind Coalition. Shadduck is interested in government and politics. If you have any students that would be interested in being a page, let my office know.
With the half-way point of the 2014 Legislative session here, I will continue to be in Topeka through the week and back home in the district most weekends until our legislative break begins April 4.