This is a busy time for the Senate. Many bills are being addressed. Here are some of the significant issues.
Education block grant
The debate about the K-12 funding formula serving its purpose versus it not being fair to each individual district will remain a controversy. The block grant will restore flexibility and local control to districts and maybe put money into the classroom while a new formula is developed. During the next three years, the K-12 block grant will add an additional $300 million and restore the governor's allotments made in February.
Legislators are told education "silos" have prevented administrators from making sure money ended up in the classroom. I hope the block grants will add flexibility and control over funding decisions excluding specific funds such as bonds and interest, special education and specific retirement contributions.
The block-grant plan also has an extraordinary needs fund to help school districts with any unforeseen hardships. The fund will be overseen by the State Finance Council, which is governed by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber of the Legislature and the governor.
The state is spending, on average of all funds, $12,960 per student in Kansas. The largest districts, in my opinion, are not a lot more efficient than small rural districts.
KDOT hay harvest permits
The Kansas Department of Transportation announced permits will be issued to landowners wanting to harvest hay on Kansas highway right-of-ways.
Those with land adjacent to the right-of-way will be given permit priority from Jan. 1 until March 31. After March 31, permits to harvest will be issued in the order in which they are received. The permits will expire Sept. 30.
Hay harvesting on right-of-ways along state and federal highways without a permit is illegal and is trespassing, according to KDOT.
Permits can be canceled at any time by either party, and all operations shall be in accord with requirements and guidelines set by KDOT. Any person, firm or corporation wanting to mow or bale hay will need to submit a permit application to the KDOT office in their area. No hay harvesting will take place along interstates, and access to any right-of-way shall be determined by KDOT.
For additional information, contact any northwest Kansas KDOT office, or call the Bureau of Maintenance in Topeka at (785) 296-3576.
Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, represents the 40th District in the Kansas Senate.
Nick Schwien is managing editor at The Hays Daily News.