The Kansas House unanimously OK’d legislation in February to update the Kansas Adoption and Relinquishment Act.

House Bill 2481 drew debate last week and likely will figure in the 2018 election season after State Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, offered an amendment last week in the Senate. She proposed to insert language saying that no child placement agency shall be denied a license or a grant or contract by the state because of the agency’s objection to participating in a placement that violates the agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas and the Kansas Department for Children and Families secretary were among those supporting the amendment. it passed the Senate, 24-14. Critics viewed it as potentially discriminatory against same-sex couples.

Voting for the amendment from this region were: Sens.Larry Alley, R-Winfield; Ed Berger, R-Hutchinson; Rick Billinger, R-Goodland; Bud Estes, R-Dodge City; Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick; and Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson.

Voting no: Sens. John Doll, I-Garden City, and Mary Jo Taylor, R-Stafford.

The House did not like the change made to its bill. A motion to concur with the Baumgardner amendment failed, 58-64.

Voting to concur with Baumgardner’s amendment, from this area, were: Reps. J. Stephen Alford, R-Ulysses; Tory Arnberger, R-Great Bend; Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater; Steven Johnson, R-Assaria; Greg Lewis, R-St. John; Les Mason, R-McPherson; Leonard Mastroni, R-Fowler; Boyd Orr, R-Fowler; Eber Phelps, D-Hays; Ken Rahjes, R-Agra; Don Schroeder, R-Hesston; Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie; Jack Thimesch, R-Spivey; and John Wheeler, R-Garden City.

Voting no were: Reps. Steven Becker, R-Buhler; Shannon Francis, R-Liberal; Tim Hodge, D-North Newton; J. Russell Jennings, R-Lakin; Jason Probst, D-Hutchinson; Brad Ralph, R-Dodge City; and Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican running for Governor, and former Gov. Sam Brownback’s son-in-law, Eric Teetsel, president of Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, issued statements criticizing the vote in the House.

“Christians in Kansas who believe the Republican-controlled Legislature will uphold the values of life, family and religious freedom need to wake up,” Teetsel wrote. He singled out by name House leadership members who voted against the amendment, including from this area, House Majority Leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton.

Medical marijuana

Legislation making it legal to grow industrial hemp for research purposes and under the oversight of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, passed the Legislature with only four lawmakers voting against it: State Sens. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg; Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha; and Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee; and State Rep. Ronald Ellis, R-Meriden.

Facing a tougher path was an amendment to allow medical marijuana.

State Rep. Cindy Holscher, D-Overland Park, offered the amendment to a bill and it failed, 54-69, in the House,

Voting for the medical marijuana amendment includen, from this region: Reps. Steven Becker, R-Buhler; Tim Hodge, D-North Newton; Leonard Mastroni, R-LaCrosse; Eber Phelps, D-Hays; and Jason Probst, D-Hutchinson.

Voting no were: Reps. J. Stephen Alford, R-Ulysses; Tory Arnberger, R-Great Bend; Shannon Francis, R-St. Francis; Don Hineman, R-Dighton; Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater; J. Russell Jennings, R-Lakin; Steven Johnson, R-Assaria; Greg Lewis, R-St. John; Les Mason, R-McPherson; Boyd Orr, R-Fowler; Ken Rahjes, R-Agra; Don Schroeder, R-Hesston; Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie; Brad Ralph, R-Dodge City; Jack Thimesch, R-Spivey; Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill; and John Wheeler, R-Garden City.

Some opponents said they objected to the Holscher amendment for legislative procedural reasons.

All for broadband

Not one member of the House or Senate has voted against a proposed statewide broadband expansion task force. The House passed a bill in February and the Senate cast its unanimous vote last. week. Further action will be needed to produce a single version to send to Gov. Jeff Colyer’s desk.

The Senate version establishes a 19-member voting board, with one seat given to the Kansas Independent Fiber Association created by Daniel Friesen, Buhler.

Giving up money

The Easter holiday break for the Legislature began after lawmakers wrapped up business Thursday. Lawmakers will return to work Monday. Resolutions adopted by both chambers last week stated that they would not receive their per diem of $144 or their daily salary of $88.66 during the three-day weekend.

They would have been allowed to receive the money, according to Thomas Day, Legislative Administrative Services director, because the break is not more than two days, Sundays being excepted.

“It has been typical the last couple of years,” Day said, for the Legislature to adopt a resolution relinquishing per diem and salary under similar circumstances.